Kigezi Healthcare Foundation – Official Blog

KIHEFO promotes local initiated solutions to fight disease, ignorance and poverty in southwestern Uganda

Ugandan & Canadian Children Make “Pals” Using the Pen

GS024 P1060741It began with an outreach visit to the village of Ibumba earlier this year in January. KIHEFO was visiting the Ibumba Orphan & Widow’s Group to monitor a goat exchange under the Agro-Innovation & Revolving Fund Project. Group leader, Mrs. Turyahikayo Harriet, who’s also a primary school teacher at Ibumba Primary School expressed interest in starting a Pen Pal Program with a primary school in North America.

Children living in the rural region of Kigezi, Uganda, including the village of Ibumba, face a lot of learning challenges at primary schools.  Most students have practically no access to computers and the Internet. Even televisions are uncommon in a poor household. Most Ugandan children ‘travel’ only through their social studies textbooks – if they’re lucky. Some students, after all, don’t even have textbooks at school.

Harriet’s hope was that a Pen Pal Program would stimulate excitement for her students to learn more about a different country and culture, while building a global friendship. It was thought students could ask questions, and share information about ‘what it’s like to be a kid living in Canada, or Uganda.’

One of KIHEFO’s Canadian volunteers, Trina Moyles, originally from the small town of Peace River (located in Northern Alberta), contacted her parents to help solicit interest from the local primary schools. After sending an email, she was contacted, almost immediately, by April L’Heureux – a grade four/five teacher at Good Shephard Primary School, who was happy to get on her students on board with the idea.

GS017cIn late March 2013, the first batch of letters, written by April’s students, traveled in the suitcases of Dave and Linda Moyles, to Kabale, Uganda. On their first day in Uganda, KIHEFO facilitated an outreach visit to Ibumba Primary School to hand deliver the letters to Harriet’s eager students.

The Moyles family was welcomed by the entire student body at Ibumba School, who had prepared a special song and dance to greet the visitors. Harriet’s students opened the envelops addressed to them with excitement, pulling out small photographs and hand-written letters that the Canadian students prepared. Huge smiles stretched across the students faces.

GS020 Receiving letter 1

Only four weeks later, Dave and Linda returned to Canada with the second batch of letters, and responses from the Ugandan children for their new Canadian friends. The visit to Good Shepherd School in Peace River, Canada, was equally as exciting. Dave showed the Canadian children photographs and videos from Uganda. Canadian students asked many different questions. Dave brought along a “Ugandan village soccer ball” – a ball handmade by weaving dried banana leaves. The Canadian kids were intrigued.

April, grade 4/5 teacher, has said that KIHEFO’s Pen Pal Program has become an “invaluable learning experience” for her students.

Misunderstandings about what goes on in the world abroad and how students live have been quickly corrected and replaced with a respect for the different culture. With this one on one connection, students are feeling a closeness to another student straight across the world, and are, therefore, getting authentic information on a different lifestyles, in a way they can easily understand,” said April in an email to KIHEFO last month.

“My students are eager to continue this pen pal program throughout the year – and hopefully a lot longer.”GS023 IMGP0377

The third batch of letters from April’s students arrived in early July, and Harriet and her students are looking forward to sending back letters to their friends in Peace River – just in time for the start of the September school-year.

KIHEFO gratefully acknowledges the efforts of Dave and Linda Moyles for working with April and Good Shepherd School to facilitate the continuation of the pen pal program.

Are you interested in facilitating a Pen Pal or School Program? For more information about KIHEFO’s work, please click – here.


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This entry was posted on August 5, 2013 by in Community Partnership, International Volunteers.
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