"Books bound for African villageOrdway students, Rotary join a Ugandan school project"
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:21 PM
"Students in Amukarat, Uganda, don't have pencils or paper - using their fingers to write their assignments in the dirt.So Peter Emau, a Uganda native and Bainbridge resident, has island students helping the African village that lacks school supplies, books and printed literature. It is just so exciting, Emau said of the project, which will see a series of educational booklets sent to Uganda. It keeps on expanding.Emau, a research scientist at the University of Washington, knew that essential educational tools are absent in the village schools of Amukarat. The project began when Emau's brother, Gabriel Emau, a 30-year veteran teacher in Amukarat, asked Emau to print up his teaching notes so that his students could have something tangible they could learn from. Kuman, the native tongue, is essentially a spoken language that is passed from generation to generation, from elders to children, and to date, nothing has been officially written down. School children use their fingers to work out math assignments on the ground, leaving no written record of what has been studied or learned.And when civil war plagued Uganda 15 years ago, many village elders died, leaving an educational gap and broken links in the chain of their oral history.That left the village's songs, culture, history and language in jeopardy of being lost with time.Emau said that he and his brother hope to introduce reading and writing in Kuman to students.This is the first time all this is being captured, Emau said.The Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island caught wind of the need and got involved, then passed the word to the kids at Ordway Elementary.Bill Frankenburg, past chairman of the Rotary Club's Uganda Literacy Program, said the group was glad to open the door for Emau by funding the project.The Ugandan students will receive seven unique booklets in all, each one of progressive difficulty. Subjects covered include the alphabet and spelling, grammar, fables, proverbs, songs, civics, and health and nutrition.Aside from printing 700 copies of the booklets, the Rotary Club is also sending books leftover from its annual auction - boxed together, measuring 70 cubic feet.Frankenburg said they faced only one problem: the shipment of the supplies to Uganda. That is when Terry McGill of Sister Schools, a Seattle-based, non-profit that helps students develop an awareness of the needs of Ugandan schools, got involved.Sister Schools matches schools in Western Washington with schools like those in Amukarat, providing an opportunity for local students to help meet the physical and educational needs of their less fortunate counterparts. Frankenburg said that it was just a coincidence that McGill heard about the Rotary's need of transport, and recruited Ordway to be a sister school.Sara Papajani, the volunteer parent heading the project at Ordway said that when the students saw pictures of Ugandan children lacking essential educational and physical supplies, they got excited and really picked up on the need. Ordway students collected everything from pens and pencils to toothpaste and toothbrushes to clothes and toys.We're very fortunate to have people that want to do things for others, Frankenburg said.Wednesday, McGill and Sister Schools picked up the many donations - perhaps most importantly, the hundreds of educational booklets - and sent them on their way to Amukarat. Emau said that the people of the village know what is coming their way, and said they are very excited. He hopes the effort will help his people become authors, artists and scientists. Wow, I am so overwhelmed, he said. I can't describe it - it is so positive. "