In April 2009 Jean Kaye Wilson and Pam McCormick visited the Masese Village concerned about the unemployment of the young men there. Some supplies for a vocational training center had been sent in a previous container but the training seemed to be limping along. While trying to form a plan with these young men as to how to best help them improve their situation, evaluating their current skills and dreams, one man told us he was trained as a teacher. Upon hearing this both Jean and Pam immediately had the same thoughts. There had to be many children in this impoverished area that couldn’t go to school due to lack of funding. Here is an educated teacher needing a job. What a wonderful opportunity to
give a hand up to this man, his family, and to all the children in this community that had no hope for their future without an education. Within a week Ben had obtained permission from his government, secured his country’s syllabus (curriculum for teaching), and enrolled 50 children into the HELP school that had never been to school before. These children were ages 3 through 9 and excited about getting to go to school. May 4 the new school opened.
This school started with very little. There was a roof from a structure without sides or floor that protected them from the elements. A few chairs, a box of paper, a white board and one marker, a willing teacher and many children excited to learn were the beginning of bringing knowledge to replace ignorance for these children in Masese. The whiteboard marker went dry after the first day as it had been sitting in a storage area for a few years. With no money to purchase another marker, Ben found a blackboard he could use and some donated chalk from a sympathetic business in the area. He made posters from the box of paper to teach from. The students used the seats of their chairs as a table (kneeling on the ground) once a few supplies became available. Most of the children had never even held a pencil before. Since English is the National language in Uganda the students must learn in English. Only the educated know English. With their parents being the poorest of the poor these children knew no English to begin with. Ben, with patience and determination, began at the beginning. Within 6 weeks his number had grown to 90 children! With no walls to separate kids and no outside walls to keep out distractions, and no supplies teaching was a challenge. Ben asked for walls to separate the younger from the older creating two classrooms. This helped, along with the suggestion from us that he find another teacher to help him. We found a donor to cover another teacher’s salary and Lydia joined the HELP School. By the time this new school had been in existence for six months the enrollment had grown to 152 students. Enough learning had happened that three classes had formed; nursery/kindergarten, Primary 1 and Primary 2 by the first of the year, 2010. At this time another teacher, Evarine, came on board and the enrollment was suspended until further accommodations could be secured.