Project Update: Kukanga Primary School from One School at a Time

Dear Denver Rotary 31,

You are receiving this update as you donated over the past few years to the construction of a 5 classroom block building at Kukanga Primary School, rural Uganda (One School at a Time partner school #2). I wanted to share with you about the completion of these classrooms and our celebration this July 4th to commemorate just that!

Patty Gilbert and I, co-founders One School at a Time, woke at our Ugandan field office on that day at 7 AM to hear a huge commotion outside. We looked out the window, surprised to see a marching band (complete with tubas, horns, a drum and cymbals) along with over 500 student representatives from the 5 One School at a Time partner schools.

Little did we know, but they had planned a musical marching parade…..and we were the guests of honor!

We rushed outside and were swept into the fold as we marched in synch the 5 miles of dusty roads between our field office and Kukanga School. 100’s of onlookers lined the streets as the joyful procession snaked its way along. When we arrived at Kukanga School, the head teacher hurried us to the girl’s washing area admonishing us to bathe and put on new clothes. Turns out the new clothes she provided had been hand-sewn by Agnes, the head teacher of Bbinikila school, another One School partner. Patty and Juliet’s (Bays’ daughter) clothes fit perfectly but Bay’s were too small in the shoulders.

Next stop was the ceremony, attended by over 1,000 community members- parents, students, teachers, administrators, local government officials, church officials and a few reporters from local and national newspapers. After student dances, head teachers from each partner school summarized the changes that had occurred at their schools since partnership with One School at a Time. The finale was a raucous and controversial speech (encouraging parents to beat their children) by the Bishop of Mityana Diocese, followed by the offical “launching” of the new classroom building.

Earlier, the Bishop had communicated with Hussein Tadesse, One School Program Manager, that the original plaque thanking the donors (that would be all YOU wonderful people) was NOT acceptable and that the Diocese needed to be acknowldeged (even though they had nothing to do with the project). Eager to comply, Hussein simply made a new sign that covered the original plaque. This skillful solution assuaged all the egos.

After the “launch”, all 1,000 attendees were fed a traditional meal of matoke, rice, meat and sauce.

Upon our exhausted return to the Field Office that night, a knock came at the door. Agnes (photo below) had arrived! After a rigorous day of marching, speech-giving, and organizing and managing a giant celebration, she was there to measure Bay’s shoulders! As promised, the next morning like clockwork she arrived to deliver Bay’s outfit, now tailored to fit perfectly.

Thank you so much for being part of this wonderul and worthwhile effort. We could not have achieved all this without your loving support.
Bay Roberts and Patty Gilbert, Co-Founders, One School at a Time

If you want to go quickly, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.
African proverb