Lights out in Kampala

A birthday at the Chrysalis Centre during "Lights out"

We have had almost a year of virtually trouble-free  electricity here in Kampala, but all of a sudden, we are starting to suffer
again with the “lights out” syndrome.   Rumours abound as to why the power has gone – “The lorry fixing the road
dropped its earth on the cable” or “The electricity people are striking with  the shop workers” or even (and I guess the most likely) “There is a power  shortage in Uganda and the power is going to be off 50% of the time until we  buy more power.”

Lack of power brings disillusionment.  No more Bejeweled Blitz, checking emails or  Facebook for the Chrysalis students for the duration and so we have to think of  something else to do.  It was Joseph Otim’s  13th birthday yesterday and so the kids were baking a cake in the
microwave when “Boom” the power went off.   Joseph is a very gifted and talented boy from the Acholi Quarter and he
spends quite a bit of time at the Chrysalis Centre and so we wanted to   celebrate for him.  I have always  believed that birthdays are much more important for children and so we do our  utmost to at least recognise their date of birth, if they know it.  Joseph is a keen boardgamer, so when the  lights went out, we could easily have put the gas lamp on and played one of the  games at the Centre.  But we didn’t…

Actually “lights out” has been a blessing for us, as it was  the first time that the lights went out, that I decided to have a proper chat
with the members of Butterfly North and our Chrysalis School.  The darkness forced us to talk frankly and  the lack of distraction ensured that everyone’s mind was focused on the  conversation at hand.  I had always  believed that our members could support the school through agriculture, but I  knew so little about the subject that I didn’t know quite how much this could  be instrumental to our school development, despite knowing about “Teach a Man  to Fish” for a while.  They told me that  they could be planting right now and that the season was until the end of May.  So the next day, I planned that they return  to their villages to plant before they went back for next term.  I even had to delay the start of term to fit  it in!  What they planted will be on a  future blog, so we’ll have to wait on that one…

Last night during “lights out”, we talked about many things  and the future of the school as a whole.   We are funded just by just a few private individuals and the pupils know  we can barely afford to keep them for one year.   None could pay for secondary schooling without our project and so they  worry about their future.  This first  year is flying past and they tell me that they know now they can be a change  maker and desperately want to be a catalyst for change in their remote rural  subcounties.  So, they are prepared to  work, persuade, support the project as best they can and help us continue what  we are doing.

What I really want too is to recruit a new cohort next year,  but our sustainability must be in action to make this work…

“Chicken for Change” is delayed a little, so that will come  perhaps next week.  We’re also running  specific “School Entrepreneurship Challenge” lessons at the school starting  next Monday with Betty, the Entrepreneurship teacher, so will be able to report  on that next time…


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