Morrish – or Morris (I am still not sure which) – is a tall athletic young man, who joined us at the Chrysalis School in February 2011. He is 15 and way taller than anyone else from the Butterfly North group, that we recruited from Northern Uganda. Morrish is from Madi Opei, which is a trading centre on the way to Agoro, which is the edge of Northern, which meets Sudan. In fact he lives several miles from the nearest trading centre in a remote village of around 150 people. His father died a few years back and he was brought up by his older brothers, as his mother struggled to look after him after the death of his father.
One of the early activities we did this year in our “Problem-solving” sessions was to design a robot, which would be useful in a village and the idea was that they draw it and then show what all of the different contraptions did. Morrish draws unexpectedly well, if you just judge him by his appearance. But what was moving in his answers was that he said that the village needed protecting by something, or someone. I think most of us imagine that it is not our problem to ensure that our house is safe, once we put locks on our doors, but clearly in rural villages there is no bobby on the beat and no house contents or even life insurance. When you’re surrounded by starving people, it is easy to rationalise why crops and stores need to be carefully guarded. He clarified that he felt his village needed “protecting from rebels” and the other boys nodded in agreement and added the relevant guns and ammunition to their own robots.
During the year, though, Morrish has developed a compassion for others. He has taken over the Project Circulate from Francis Ssuuna very diligently and he has been with the children who come to run every morning early at the Centre. I guess he has seen them and their passion for their orange and biscuit and decided that he can be a giver to society rather than a taker. He has also taken them up to the Mandela Stadium and run many races with them this year and learned with Francis to be a Junior Athletics Coach.
However, Morrish has other skills. He can be difficult to understand in normal speech, as he speaks very quickly and with an accent, but he reads aloud from books very well and also comprehends very well from written work. Because of this he took books home with him to his village this Christmas, so that he could start teaching smaller children how to read in his spare time. There are little or no story books in the village, so reading is more than just learning – it will expand the imagination of young children as well as teach them English – few teachers in the village can speak English.
Morrish also spearheaded our melon-growing this year and planted thousands of watermelon seeds. Unfortunately harvest was marred by torrential rain and his village is so isolated that vehicles could not get through to collect his crop.
Throughout the year, I noticed Morrish becoming more and more confident. Still focused on performing well at school, but he was starting to see himself able to do more in his spare time and volunteering to take on responsibility – not common in Ugandan rural areas. He is an undoubted talent, but he needs more time to build his skills as a changemaker and I hope any readers of this blog are able to see his potential and support his unique capabilities. If you can support his education, then please write to this email address for information how.