Rosa teacher and students form connection with Uganda

Naveen Yarlagadda ('11)/ Eastside Staff

uganda.jpg Gretchen Seibert, a seventh grade English teacher at Rosa International Middle School, wants to team up with her students to change Uganda. The name of the organization she and her students are helping is the “Outside the Dream” foundation. The organization was started by Ugandan citizens and promotes education and funding needed for children to have an appropriate education.

Many of these Ugandan children have been leading lives of perdition, such as fighting in wars and suffering extreme weather conditions without food, water and shelter. On the pamphlet of the organization, a child’s story is told:   “Jimmy Odong, who was abducted by and forced to fight for the Lord’s Resistance Army, will not be able to attend secondary school without a sponsor.”

Another story reads, “Charles Otim, a former child soldier, wants to become a teacher. However, he first requires micro-finance in order to set up a small poultry business.”

These children and many more are suffering to seek the simplicities in life that some of us take for granted. Seibert is not only helping from the outside but on the inside. She will be traveling to Uganda and will be examining the school’s facilities that the organization started to make sure that they are safe and clean for the kids learning there. Seibert would even like to have the public follow her through her journey on her “Exploring Uganda Blog” at www.exploringuganda.blogspot.com/.

She wrote to the public, “Follow my story if you wish, as I travel to Uganda to meet the young man, an orphan with no surviving blood relatives, my seventh grade students and I are sponsoring; as I research one of the longest-running wars in Africa–and what is considered one of the world’s ‘forgotten humanitarian crises.’” 

In fact, statistics by UNICEF confirm that about 1.5 million people in Northern Uganda have been taken out of their normal lives and put into poverty. One of these reasons is the continuing violence that is happening from the “Lord’s Resistance Army” and other conflicts happening in Uganda. One child by the name of Dennis was forced to murder someone and later was left in a village. His legs were so impaired due to the equipment he had to carry; he was forced to crawl for three days in order to search for help.

Basic acts can help these children in Uganda, such as purchasing composition notebooks or school supplies that are common for kids and which can be shipped overseas or be given to a fellow volunteer of “Outside the Dream” foundation. Starting small fundraisers can help the foundation as well, such as selling pretzels or baked goods. The website is www.outsidethedream.org/.

The foundation echoes a quote by Margaret Mead to the public:  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”