Don’t you just love that red African soil? I know I do. I love it thinly coating my entire body, gathering greater density in the crevice between my nose and sunglasses, clinging to my Burts Beeswax-covered lips.
But how do you achieve this ‘look?’ (You’re clearly asking yourself right now). The answer is simple- you hop on the back of a ‘boda-boda’ motorcycle for a 40-minute ride from Gulu town to Paicho Primary School, in Paicho internally displaced persons (IDP) camp.
You may have gathered through conversations with me over the past few months, or maybe just from pulling up this blog, that Holly and I are here in Gulu to develop and eventually implement peace education curricula. As the first phase of our project, we’ve been meeting with local experts in the fields of education, youth leadership, and human rights. Most importantly, we’ve started to get to know the primary level 5 and 6 students from the two pilot schools we’re working with- Police Primary in Gulu town, and Paicho Primary in one of Gulu district’s countless IDP camps.
Police Primary is a beautifully maintained ‘urban’ school (urban for Gulu), recognized in the district as a ‘model’ school, with the some of the top teachers, highest examination scores, access to resources, etc. Paicho Primary is at the other extreme- a ‘rural’ school, with a larger population of directly war-affected children, and a scarcity of resources.
Today, Holly and I slathered our pasty selves with sunscreen, filled up our water bottles, and mounted a couple boda-bodas with boxes of needs-assessment surveys in tow. We rode up to Paicho Primary, where we were greeted with the typical stares, giggles, and shrieks of ‘munu’ (whitey). We carried out the surveys with the P5 and P6 students- the upcoming P6 and P7 students with whom we’ll be implementing our curriculum come February.
While we haven’t yet had a chance to read through the hundreds of surveys (combined with those from Police Primary, we have about 450), we hope that the children’s responses will help us to understand their knowledge, attitudes and skills around peace and conflict resolution.