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Drum Beats

Buseesa, Uganda

Volume 11, Issue 1

After Ten Years, Sr. Jane Marie Bids Farewell to Buseesa

In March, after almost ten years in Uganda, Sr. Jane will be returning permanently to California. Sr. Jane was one of the first four missionaries to go to Buseesa and was the first head teacher of St. Julie School. We are indebted to Sr. Jane for all she brought to our Ugandan mission, especially in helping to start St. Julie School. Opening a primary school in the Sr. Jane with Buseesa Primary students in 1995 bush with limited knowledge of the language, the culture, and the educational system, was a monumental task. Sr. Jane was the right person at the right time for this undertaking. It is now time for her to return to her home province and her elderly mother. In her first year in Uganda, Sr. Jane assisted students at Buseesa Primary in preparation for the national Primary Leaving Exam (PLE). She then began teaching at Buseesa Primary which was just up the road from the convent. Sister also found time to teach English to some women of the nearby villages.

When St. Julie School was being constructed, Sr. Jane often visited the site to check on the progress. The school opened in February 1998 with Sister Jane as the Handing out an award to a St. Julie student Head Teacher at an assembly - always a special moment (Principal). Sister was also in the classroom teaching a variety of subjects. Sister Jane has guided the school through the development of policies and curriculum, the hiring of native Ugandan teachers, the construction of additional buildings, and the interminable process of getting the school certified. In November 2002, the first “graduating” class of St. Julie’s sat for the PLE and passed with flying colors - a real tribute to Sister Jane and all the staff! Sister has also served as chief cook at the convent and has shared some of her culinary skills with the students and women who help in the convent. Through Sister Jane’s leadership and dedication, St. Julie School and the mission in Uganda have a strong and solid beginning. With gratitude for all she has generously shared with the people of Buseesa, we wish Sr. Jane God’s special blessings in the years ahead.

Left, Sister Jane often could be found in the kitchen sharing her culinary skills with the students - Center, enjoying a package from home in 1995 - Right, teaching English lessons to the women of the village in the fall 1996

Free Time? Not Much at St. Julie or NDA

What do the students at St. Julie Primary do when they’re not in school? At 3:15 pm, there’s an after school snack (called tea time) and then some free time. From 4:00-6:00 pm there is supervised homework, play time, and family work. Small groups rotate through these times. The children are told that if they were home, they would be doing chores to help the family. At school, the teachers and students are like a family, and all need to help with the work. Thus the term ”family work.” Students work in groups of 5-8 sorting beans, helping in the kitchen, slashing grass (like cutting the lawn but with a long curved tool), working in the garden, and taking care of the farm animals. The groups change chores every two weeks so students who don’t like their family work know it will change soon. At 6:00 pm everyone goes to bathe. Supper is at Right - Checkers is just one of the games St. Julie students enjoy in their “free time”

Right - NDA girls preparing for a Friday night debate with Sr. Anita Marie. Debating is very popular in Uganda.

Below - NDA student sweeping the circulation area where assemblies are held twice a week

Above - Carrying eggs from the henhouse is part of “family work” for students Left - All students do their own laundry in the yard on Saturday

Right - “Family work” in the garden after school. The gardens produce much of the food needed for the meals for students and staff. The students change jobs every couple of weeks.

7:00 pm and lights are out at 9:00 pm. On Saturday, the children clean the dorms, bathrooms, latrines, and the area around their dorms. They also wash their clothes, towels, and bed sheets - all by hand - and spread their clothing on the grass to dry. In the afternoon, they usually have soccer or netball (Ugandan basketball). Competition is between the classes. On Sunday, Mass is at 8:00 am, followed by breakfast. All come together for tea time and supper. Although the remainder of the day is free, the children are not permitted to leave the school compound without permission. Weekends for the students at Notre Dame Academy are quite different from that of their NDA counterparts in the USA. Friday night is debate night. Even though it is a required activity, the girls really enjoy it and get quite spirited and even passionate in their discussions.

On Saturdays, cleaning of the area and personal care jobs take most of the morning. The girls cut one another’s hair and wash and iron their own clothes. To iron, coals have to be heated and placed in the “iron.” In the afternoon, there is a testing program that takes about 3 hours. The girls take two, one and a half hour tests. Each teacher gives two such tests per term in his/her subjects. This is done in secondary schools throughout the country. The purpose of these tests is to prepare the students for the S4 Leaving Exams. The evening brings the Saturday night socials. Each dorm takes a turn planning the activity that may include singing and dancing, card games, or even a short play prepared by the dorm students. Lights are out by 11:00 pm. Sunday is a time to relax and get ready for the coming week. After the Sunday Mass, the students are free the remainder of the morning. In the afternoon there is supervised study for those who need to catch up in their studies. Sr. Mary Rita, Sr. Jane NDA students relaxing on the porch on Sunday with Sr. M. Rita. These students also help younger students with tutoring, etc.

St. Julie Students Winners in Essay Contest

On October 29, Sr. Jane presented T-shirts to nineteen student essay writers. This was by far the greatest number of winners in any school in the Kabaale district. (A Ugandan district is similar to a state in the USA.) The contest was part of the government effort to reduce the incidence of AIDS in Uganda by means of education. Four of the nineteen St. Julie Primary School The topic for Essay Winners the contest was “How can primary school children protect themselves against AIDS?� Students in classes P4 through P7 were invited to write and submit their essays. They did so with only two days notice before the deadline. New Vision, the newspaper of Uganda, sponsored the contest and the Irish Aid Society provided funds for the prizes.

Sr. Mary Ethel

Water in Uganda, A Precious Resource

Most of us reflect little on the use of water in our lives. But in Uganda, water is not taken for granted. Since the beginning of the mission in 1995, water has always been a challenge and a concern for the sisters. When they first arrived, the sisters discovered that the chief source of water for the immediate area was the local water hole. It seems that the water came from Sr. Janet collecting water in a jerry can at the local a natural water hole in 1995. Insects floated in and on the spring, and water. in order to get water, the container was submerged in the small pool of standing water. Insects and other creatures floated both on top and in the water. This also entailed carrying water from the hole to the house, a distance that seemed to double when carrying a heavy container of water.

The sisters quickly learned that at the first drop of rain, they put out buckets, basins, and whatever else might catch the precious water. The water was then poured into jerry cans (a flat-sided can which holds over 19 gallons of water) and stored for use. In the early years, a borehole was dug, but it did not yield the amount of water that had been anticipated. As part of the construction of the convent, water tanks were built. Rainwater from the roof flowed into the gutters and was then directed into the water tanks. Here it was stored until used. Through the years, the water tanks began to leak and a new A student helper waits type of tank now dots the property of for the rainwater to fill the convent and school. Cooking, bathing (using a basin of water), washing clothing (again in a basin), and cleaning all require water. Since the school has no flush toilets and no showers, water use is controlled. All of these adaptations still rely on rainfall. In Uganda, a dry season of about three months is followed by a wet season of about three months; and the cycle continues. During the dry season, scarcity of water may be a serious problem, and water from the old water hole is sometimes used for cleaning floors and the like. Village children fill their jerry can at the borehole near the convent. The borehole never produced as much water as anticipated.

The precious water is used to wash students hands before meals. Personal hygiene is stressed whenever possible.

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Celebrating Sister Anita Marie’s Silver Jubilee - Ugandan Style

Sr. Anita Marie had the special thrill of celebrating her Silver Jubilee of profession in Buseesa. As the sisters began the planning, they recognized that this was a special occasion, not just for Sr. Anita Marie, but also for the staff and students of St. Julie and NDA, and the entire parish. Therefore the Mass was celebrated in the school’s dining hall because it is larger than the parish church. The room was Sr. Anita Maria at the Offertory Procession during her Silver Jubilee celebration in Buseesa decorated with banana leaves entwined with flowers, and colorful cloths. The liturgy was celebrated in both English and Runyoro, the native language. Students from St. Julie Primary School practiced their dancing and led the entrance procession. The boys wore shaker beads on their legs and the girls wore grass skirts. Some students dressed as angels and others carried spears since the Jubilee was celebrated on the feast of Christ the King. The children also danced down the aisle for the gospel procession, the presentation of gifts, and the dismissal, sometimes scattering flower petals as they danced.

Since the liturgy also included the renewal of Sister Anita Marie’s vows, she asked one student to translate the vows into Runyoro and coach her with the pronunciation. Sister remarked that the dining hall was totally quiet as she recited her vows of renewal in Runyoro and then in English. Sr. Delrita then placed a wreath around her neck. At the conclusion of the almost three hour long liturgy everyone gathered in the yard to offer Sister Anita Marie congratulations and continue the celebration. Sister Anita Marie was deeply touched by the outpouring of congratulations and support for her on the occasion of her Silver Jubilee.

Sr. Anita Marie On July 15, 1995, four Sisters of Notre Dame arrived in Uganda to begin the mission in Buseesa. Now, ten years later, the sisters reflect on all that has occurred and marvel at God’s goodness and care. Future issues of Drum Beats will relate some of the special and some of the ordinary - events of these past ten years.

Profile for Sisters of Notre Dame KY

Drumbeats | March 2005  

After Ten Years, Sr. Jane Marie Leaves Buseesa St. Julie Students Winners in Essay Contest Water in Uganda, A Precious Resource

Drumbeats | March 2005  

After Ten Years, Sr. Jane Marie Leaves Buseesa St. Julie Students Winners in Essay Contest Water in Uganda, A Precious Resource