By Dylan Hackett, News Editor
Last Friday, Uganda Project graduate Priscilla Bartleman-Wolf shared her plans to develop a community centre and school for Ugandan children with a small captive audience. Attending Bartleman-Wolf’s talk were other students who had experienced the Uganda Project with her, instructors and organizers of the event, community members, and New Westminster MLA Dawn Black.
[quote]“Everyone has a skill. If you highlight those skills and abilities, they still have a chance of having success in their life—whatever that may be… they can become independent and self-sufficient.”[/quote]
“I want to start a new project. How that came about was when I was hanging out with some friends in Masaka, and I said that ‘I would really like to stay a while longer.’ And I did. I spent time with children there, and that’s when I better understood what life was like for some of these children,” Bartleman shared, explaining her extended stay in the Ugandan city after the formal semester was finished.
“Everyone has a skill. If you highlight those skills and abilities, they still have a chance of having success in their life—whatever that may be… they can become independent and self-sufficient.
“There are two reasons I want to build a school. One is because I really like to idea of implementing life skills into the school—that’s something they’ve tried to do in the curriculum: having teachers who can show that to students and having the community work on those life skills. The other reason is that the kids who go to the dorms will have free access to that school and for the first year they’re with guardians,” Bartleman-Wolf shared.
Speaking as an Aboriginal Canadian, Bartleman-Wolf related the home-grown experiences in poverty on reserves to those of Uganda’s poor.
“When you think about the reserves we have here and where I grew up, it’s very similar… I’m used to being on a reserve where you have to boil water, you have to find food, and you’re under-housed. There’s a similar experience across the world.”
Bartleman-Wolf ‘s brother, Vincent Bartleman, also shared his role in helping design the logo for the project, jesting about how “over 20 different were thrown at me.”
The Ugandan Project is an annual field school that has trained students in social work in the impoverished equatorial nation since 2006. According to Janice Spencer, instructor and facilitator for the program, a three-principle approach is taken to the trip. Students are to go as learners, to make sure all projects have a sustainability (to combat criticisms of “voluntourism”), and that they do no harm to the communities that host them.
Photo of Priscilla Bartleman-Wolf with the children in Nyendo. Photo Credit: Julius Lule.