Joy School in Mbale, Uganda.

Sjimon and Ros meet the students at Joy School

     On Friday morning, July 28th 2017, Sjimon den Hollander (Chairman) together with Ros Eisen(Secretary) of Putti Village Assistance Org. (PVAO) a charity set up to support the Jewish Community in Putti, known as KKSY, set off for a three hour visit to the Joy School in Mbale, Uganda.
     On arrival they were most warmly greeted by Headmaster Richard Oluput.

Mr Richard, Sjimon and Erisha

     Currently, PVAO are funding 20 students who attend and indeed board, at the Joy school. Sjimon and Ros were joined by KKSY Head of Education, Erisha Ziraba, who was himself a former student at Joy. Jonathan Lali from KKSY was also present. 
     Headmaster Mr Richard, showed us a list of all the students under his instruction. One by one he told us about their education, their attitude, their achievements etc.  Each and every student he said, showed willingness to learn and had a good school attendance record, and he is delighted to have them attend his school. The headmaster pointed out that sometimes some of the newer students initially found some difficulty in settling at Joy, but after encouragement from both teachers and older students, they quickly adjusted. to their new surroundings.
     Sjimon particularly discussed Judaism, and Mr Richard was eager to understand more about what being a Jew really means. Apart from the obvious dietary laws, Sjimon spoke about what is expected from a Jewish person, how they should conduct themselves and look after one another, show respect for the older members and the Leaders of KKSY. Sjimon told them that united they (Jews) stand, divided they fall.
     A normal day at school starts at 7am, breakfast is served shortly after, then lessons begin. At 10.40am they stop for a 20minute break, then at 1pm they break for lunch with lessons resuming in the early afternoon. All subjects across the board are taught at Joy, including religious studies. This lesson covers learning about all religions, including Christianity, Islamic and Judaism. The local Mbale Muslim community, send an iman to the school from time to time, to teach his students more about their religion.
    Sjimon and Ros suggested that orthodox members of KKSY should also be invited to the school to talk about Judaism, and Mr Robert thought this was a really good idea and Erisha will organize this new development. One of the teachers at Joy is new convert to Judaism, his name is Were Michael. He is most enthusiastic and willing to work with KKSY and their students. Jewish students do not attend school on Jewish Religious Holidays, nor on Shabbat.
     In conversation, Mr Robert particularly mentioned two students, the first being a young man who is particularly good at football/soccer. He was picked to participate in the school football team. The team won all their matches and as such, were presented with a check made payable to the Joy school, (see photo). It’s hoped this boy use his particular skills later in life,  possibly training as a fitness instructor, a sports teacher, or even as a physical therapist. It was pointed out there is much need for physical therapists at the local clinics and hospitals. Another Joy student,  is excelling in science as well as mainstream subjects. It is hoped that she will go on to study medicine and ultimately become a doctor. 
     At between 17-20 years of age, students must select three subjects in which to specialize. Mr. Richard agreed to help them choose subjects that will ensure, after qualification, they will be able to get good jobs enabling them earn a respectable salary. PVAO/KKSY explained that we want our students to concentrate on jobs that will keep them living within the Putti KKSY village, or, at least be able to remain living and working in the nearby important town of Mbale. After talking on a ‘one to one’ with Mr Richard, Sjimon and Ros were invited to meet the students, 20 in total were present, some of these students had already left Joy and gone on to study their chosen subjects at a senior level. The students had gathered in a classroom where they had beautifully decorated the large blackboard with a Jewish symbolic theme.  They wrote in big letters, we welcome PVAO! (see photo)
     Out of the 20 students present, only 4 were girls but it must be said, these girls are doing brilliantly and they especially thanked PVAO from the bottom of their hearts, for giving them the opportunity to have a worthwhile education. Without an education, the girls would be expected to marry have children, cook and clean. Now these girls can decide their own future.
     A general question and answer period took place in the classroom. All the students introduced themselves and were eager to ask questions. Sjimon gave a talk about what it means to be a Jew. Ros told the students that they needed to learn a lot, study hard, get good jobs and earn money to enable them to take charge of their own future. They should not continuously rely on charity and ask for hand outs. The students should be proud of their family members who had recently worked on the successful agriculture project in KKSY.
     Ros initiated a competition… this competition has a first prize of $50. She said that students needed to become communicators with PVAO. They should regularly give us updates on their studies or whatever they felt was news worthy? She promised them that the best communications would be used on the website. The competition would be judged at the end of December. The students were all eager to participate, especially with such a big prize at stake.
    Finally, an opportunity for photos to be taken both inside and outside the school. Sjimon and Ros bid the students good bye and Shabbat Shalom
PVAO now needs to raise funds to send even more students to Joy school. All donations welcome.
Readers can donate either online (see link below) or send a check directly to PVAO c/o Sjimon den Hollander in NY USA. All donors will receive an official receipt.
*PVAO guarantee that ALL funds received will go towards the Education Project. No admin charges will be deducted