Atanga Girls Secondary School: Phase 2
Lotte Davis Journal Diary
This is my sixth trip to Northern Uganda since 2009, when we first started to rebuild Atanga Girls School. The 20-year war incited by Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army had just ended. He infamously turned on the very people who supported him, by abducting their children to become sex slaves and child soldiers, leaving as part of his legacy a generation of uneducated children.
When we first took this project on, the school consisted of four classrooms, a dormitory and 80 girls. Phase One saw the addition of three science labs, four classrooms, a library, a kitchen and a dining hall. But these beautiful new buildings did nothing to increase enrollment, and in fact, four years later, it began to decline. Poverty and an inability to pay school fees was the primary reason, coupled with gender selection, what money a family did have was leveraged against their boys.
At the end of 2014, we began Phase Two that was focused on revitalizing the school, increasing enrollment and adding more infrastructure to ensure the school would meet the standards needed for boarding girls, and to convince their parents that this school was worth investing in.
We offered scholarships to 41 students selected from the surrounding five districts. We received over 124 applications and chose the brightest and most motivated girls, knowing that these students would bring a new vitality and raise the academic standard of the school.
We then built six new houses for teachers, which was imperative to attract and retain good teaching staff. Soon we will begin building six more.
Next we built a large washroom facility for the students. It included indoor showers and toilets, two necessities that had been sadly lacking.
I read every one of the applications these girls sent to us. I was both shocked and humbled by the brutality these girls had witnessed and experienced, and the level of poverty they grew up in during the war. Their resilience and determination to get an education and make something of their lives was moving beyond words. What we can offer them is comparatively easy for us to achieve, and completely life changing for them. It’s nothing short of a privilege to be able to help them realize their dreams, one girl at a time.
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