Inspired. Encouraged. Motivated.
That’s how members of the Heart For People Club felt after spending time in the company of Segawa Ephraim, founder of the Adorable School in Uganda.
Ephraim visited Boonton High School on May 22, 2018 during his first trip to the United States and spoke about his work at the Adorable School and three other facilities, which provide education for children, many of them orphans affected by war and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa.
Rev. Kim Urbanik of the Christian Drama School of New Jersey introduced Ephraim. Urbanik has traveled to Uganda to work with volunteers and schools in the U.S., helping to coordinate fundraising efforts for the African schools. She approached the embassies and the ambassadors to help her with the approval process for Ephraim’s visa, a challenging process. Regarding her own experiences in Uganda, Reverend Urbanik remarked that it is “a country that needs our help, as its people have been impacted greatly by political upheaval and war, and also devastated by the spread of AIDS.”
Urbanik shared her experiences, and commented, “Working in the fields is difficult. You develop open sores on the palms of your hands. We used hoes and I worked in the potato fields. It is hard work.”
“Also, when you are done working, they provide food for us,” she added. “Segawa’s wife has a restaurant in Uganda and she is very creative with her ingredients serving us delicious food. She does her best to serve us the good rice, meaning, the rice without insects. A good meal would consist of rice, potatoes, and beans. This is not to be confused with the meal that they serve the children, at the school.”
Ephraim stated that it takes many “shillings” to feed all of his children, to purchase a type of corn flour that is used for porridge, and served at the schools. When describing the school conditions, Segawa remarked, “The people of Uganda share everything. In the schools, one pencil is broken into thirds so that three may now write. If there is a book, it is torn in half, so that others may read. Children sit on low banks, close to the ground. A classroom this size would be used for 100 children in Uganda.”
Heart For People club members listened intently as Ephraim told them what U.S. dollars could purchase. For example, a goat in Uganda costs the equivalent of $80. The club has considered raising money to purchase goats to help provide a sustainable source of revenue for the Adorable Schools. The female goats usually reproduce twice per year, giving birth to twin kids. They have a market to sell the goat meat, and there are Arab countries that are their customers.
The funds they raise purchase food for the children, desks, school supplies and building materials. Ephraim mentioned that, at times, there is no plan when they begin a building project. They just jump in and start gathering the raw materials together, such as piles of sand. They combine this with everyone pitching in, contributing their labor. When there is no money, a person with a degree has crossed the border to teach at a university, and then takes that money to return home and pay his school teachers in Uganda.
Mrs. Sinatra, adviser to the Heart For People Club, remarked, “I think that it was important for us to invite Segawa to speak to the club so that members can see where their funds collected go, such as the money from their can shakes.”
Going forward, Mrs. Sinatra hopes to include more of the BHS community in their fundraising efforts, to help Ephraim improve the education and living conditions for his many school children in Uganda.
Ephraim’s efforts impressed Joanna Kondroski, a junior.
“Segawa was so inspiring,” Kondroski said. “You could tell how much the kids he helped mean to him. He really just wanted to do better for the world. Segawa was such a nice man who motivated me to do things for the world that are bigger than myself.”
Brittany Ruud was touched as well by Ephraim’s visit.
“Meeting Segawa was a wonderful experience that not everyone is lucky enough to receive,” Ruud said. “To meet someone who truly puts the care of others as their top priority is inspiring and beautiful. Seeing all that Segawa has done for these children has encouraged me to continue on my path of wanting to help kids through the fields of psychiatry or psychology.
“Although it is a different way of helping kids than what Segawa does, in his own way he provides a form of therapy to the kids he helps.”
Ms. Christina Buck is a Spanish teacher at Boonton High School and a supporter of its many clubs.