By Katelyn Decker, a member of the SkillCorps® Uganda July 2018 team
Since Sunday, #teamuganda has been working with #embracekulture to set the foundation for the partnership between #globalautismproject and Amaanyi Center in Entebbe, Uganda. Yesterday, I sat between two influential people, Teachers Stephen and Rosemary, as we collaborated to develop objectives for the next 4 months, and the process was incredibly empowering.
Watching Teacher Rosemary teach functional mathematics, seeing the students working on addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication, grouping with manipulatives, choral responding, and giving claps for recognition of a job well done, was so powerful. Seeing the staff collecting ABC data during classes and observing the autonomy of the students as they washed their own laundry in wash bins, gave me this feeling of steadfast determination, both for Amaanyi and my clients back home.
I had to stop and share with Teacher Rosemary, just how absolutely impressed I was with her and her expertise in teaching, and to see her expression lift, as if finally receiving the professional validation many of us seek, was something I am grateful to have had the opportunity to do.
I spoke with Amaanyi Center’s executive director, Christa, about how impressed I was with their students’ independence, and she shared with me that one of the things she set out to do in Uganda, was see what independence looked like where there wasn’t any other option.
I watched as Christa toured the center with representatives of parliament, and as they approached a young man named Darius, she explained,” Darius is having a condition called Autism.” They noted to us, that he appeared disinterested, and not a minute later he was showing them how he could engage and said the word elephant (something he had been working on with Auntie Barbara in class that day).
Listening to Unkle Derrick speak with pure passion about their advocacy and awareness efforts, hearing stories of the staff knocking on doors in Uganda and asking, “Do you know or have you seen a child with autism or developmental disabilities?” and noticing the quote on the back of the staff uniform #nomorehiddenchildren was humbling.
At the end of our training and introduction to evidence based practices and ourselves as professionals, this collaborative group gave claps ::clap clap clap, clap clap clap, clap:: and instantly, you heard the students reciprocate those claps from across the compound in their sports class.
There is an invisible, yet illuminated connection between people in Uganda, even when you aren’t in the same place, you are TOGETHER.