As young parents, when our daughter qualified for baby class, the excitement was in the air. In the vicinity of our home, in all sorts of billboards from the recycled-tin charcoal-inscribed to the digital, a myriad of preschools advertised themselves. It seemed easy to choose one within a walking distance where we thought we could save on transport. That was until after three weeks after enrolling our daughter, the then barely three-year-old came home with bleeding claw-like scratches on the back of her hand. All she could say was, “daddy, teacher! Teacher!” She said pointing at the bloody-red scars on the back of her right hand.
A couple of years before the incident, I had decided to settle in Uganda with my newly wedded wife. Born, bred, and educated in the neighboring Kenya, the excitement of a new environment was overwhelming. I had not figured out the cultural shock that would come in waves crashing savagely on the sea shore. To a newcomer, Ugandans may seem outwardly disinterested. This is until you realize that some of those who seem so disinterested – and who you only know in passing – know your name, your wife and her name, the names and number of children you have, what you do for living, where you take your children to school, where you were born, and so many other things, some of which you barely remember. Similarly, some people who may show interest in you, actually have no interest.
So, when I registered my child for preschool, I had not suspected that people who seem so disinterested can be so interested! Every time I arrived at the school’s gate, a lady, who I assumed was the teacher, would meet us and greet us so well. Within two weeks I had developed an attachment with this young lady for her caring attitude and concern for my daughter. You see, I am not the randy male, I treat both genders alike. During this same time I noticed a very disinterested lady, who would appear in the background apparently busy with other things, who actually turned out that she was the actual teacher of my daughter. The one who received us was the assistant to this disinterested lady. This disinterested lady is the one who actually ended up presiding over the abuse of our innocent daughter.
The day my daughter was assaulted, I saw this disinterested lady – or let us just call her a twenty two year old woman mother of one – just after I handed my daughter to the hands of the assistant. I was standing at the school gate where no parents were allowed to pass. I absentmindedly handed the assistant some cash tip and I walked away, slightly noticing this disinterested woman in the background. That evening my daughter came home crying and saying, “look, teacher, teacher!” Pointing to bleeding hands. I remember weeping bitter tears as I was disinfecting her. What came into my mind was the image of the allegedly cannibal Idi Amin who ruled Uganda in the 1970s. Fear clawed under my skin.
But what amazed me more is the disinterest that the school management showed. Incredibly, they ‘requested’ that I drop the case and leave it to them. Furthermore, they expected that we continue sending our daughter to the school as they dealt with the issue. A local administrator who used to by-pass me without saying hello, said hello for the first time, and softly told me that I ought to drop the case. At the church, we shared the trauma but not even the pastor had an idea of what could be done. We forgave the offending teacher and school but withdrew our daughter. We managed through the entire nightmare through prayer.
The trauma that my wife and I went led us to start a Child Protection Social Action (CPSA) program whose first project is to develop an Early Childhood Education Manual to be available online to all caretakers. The project’s challenges include a shortage of volunteer-researchers and writers in early childhood. Also in due course, we have encountered children who, in the first place, do not have the privilege of early childhood education because their parents have not taken them to school. It occurs that we had underestimated the task. To participate in the CPSA program – as a donor or volunteer – get in touch.
One reply on “Working with children can see you help future generations”
It’s very sad but maybe a God’s way of opening your eyes to become the voice of the voiceless.. Keep up the initiative and may God help you grow to a big organisation.
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