Just over a year ago, we provided the opportunity for one customer to follow their dollar and see firsthand the difference being made in Southern Uganda as a result of purchasing Cotton On Foundation products.
In order to win the opportunity, we asked our customers to tell us how they would help break the cycle of poverty in Southern Uganda.
Kate, a primary school teacher from Torquay, Australia, was lucky enough to be the successful recipient, following her dollar all the way to Uganda! You can read all about her trip here.
One year on, we wanted to find out how the trip continues to impact her life........
Q: It’s been just over a year since you returned from your trip to Uganda, when you look back on the time there, what memory stands out the most?
My biggest memory from my time in Mannya would have to be the people I met. Everyone had their own story to tell and they were all so passionate about their own community. It was clear that everyone wanted to create a better life for the children of Mannya and they’re working incredibly hard to make that happen.
Q: Did this trip change you in anyway, if so how?
From my time in Mannya I was exposed to a very different way of living. I suppose my trip to Mannya has made me more aware of issues in our world, but gives you hope and reassurance that there are people and organisations that are incredibly dedicated to help.
Since Mannya, I really try not to worry about the ‘smaller’ things in life and I try to reinforce this to my students – we are so lucky to live in Australia and there are always ways in which we can help others.
Q: How did you find the experience as a teacher? Did you learn anything from the students or the teachers in Southern Uganda which has seen you approach your work as a teacher differently?
I can’t say there was one teaching approach or strategy that has seen me change my teaching however, it was more the inspiration that I took away from meeting the principals, teachers and students from Mannya that has influenced my teaching. From meeting these people it ignited a passion that I have for education, but it made this passion stronger. I really saw how education could change a whole community out of very extreme and very sad circumstances.
I love following the Cotton On Foundation via Instagram and keeping up with the progress that’s being made in Mannya, especially seeing the very recent success of St Nicholas Primary School - 100% of their students pass their exams!!! Again, these posts inspire me to be a better teacher and help motivate and engage my students every day.
Q: What learnings from your trip did you bring back to your school and the children you teach?
I love to show my students the presentation I made from my time in Mannya. It’s full of photos, history and videos and is the perfect teaching tool when we begin our Term 4 unit, ‘Reaching Out’ – helping others in our community, country and our world.
From this presentation along with listening to Cotton On Foundation staff members present to our students, we (the teachers) find our students are passionate in helping others and often want to find ways they can help the Mannya community, Australian Indigenous communities and families less fortunate in our local areas.
Last year, we had students collecting pairs of shoes, glasses and used books to send over to Africa and we have even had students organize their own fun run, with all profits going to an African orphanage.
Q: In what ways have you shared your experience with others?
When I first arrived home, I shared my experience by just telling anyone who would listen to me! As mentioned, I created my presentation for staff and students at school but one of the easiest ways to share moments and stories from my time in Mannya is through social media. I have put some photos on Instagram and of course, shared my diary entries via the Cotton On Foundation website. I still get asked about my time in Mannya and love sharing my experience.
Q: Are you still connected to Mannya Village and how?
Yes, I’m still very connected to Mannya. I stay up to date through social media and keep in contact with Jimmy, one of the education co-ordinators on the ground in Southern Uganda. I also sponsor a child and hear about their progress regularly and have set up a pen pal system for my students to write to Mannya students throughout the year. I love seeing them feel connected to Mannya by researching what the Cotton On Foundation do and watching You Tube clips on what life is like in Mannya.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
Mannya is really ingrained in the way I think and speak to my students. Throughout the year I will draw on my experiences from Mannya – in circumstances that I wouldn’t imagine. I may talk about Mannya when we need a quick ‘reality check’, or when there are social issues that arise from the news and the students need a deeper understanding on what life is like in countries like Africa. And then I find myself, talking about the successes there, what makes a community sustainable and what happiness is really about (not the materialistic things in life, but feeling connected to people, family and community). Mannya is still one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had and sometimes I still can’t believe how lucky I was to be given the opportunity – thank you, again!!!
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