Good Samaritan Ministries Uganda empowers people through education and as such has schooled 6,000 students since it started in 1990. It has more than 1,500 children currently in nursery, primary or secondary school programs.
Relationships continue with alumni, many who return to teach at GSM schools.
Locally, Walla Wallans Michelle Paine and 8-year-old daughter Elizabeth, as well as Carlos Fuentes visited schools and met with GSM workers for a week each in Uganda and Tanzania from July 31-Aug. 16, said Michelle, a Garrison Middle School special education teacher.
This was a time of reconnection in Africa for Michelle who in 2008-2009 taught at GSM primary and secondary schools in Kiwangala, Uganda.
“While preparing for the trip, Elizabeth thought of all the children without shoes and raised funds through Nampa, Idaho, nonprofit The Shoe that Grows to take 320 pairs that can change five different sizes for every student at the school in Nambirizii, Uganda, to have a pair of shoes,” Michelle said.
“There were enough shoes left over that each child at the St. Carlos Nursery School in Tanzania also received a pair of shoes,” she said.
Elizabeth raised the money by sharing about the shoes at church, bazaars and individual people and at the local Good Samaritan Ministries fireworks stand that fundraises for Uganda.
The pair also received bags from Walla Walla Public Library to make school supply bags for teachers at the Nambirizii school.
In addition, each student and staffer at Nambirizii Primary School and Tanzania’s Bettie Mitchell Secondary School received drawstring backpacks collected from Walla Walla Orthodontics on Penny Lane. After Michelle told personnel there about her Africa trip and the needs of people there, the practice gave her backpacks it had on hand that bore its old logo.
Of the 31 million people in Uganda, more than half are under age 14.
“We stand with the teachers who are courageously raising up this generation — and as these children have grown, they have begun to pour back into the community,” reported gsmuganda.org/.
Michelle and Elizabeth met with teachers at each school in Uganda to hear their successes and concerns, she said.
In Kiwangala, the primary school took first in the district netball competition and the secondary school took first in the regional — about 300-school — chess competition. The primary and secondary schools also took first in Bible competitions.
Michelle and Elizabeth helped provide a special meal for the school as a celebration for these successes.
“One of the biggest concerns for the schools is teacher salaries as many of the students are orphans or do not have the necessary funds for school fees. The salaries, about $200 a month per teacher, are largely paid through donations,” Michelle said.
In Tanzania, GSM brought its leaders from Cameroon, Burundi, Rwanda, Malawi and Kenya for counselor training classes.
“It was a great time of connection and training. The leaders learned the importance of involving your children in serving others and receiving training as they watched Elizabeth give shoes and attend the training,” Michelle said.
A Walla Walla High School alumna, Michelle earned her elementary education degree and masters of teaching (primary) at Northwest University, in Kirkland, Wash. She is secretary of the GSM International Board.
Although she and Elizabeth got malaria while there, they’re fully recovered, Michelle said.
For more information about GSM Uganda, see gsmuganda.org/.