Tag: service

Strimming With Students

StrimmerStrimming, weed whacking, weed eating, call it what you like, it’s a crazy process. Take a piece of nylon string, use a 2-stroke petrol engine to spin it around real fast, and then use that force to hack away at vegetation. As part of my …

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The Art of Physical Labour

DiggingService learning is one of the best elements in education, providing students with so many opportunities to learn, grow, see, do, give and connect. However, it is my experience that most students who undertake service learning do not have the skills required to really help …

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David Livingstone & Us

David Livingstone is a former child solider, a man who has suffered much, yet has committed himself to helping those around him. Kidnapped by the Lord's Resistance Army, and forced to fight someone else's war, he was marched around Uganda. This post tells a small part of David's story, as discovered by Class 7.1 at International College Hong Kong, whose students have been working on how to help those affected by years of war and violence in Uganda. The aim of my students is to raise money to help David supply farmers and children with the essential equipment they need to support themselves and become Uganda's next generation of leaders. If you are moved by these stories and would like to make a contribution to David's noble work, donations can be made to ‘Crossroads Foundation Ltd’. Please be sure to include a note in the ‘what for?’ box to designate the funds to the ‘Uganda Ox and Plough Project 2012’. Please also email ross@rossparker.org, so that we can track your donations.

The Students' Story

David Livingstone is a Ugandan man who is motivated to take action against a growing problem: Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Joseph Kony is world famous thanks to the Invisible Children team and their videos. A recent video called Kony 2012 rocketed up awareness of the problem around the world. Unfortunately, awareness is powerless if there is no action. There are still more than 10,000 children enslaved by the LRA and more children are being enslaved by the hour. David Livingstone is one of the many people who are doing their best to help a different aspect of the Ugandan problem. He is trying give to the ex-child soldiers a new life and a proper education. There is a reason he feels for this cause so much: David Livingstone himself was once a child soldier. He escaped by forming a group with some of the other child soldiers and waited for the right moment to make a break for it. At last, the time was right. Two separate groups of the LRA got into a fight with each other and opened fire. David and other child soldiers made a break for it. Not all of them made it. David was lucky. David escaped to a town where a lady helped him escape recapture and safely make it to a secure rehabilitation centre. David now spends his life trying to help child soldiers and giving them the best shot they have at a better life. David himself is one of the many that went through the rehabilitation, but there is a shortage of places that provide rehabilitation for ex-child soldiers. He is now helping Crossroads, Ox and Plow and many other organizations that are devoted to building schools and rehabilitation centers for ex-child soldiers and bring an end to the tyrant Kony’s reign. Written by Ben, Harry & Noel

Images

The Teacher's Story

David Livingstone is a Ugandan man, who, whilst less famous than his namesake, seems just as important in understanding contemporary Africa. David was introduced to me by a mutual friend from Crossroads Hong Kong, as someone my students might benefit from chatting with online. On hearing David's story, it is difficult to decide what is more amazing about him: the fact that he survived abduction by Joseph Kony's LRA, or that he is now trying to help other victims to rebuild their lives. Two months ago I had never heard of Jospeh Kony, or the LRA, but like many others, that was changed by the viral spread of Invisible Children's Kony 2012 campaign. Initially, I was shocked that this conflict had been going on for over 20 years, and that a tyrant who ruthlessly targets children could be operating with impunity. I tried immediately to spread the word, but then struggled to come up with meaningful ways to help a situation that seemed so remote and entrenched. After some thought I decided to turn the problem over to my students, in the hope that their young minds would succeed in taking action. Starting off with a small amount of information, a group of 12 boys and girls began learning as much as they could about the situation in Uganda. Over the past 6 weeks we have met each Monday to check progress and talk over ideas. I asked them to avoid focusing on fundraising, as I wanted them to aim for more direct action. Initially they struggled, but after a while they started coming up with some great ideas on what they could do. Independently, they started going door-to-door in their neighborhoods, interviewing people at the Star Ferry and making videos to share with others. Whilst this was all very positive, the net effect was marginal, and I felt we were lacking a way for students to really connect with the problem. When a few of the boys decided to shoot a dramatic reenactment of the situation in Uganda, I thought it might be worthwhile for them to visit Crossroads and take part in their Refugee Run simulation. With their encouragement, I contacted David Begbie at Crossroads, an amazing guy who I was fortunate enough to meet a few years ago. David was, as I had expected, a font of knowledge on the subject, having been to Uganda and witnessed firsthand the chaos taking place there. He threw his usual enthusiasm at the problem, and promised to introduce me to David Livingstone, a former child soldier who was trying to rebuild the lives of those around him. As learning goes, this seemed to be an incredible opportunity, not only for my students but also for myself. Within a week, we had made contact with David and set a time to chat with him via Skype. I pulled my students out of regular classes, and we gathered around my laptop to make the call. There was a certain air of nervous anticipation in the classroom, as students leaned forward in readiness. The conversation that transpired gave a small group of Hong Kong students a rare glimpse into a world they could scarcely imagine. As we heard David's voice, fragmented into digital packages and shot around the globe, my students suddenly had a real connection to a very serious problem. Despite the poor quality of the connection, and a considerable accent gap, I could literally see some of the students begin to understand what David had been through. Together, we learned that David was kidnapped at age seventeen, shortly after encountering LRA rebels at his school. Arriving for a day's classes, students were told to leave: when they asked to keep learning, they were told that they could come back tomorrow. However, if they chose to do this, they would be forced to kill, cook and eat their teachers. Realising the seriousness of the situation, they made plans to leave the area and find somewhere safer. Returning to their village to collect food, they set off on foot, only to be intercepted by another group of rebels. Accused of trafficking food to the government troops, one of the students was killed on the spot. Unable to escape or resist, they were kidnapped and forced to march and fight. Over the following 6 months, David witnessed brutality that cannot be imagined from the comfort of a regular, modern life. David managed to escape his captors during an internal struggle between two rebel groups. Others around him were gunned down as they fled. Having been physically displaced and disoriented, he was, however, in a perilous position, with a very real risk of being apprehended again. In the process of returning home, he spent time in a concentration camp, and repeatedly evaded capture. Home, though, is a very brittle construct, and returning to a devastated village, with no family to greet you, can scarcely count as a homecoming. As David told us, when your fields, animals and equipment have been taken from you, how can you possibly go on? It is in this that I find the greatest evidence of David's strength: it is clear that somehow he did rebuild, and that in doing so, he found the desire and ability to help others. When I thanked David for helping my students, he immediately asked a very direct question: how can you help our children who have suffered so much? My answer, given on the spot, was that with someone on the ground to work with, we would quickly set to work raising funds to help David supply others with plough, oxen, classrooms and teachers. And this brings me to the purpose of this article: how can you help the children, men and women of Uganda to rebuild their lives in the wake of years of brutality? Written by Ross Parker

Contributions

If you are moved by these stories and would like to make a contribution to David's noble work, donations can be made to ‘Crossroads Foundation Ltd’. Please be sure to include a note in the ‘what for?’ box to designate the funds to the ‘Uganda Ox and Plough Project 2012’. Please also email ross@rossparker.org, so that we can track your donations. Thanks!

Notes

  • Thanks to my students June, Rosie, Megan, Harry, Ben, Noel, Rachel, Gigi, Chance, Ray, Oscar & Nick for their hard work on this project.
  • We understand that there has been a lot of criticism of the methods used by Invisible Children, and rumours relating to this whole topic are rife on the Internet. However, whatever your feelings, it is undeniable that Invisible Children have raised the profile of this issue, and this has led multitudes of people and organisations to act positively for change. Our feeling is that enough has been done in terms of awareness and now is the time for more direct action.
  • David Livingstone has a long history working with Crossroads International, a trusted organisation in Hong Kong and around the world. We learned of David through Crossroads, and chose to work with him based on their recommendation.
  • Images of Ugandan children are property of David Livingstone and protected under copyright, and not covered by this sites Creative Common's License
  • Image of Ugandan flag is from http://pictureorphoto.blogspot.com/2012/01/uganda-flag-pictures.html, and not covered by this sites Creative Common's License

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