Archives for December 2011

Welcome, Ms. Namatovu Catherine!

After a long couple of years and two previous, frustrating attempts, Ms. Namatovu Catherine, the headmistress of Mwebaza School, will set foot in the U.S. for the very first time!  On Monday, December 5th, she will arrive in Denver for a lengthy 3 ½ week stay in Colorado.   After years of anticipation, so many teachers, staff members, students, and parents are eagerly waiting her arrival.

Several key components allowed us to finally secure a travel visa for Ms. Namatovu.  These include Mwebaza Foundation President Dale Peterson’s recent award from People to People International, Congressman Jared Polis’ staff working to convince the U.S. embassy in Uganda of Ms. Namatovu’s integrity, and the help of a generous immigration lawyer from Boulder (Megan Hall, Green & Gardner Law Firm).  Ms. Hall assisted Ms. Namatovu in assembling a portfolio showing her strong ties to her home country.  Of course, much credit can be attributed to Ms. Namatovu’s hard work, persistence, and faith.

During her stay in Colorado, Ms. Namatovu has a busy and exciting agenda planned.  After a short time to recuperate from traveling, she will be visiting and observing classrooms at Niwot Elementary, as well as giving classroom presentations to Niwot students about Mwebaza School and Ugandan culture.  Then, on December 15th, there will be a culminating, all-school, “All-American” celebration in honor of the cross-cultural friendship between Niwot and Mwebaza schools.  In addition to spending time at Niwot Elementary, Ms. Namatovu will be visiting Coyote Ridge, Lyons, and Eagle Crest Elementary Schools, where she will deliver more classroom presentations.

Sprinkled amongst her work at schools, Ms. Namatovu will be enjoying a myriad of social events, including holiday gatherings, sight-seeing, dinners out, and even spending the holiday in Durango and Colorado Springs with the Peterson family.  New experiences such as sledding, a Narrow Gauge Train ride, and a visit to Garden of the Gods and Seven Falls will culminate her travels.

It is with gratitude and warmth that we welcome Ms. Namatovu to Colorado!

MF President Recognized with Award from International Organization

Dale Peterson, President and Founder of the Mwebaza Foundation, recently accepted an award from People to People International (PtPI).  Peterson received PtPI’s “School and Classroom Community Service Project Award” for his work through the Mwebaza Foundation.  The award was presented at PtPI’s Global Youth Forum in Kansas City on November 12.

The award is given to a teacher who has actively worked to develop student cross-cultural understandings through a connection with a foreign school.  Peterson fostered a friendship between his first grade class and Mwebaza School in Uganda.  He was originally connected to Mwebaza School through PtPI’s School Program.  The international friendship that resulted eventually transformed into the Mwebaza Foundation, and now involves three Colorado schools, three African schools, and hundreds of children on two continents.  In presenting the award to Peterson, PtPI School and Classroom Program Coordinator, Paige Badgett, acknowledged that the Mwebaza Foundation has gone well beyond student cultural interaction, but has additionally encouraged and equipped students at its Colorado partner schools to work to improve conditions at their African partner schools.

Peterson was also acknowledged at the ceremony by Mary Jean Eisenhower, CEO of PtPI and granddaughter of the founder of PtPI, President Dwight Eisenhower.

In his acceptance speech, Peterson recognized the corresponding contributions of his Ugandan colleague, Namatovu Catherine, the headmistress of Mwebaza School.  He expressed agreement with PtPI’s philosophy that true, sustainable change can only happen if those involved really take the time to develop meaningful relationships with one another.

The Global Youth Forum involved over 100 youth from many different countries, learning communication and teamwork skills while developing cultural sensitivity through formal and informal interaction with one another.  Ms. Eisenhower ended the Global Youth Forum by urging those present to strive to make a difference in the world, even if it seems that one’s efforts are in vain.  She concluded her speech with this powerful quote from Mother Teresa:

People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.

If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.

For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

Peterson and the Mwebaza Foundation are delighted to be recognized by such an established, respected, and dedicated organization as People to People International.

MF Given Matching Funds Grant from Heaven’s Hope for School Construction!

The Mwebaza Foundation recently was granted $25,000 from the Heaven’s Hope Foundation of Boulder.  The Heaven’s Hope Foundation has worked closely with the Mwebaza Foundation in the past on several projects including the egg-laying chickens and keyhole gardens projects at Mwebaza and St. Paul Schools in Uganda, and the rainwater collection project at Mwebaza School.

The grant was given for the purpose of building a school for 10-14-year-old students on land purchased by the Mwebaza Foundation for Mwebaza School, and for building a new school building to replace the crumbling school buildings at St. Paul School.  This grant represents about half the amount that will be needed to complete these two projects.

Heaven’s Hope’s president, Mark Crossen, announced the grant at a dinner party given in honor of Ms. Namatovu Catherine, headmistress of Mwebaza School.  Ms. Namatovu is in Colorado during the month of December, visiting the partner schools of the Mwebaza Foundation, and sharing her culture with classrooms of students.

The grant will be awarded once the Mwebaza Foundation has raised $25,000 to match the grant sum.  We would appreciate your help in garnering the funds needed to meet this match, and make these two schools a reality for our African friends!