Back to School

The new school year began in Uganda on February 2nd 2015, and our scholars were amongst thousands of high school students traveling from distant places back to school. Our Uganda girls arrived at the Valvisions Foundation office in Kampala early that morning, after the usual six-hour bus ride from their homes in Kapchorwa district. Not even the long journey could put a damper on their mood; they were all excited to be going back to school. The holiday was great, they said, but after more than eight weeks at home, they were eager for something different. At Valvisions Foundation, we are always relieved and thrilled when our girls return from the long December holiday without incident, as this can be a highly risky time for girls who live in communities that still practice Female Genital Mutilation/cutting (FGM). It is during these long school holidays that a girl may be cut, or even married off, simply because she has a more prolonged presence in her village at this time. As a boarding school, Mount of Olives College Kakiri (MOCK) is a safe place for our girls to be for the next three months of the first term, and the rest of the school year. They were welcomed back to school by the principal of MOCK, Ms. Regina Laboke. Ms. Laboke has over 30 years of experience in education, most of which have been spent on educating teenage girls at various establishments in Uganda. According to Ms. Laboke, the girls sponsored by Valvisions Foundation add a unique flavor to the school, because they are a physical representation of their community and therefore, provide everyone else with a chance to learn more about their distinctive culture. Most people tend to associate the Sebei tribe – to which our girls belong – with only one ‘negative’ aspect, that of FGM. And yet, the Sebei, like other African tribes, obviously have a multi-faceted heritage, one that is also rich in music and folklore amongst other things. For example, the people of the mountainous region from which they come, are incredibly athletic, most famously for winning international medals in long distance marathons. This has been attributed to the fact that they are exposed to hard terrain and thin mountain air from childhood. This is one of the reasons the Principal of MOCK has taken our girls under her wing; she has already noticed that several...

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