Students travel to Uganda to build school

The final phase of the Ames-Tororo Uganda Project is fast approaching. Two summers ago, 18 students traveled to Tororo, Uganda to begin the construction of a secondary school for girls. Upon their return, four classrooms were built, as well as offices for faculty. Last summer, 13 returned to Tororo to complete the second phase of the project, a dormitory for the students. This summer, 30 students will be traveling to Uganda to build a science lab and library, ultimately completing the construction of the school. Students and chaperones alike have been working hard to ensure a successful completion of the school. Fund raising has taken place all year through students and supportive parents. Other activities within Ames High have also donated money toward the cause. Not surprisingly, the project’s fund-raising goal of $30,000 was reached last month, and more money is being to be raised. This year, project organizer and social studies teacher Tim Mooney put a twist on traditional fund-raising by selling Bugisu Coffee, authentic roasted coffee from the Bugisu Mountains of Uganda. “Coffee sales were over the roof,” Mooney said. “We sold more than 5,000 pounds, making about one third of our fund-raising goal from coffee alone.” To accommodate for the increased interest of students this year for the trip, the total group was divided into two smaller groups. Group one will leave May 31 from Des Moines, and will reach Tororo June 2 after 48 hours of travel. Group two will leave June 7, exactly one week after. Out of the three weeks the students will be in Tororo, both groups will spend one week together, which includes work on the school building as well as a safari and a white-water rafting trip on the Nile River. Each individual group will also spend one entire week at the school work site, and the final week will be spent visiting a small rural village and the nation’s capital. Students are anxiously waiting for the day they can finally step foot in the plane headed for Uganda. “It’s worth taking all my finals early to go to Africa,” junior Melissa Brockway said, a member of the first group. “I can’t wait to go. I know it’s going to be amazing.” Many students are not only going to Uganda for the service portion of the trip, but also for the experience the social and cultural change will provide. A stark contrast from American society, rural Ugandan villages often do not have continuous electricity, and many households must get their water supply from an outdoor pump or well. “Living in a first-world country, I feel out of touch with real human experience,” sophomore Wyatt Miller said. Miller, like others, is anticipating what to expect while staying in Tororo. Not all students going on the trip will be new to Tororo, however. A select few students have previously gone on the trip and were so affected by the experience that they decided to go again. “I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and even though I had gone last year, I still thought I should take advantage of what was offered to me,” junior Lily Dobson said. “The trip really affected me, and I just want to help as much as I can.” In less than two weeks, the first group of students will be on their way to Uganda, with the second group following them shortly after. As this project comes to a close, future projects are being looked into. “In June, we’re going to try to find something else for us to participate in,” Mooney said. “As of now, nothing is definite.”