City Centre Mirror
While the horrors visited on the people of Uganda by Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) were well-publicized, Ryerson University student Zoe Goodman did more than most to help undo the harm he did.
Goodman, an early childhood education student who lives in the Bathurst Street and Eglinton Avenue area, travelled to Barlonyo, Uganda, with the charity Children of Hope Uganda to help the youth victims of the LRA recover from the conflict and integrate themselves into the school system.
“A lot of the kids were eight or nine and had never been in school before,” she said. “I worked with a vocational school for (children returning after fleeing the conflict) and it was such a small village, but we had to work with about 400 children aged three to nine.”
Goodman knew about the LRA largely through a friend and, when given a chance to do her fourth year placement overseas, she jumped at the opportunity to help out in Uganda.
“I liked that Children of Hope was a smaller organization and that they were actually going and helping the survivors,” she said.
While in Uganda, she helped create a curriculum for the school, prepare teaching materials and train the four teachers who will be responsible for educating the village’s children. That was no small feat given the general lack of education in Barlonyo.
“There was a lot of teaching them things and then repeating that, but everyone was so eager to learn,” she said. “I was teaching them to write letters of the alphabet and other things we just take for granted, but the teachers (she was training) were amazing. They had no background in education, but they just took to it.”
Goodman also helped write out a detailed budget for the educational program in order to ensure its ongoing success. Coming up with a budget posed its own challenges, as educational staples such as pencils were cost-prohibitive in Uganda.
“To us, it’s not expensive at all, but to them, those things are expensive,” she said. “I learned, though, that all the stuff we have here isn’t really necessary. You can teach children without those things.”
While her placement was hard work, she noted she gained more from the experience than she would have had she taken a placement in a local school.
“I went there to teach and I came back with way more knowledge than I left with,” she said.