I teach music at a nice private school in Southern California. A really, really nice school, and kind of a pricey one. It’s a great place to work. But this morning I woke up in a bad mood, because I was going to be (gasp) inconvenienced today. My nice music room is being used for something else for a few weeks, so I’m having to go classroom to classroom, taking equipment on a cart, and doing music in their rooms, instead of my room. The horror. The unfairness. How can I expect to teach under these conditions?
Meanwhile, in Kampala, most kids don’t go to school. And most schools don’t have music teachers. And they certainly don’t have nice music rooms with grand pianos and great furniture and lots of cool instruments, including 25 ukuleles. How can they expect to teach under those conditions?
I got up this morning, figured out what I wanted to wear, got myself ready, grabbed a banana and a cup of coffee, loaded all my nice equipment (my keyboard, my Macbook Pro, my nice new ukulele) into my SUV and started off for school (I had to make two trips to the car, for heaven’s sake), being greatly inconvenienced by all the traffic and extra long red lights. After an arduous drive, I got here and pulled into a parking lot full of pretty nice cars.
Meanwhile, in Kampala, students got out of dirty beds, put on the only clothing they have, didn’t eat anything, got themselves ready, and started the walk to school – sometimes up to 9 miles. (I wanted to say they walk 9 miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways, but that’s more of an Alaska story and not so much Uganda). When they arrive at school, after an arduous walk, tired and hungry, they start their work.
Since I had to go from room to room today rather than being headquartered in my nice music room, I had to tune 25 ukuleles outside in the 72 degree Southern California weather. Then I went into the classroom, and rather than my usual projection system, I had to use the 3rd grade classroom’s system, and (horror) ask the 3rd grade teacher how to turn it on. I was embarrassed and inconvenienced, but somehow we got through the difficult half hour, teaching 3rd graders how to play “Singing in the Rain.” Although it wasn’t raining.
Meanwhile in Kampala, where no one has ever heard of ukuleles, students at New Creation school went outside, where it was probably hot, humid and likely raining, and stood under a metal covering and sang and danced for an hour or two, thankful for the opportunity to walk nine miles to a school paid for by generous American sponsors.
See where I’m going with this? I have nothing to complain about, but I find a way to do it. They have everything to complain about, but they sing and dance with thankfulness.
This summer, I’ll be in Kampala visiting the New Creation Center, as well as working on medical teams for Loving One by One. If you’d like to help me get there, I’ll be hosting a concert on Sunday, March 15 at 4pm, in Rancho Palos Verdes CA. If you’d like to attend and hear my talented friends singer/songwriter John Torres, ukulele artists Heidi Swedberg and Daniel Ward, and jazz pianist Charles Williams, and see the sunset over the beautiful Pacific Ocean, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll give you further information.
And – be thankful!
Wanted you to know that after having read “Waking Up in Africa” I began following LOBO on facebook. After following their work for quite a long time (takes me a while to make a commitment) I began helping to sponsor a child in secondary school there. My point, I guess, is just keep telling anyone who will listen. It makes a difference.