The following is the final installment of our three-part story on Carlow's involvement in supporting and transforming lives of people in Uganda. To learn more about our student and faculty work in this important region, read the Winter 2014 issue of Carlow University Magazine today.
In 2013, Mary Burke, PhD, professor and director of Carlow's
doctoral program in counseling psychology, and Susan O'Rourke, EdD,
professor of education and director of Carlow's special education
program, were invited to Uganda to evaluate possibilities for
teacher training in special needs education.
Students crowd around shared resources in a busy Ugandan classroom.
"[Ugandan] Children with disabilities are often referred to as
'hidden children,' explains O'Rourke, "given the cultural belief
that mothers who give birth to a disabled child are cursed."
"The stigma associated with not only being disabled but giving
birth to a child with a disability serves to ostracize both the
child and the mother from society," she adds, "confining them in
their home to care for the child and hide themselves."
In 2014, Burke and O'Rourke traveled to
Uganda twice, taking teams of educators, including doctoral candidates Leah
Russell, Nicole Currivan, and Katie McIntyre; Carlow early
childhood education master's candidate Emily Atheson; and Carlow
adjunct education instructor Pauline Greenlick.
Internationally-recognized mural artist Kyle Holbrook and American
educator/magicians Kevin Spencer and Mike Thompson also made the journey, providing arts-based therapeutic training for teachers,
administrators, government officials, parents, and caregivers.
The team was assisted by a $5,000 grant from the Grace Ann Geibel Institute for Justice and Social Responsibility, with the hopes of providing not only education and instruction, but also hope and
joy. They offered 16 days of workshops, providing support for
parents, training for teachers, and information about increasing
access to inclusive schools.
They also designed an Arts Day at Bright Kids Uganda, a children's home in Entebbe, inviting children to paint,
learn magic tricks, and role play with finger puppets—the first
time in Bright Kids' history that volunteers planned fun-filled
activities for children at the home. Children with disabilities
were encouraged to join their typically developing peers for a
truly inclusive event.
Students crowd around magician and educator Kevin Spencer during "Arts Day."
Other efforts included development of a community-based
curriculum that went hand-in-hand with the creation of a school
"We needed to design a curriculum that could allow students of
all abilities to participate and develop valuable skills, at the
same time providing them with food," says O'Rourke.
At the St. Francis School for the Blind in the city of Soroti,
the team adapted keyboards for students who are blind or visually
impaired, training 10 teachers how to effectively use a recently
donated computer resource room
O'Rourke provides training in the new computer resource room.
And, using materials purchased with funds they had raised
themselves, the team mixed the mortar for cement blocks from
scratch - literally setting the foundation in place - for an
inclusive school where 130 children are already enrolled.
"The movement to include these children, who were previously
discarded and hidden, into schools is a positive step-one in which
we're making a difference," says O'Rourke.
To learn more about Carlow University's involvement in the lives of women, men, and children throughout Uganda, read the full article in the Winter 2014 issue of the Carlow University Magazine.