Experiencing Uganda

Published 11:42 pm Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Charles Henderson students participate in the annual Walk-a-Thon in in Troy, Ala., Tuesday, May 15, 2012. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

CHHS students get a feel for how ‘blessed’ they are

Learning by example could be the driving force behind the Charles Henderson High School’s Annual Walk-a-Thon and Books for Hope programs which seek to help children in Uganda.

On Tuesday, students at CHHS took part in a multi-mile walk throughout Troy as part of the program.

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The walk is designed to show students what children in Uganda, who sometimes have to walk six to twelve miles to a safe place to spend the night, go through on a daily basis.

After the walk, students are then treated to a meal, which unbeknownst to them consists of only rice and beans.

“I started it because I wanted students to realize how blessed we are as Americans and to get a glimpse into the lives of people from around the world,” Karla Johnson, a CHHS teacher in charge of the program, said. “Not only can we do something to help these children but we can realize how blessed we are.”

The walk, which sees around 20 student participants each year, is only one part of the program. Students are asked to write a research paper highlighting a social issue, but are mainly asked to help create children’s books to send to orphanages in Uganda.

The books are non-fiction, but are written and illustrated with a fiction plot that helps both entertain and teach children about things such as the alphabet, numbers, science and other topics.

After they are written and bound, the books will be sent out on June 1 to be delivered to the children.

Many of the children in Uganda have been forced into the civil wars that occur there, both as workers and soldiers, a fact that the students of CHHS keep in mind when they take part in the program.

“The response has been outstanding,” Johnson said. “The kids who do the research papers and write the books learn a lot, but the ones who take part in the walk really get the complete experience. They’re always proud of what they do and I’m always surprised and how much they reflect on the things they learn.”

The programs are funded by Troy City Schools through a grant that has been awarded for the last five years. Local businesses from the area provide donations, volunteers and supplies to help.