Students used a computer software program to lay out the books. Page lamination and book binding were done at the school.
Doug Dunlop, St. Charles principal last school year who is no longer in that position, said service learning has long been a cornerstone of St. Charles’ curriculum, and Books of Hope was an opportunity to ramp up those efforts.
“There are so many pluses here,” Dunlop said. “(The students) see how well they have it. It’s humbled our kids. This goes beyond the food drives, and makes it more concrete.”
Before students started assembling the books, they learned about Uganda and the issues people deal with in that country.
Through the Books of Hope organization, St. Charles was partnered with Onono Memorial College, a Ugandan high school, and the Bobi Primary School for younger children. Students at both schools had been displaced when a previous building was abandoned, looted and burned during a recent war. Efforts are under way to relocate to a new building.
Learning the hardships Ugandans face gave the St. Charles student body an opportunity to count their blessings, learn about another culture and give of themselves.
“Their school was so broken down,” fifth-grader Joshua Caputa said, recounting his thoughts when he first saw the images of the former building that housed Onono Memorial College and Bobi Primary School students. “I’m glad we have been able to help them out a little.”
Seventh-grader Maggie Berg said she felt called to action and wants to get more involved in other charitable efforts.
“This really makes me want to do more for other people,” she said.
While the knowledge and images are awe inspiring, eighth-grader Marisa Ulrich said it is difficult to fully understand the plight of Ugandans.
“We’re used to having so much here,” Marisa said. “You can’t really imagine what they are going through.”
A Books of Hope representative hand-delivered a book to students at Onono Memorial College and the Bobi Primary School in April. The book gave Ugandan students a bird’s eye view into St. Charles with pictures and facts about the school and its students.
The book shared information on how students get to and from school, what they learn in class, what is typically served at lunch and the climate in Wisconsin. It was capped by a prayer St. Charles students recited each morning before beginning classes.
St. Charles is one of 47 U.S. schools sponsoring Onono Memorial College and the Bobi Primary School.
In addition to writing, creating and sending the homemade books, St. Charles students also helped their Ugandan partner schools obtain much-needed supplies. Nearly $200 was collected during a fundraiser in March that revolved around a dress-down day. The money was used to purchase textbooks, chalk, reams of paper and assorted office supplies.