Stories from Uganda

One of the things I was in charge of for the Uganda trip was painting some murals on the walls of a new school. African Hearts had opened an elementary school in February and we volunteered to add some color to their walls. It is very common for schools in Uganda to have teaching aids and pictures painting directly on the walls rather than to have a lot of posters and charts. I was given some example pictures from other area schools and asked to come prepared with some ideas and sketches. I brought my sketches and brushes with me but the paint was there waiting for us. Without having been to the school or seen it I had to be flexible with my designs. Actually, flexibility is the name of the game on ANY mission trip.

One mural I had planned was a large tree in which we would use the children’s hands to make the leaves of the tree. We set off to paint this in the preschool classroom. Immediately we ran into some problems with the paint…it was quite sticky and oil-based…not what I am used to working with here in the US. You would paint, and then paint again and it would take the original paint right off the wall. But, we worked with it and came up with this…

Also, because of the paint being oil-based we quickly learned that it was a nightmare to clean from the kids hands. So after just a few students adding their handprints we filled in the rest with our own hands…

We had green fingers for days! We also added some grass and butterflies to finish out the picture. This was definitely a group effort…I did most of the drawing on the wall and two of the girls did most of the painting of the tree. Then there were three of us that contributed to the butterflies. Here is Chance with his butterfly (he was quite proud)…

The next painting we did in this classroom was the school motto. I had a loose sketch of an idea using the school motto from Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”, a cross, and an open Bible. I drew the cross on the wall and then one of our high school girls, Stevi, took the idea and ran with it. She did the lettering, the Bible, and most of the painting.

In this close-up you can see some areas where the paint was chipping off the wall…this was one of the obstacles we encountered.

Here is how the murals look together at the front of the room…

In addition to these paintings we also did two educational paintings on the outside of the building. They are outside so they do not interfere with exams and so that the students can have access for studying. I had several sketches but as we were running out of time we decided on two–a diagram of the heart and a flower. We used their study materials to get our basic pictures to make sure we were in line with what they learn in their classroom. After I loosely sketched these out Kathryn did the painting on the flower and Kristin painted the heart.

Typically these type of paintings would have the parts labeled with vocabulary terms but we ran out of time and didn’t have anyone to verify that we had the correct labels. But, some of the teachers are planning to finish the labeling at a later date.

All in all, we had a great time doing these paintings. Even though we went not knowing exactly what to expect, we were able to complete 4 paintings for the school which was more than I had anticipated. There were some challenges but I am very proud of the work the girls did on their paintings. We have left our mark in Uganda! It is special to know that there are little children across the world who look at our creations everyday. I hope to be able to go again someday and maybe add more!


3 thoughts on “Stories from Uganda

  1. Nice paintings! But more than anything else, it’s so nice of you to reach out to the children of Uganda and make their classrooms beautiful. That, for me, is awesome.

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