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Students books head to war-torn Uganda

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POSTED: June 7, 2007 5:02 a.m.
Students at Frank Long Elementary School are hoping to use the magic of storytelling to spread joy to the children of Uganda.
On Friday, 11 books written and illustrated by fifth-graders in Deborah Starkey and Tracey Moyse’s classes and first-graders in Patricia Moody’s class were shipped to the African nation as part of the Memory Project’s “Books of Hope” program.
BOH allows students “to create books to send to children living in very difficult situations abroad,” including Uganda.
According to reports by the British Broadcasting Corporation, since Yoweri Museveni became president in 1986, clashes between the Ugandan People’s Defense Force and the Lord’s Resistance Army have displaced more than 1.6 million Ugandans and killed tens of thousands. The United Nations estimates 20,000 children have been kidnapped by the LRA to be child soldiers and slaves.
Starkey’s student Haleigh Hawkins said the pictures she saw of children hurt by the fighting affected her.
“I saw they were going through very hard times because some of them were missing arms, eyes and different body parts and you could tell that they had just been through a lot,” she said.
“And we also heard that they only had about three books in a whole library,” classmate Brandon Collum interjected, noting the lack of resources available to students in the country.
Hawkins said she was excited that her folktale, which focuses on always “being yourself,” could put smiles on the faces of children who have seen tragedy most of their lives.
“Looking at them in those pictures and seeing how depressed they looked and then seeing how it’s like the sun comes out on their faces whenever they were holding a book... just knowing that what I did could help to bring the spirits of the people of Uganda up a little makes me happy,” she said.
Although students were responsible for most of the finished product, FLES art teacher Mike Lewis and computer lab teacher Wanda Smith assisted with some of the illustrations included in the books.
The books will first stop at the Memory Project’s office in Madison, Wis., and then be delivered in-person by staff members to children in Uganda to ensure that they receive them.
 

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