Kyle Aloof

Kyle is a master’s student at Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University where he focuses on conflict & development, international economic development, and international nongovernmental organizations. Prior to Bush, Kyle spent several months in Honduras during the Coronavirus pandemic teaching English to students and adults and building educational computer activities. Prior to his experience in Honduras, Kyle spent the summer of 2019 in Kroo Bay, Sierra Leone teaching English and math at the We Yone Child Foundation Primary School. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Editing, Writing, and Media from Florida State University and a minor in International Affairs. During his undergraduate, he served as President of the university Rotaract Club, Secretary of Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society, and Treasurer of the Caring & Helping in Community Service (C.H.I.C.S) Club. Kyle is an avid traveler and has visited a dozen countries in the last three years. Some of his favorites include Tunisia, Guatemala, Turkey, and Israel. One of his proudest accomplishments is being awarded a $25,000 grant from an essay writing competition and using the entirety of the funds to build a library/children’s center in Kroo Bay, Sierra Leone. Kyle is very much looking forward to working with GDPU in Uganda and learning more about the important work they do.



Dancing, Posho, Desserts, and Sign Language

06 Jun

My time here in Gulu with the Gulu Disabled Persons Union (GDPU) has thus far been nothing short of incredible. The staff, Emma, Mary, Brenda, Ruth, Walter, Patrick, Charles, and Faruk continue to welcome me with kindness and smiles on a daily basis, making work at GDPU seem more and more like a place I can see myself spending far more than ten weeks.

While I have experienced many new things, perhaps my favorite is spending time with the students in their classes. Here at GDPU, there are over 65 students between the ages of 16 – 30 (some boarding while others are day scholars) who are beneficiaries of a UK-based organization grant which enables them to spend six months at GDPU. During these six months, the students take a course in a particular field in the hopes of assisting them pursue a career. Some of these courses include knitting, tailoring, boda boda (motorcycle) repair, phone repair, hair styling, and handicrafts.

Due to the student’s disabilities and/or family’s financial status, all of them are no longer enrolled in school. Some have received very little to no schooling, with the opportunity to receive skills-based learning coming as a blessing to the students and their families. Not only does learning a new skill assist in establishing a career, but also allows the students to create friendships with other students with disabilities.

Over the course of my time here, I have spent much of my time in Brenda’s knitting class and Charles’ boda boda repair class. Brenda’s class is composed of about a dozen students, all girls and Francis, an incredibly talented blind knitter who has a great sense of humor and a love of Gospel music. Charles’ class on the other hand is all boys, also about a dozen, with a third of them being deaf and communicating through sign language.

Celebrating Emma’s Birthday at Aruu Falls

Dancing

During my second visit to Brenda’s class, I asked her students if they would like for me to play some music from my speaker. After an excited “YES!” we put on Apple Music’s Top 100: Uganda and danced, sang, and laughed. Since that day, it has become customary for me to bring my speaker to Brenda’s class and for the students to dance and enjoy, as well as watch the Mzungu attempt to dance.

Salamay (L), Linda (R), and myself mid-dancing

Posho

The first couple of weeks, I found myself eating at Elephante Commons, a DELICIOUS restaurant across the street from GDPU. However, this past week, I decided that I’d rather spend my time eating lunch with the students at GDPU. Every day the students are served posho (or rice) and beans. While I was not fond of the posho (corn flour porridge) at first, I have developed a liking towards it and getting to speak to the students outside during lunch.

Desserts

With the money I saved from not eating out for the week, I decided to go to Elephante Commons and buy some desserts for some of the students. I purchased a dozen brownies and a dozen lemon bars which were INCREDIBLE. I gave them to the students, all of which had never tried a brownie or a lemon bar before. They were a HIT to say the least.

Sign Language

During my first visit to Charles’ class, I was greeted by all of the boys. Upon arrival, the students introduced themselves to me either through speech or sign language, and after class, spent time teaching me sign language which was an incredible experience. While I still have a lot to learn, I have been practicing, allowing me to greet and communicate with all students at GDPU.

Posted By Kyle Aloof

Posted Jun 6th, 2022

3 Comments

  • Julia Holladay

    June 7, 2022

     

    Kyle, seems like you’re off to a great start. The exposure to the different class offerings at GDPU sounds like a really cool learning experience and I love that you shared some desserts with the students. Posho sounds a lot like Ugali here in Kenya—I can relate to the hesitancy but it does grow on you! Keep up the great energy!

  • Dawa Sherpa

    June 9, 2022

     

    This was so much fun to read my friend! You are surrounded by so many wonderful people and I can’t wait to hear all the stories of your interactions and the memories you create.

  • Iain Guest

    June 30, 2022

     

    Super fun blog, Kyle! You’re obviously really enjoying your time and lifting everyone’s spirits. Can’t wait to see how you’re going to channel your enthusiasm and communications skills into improving hygiene at a large primary school! Look forward to many more blogs!

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