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  • Maureen Murphy

Volunteering from home through Nurture Africa's Virtual Volunteer Programme in 2021

With the onset of Covid-19 it was clear to Nurture Africa staff in Ireland and Uganda that the annual

overseas volunteer programme would not be taking place during the summer 2020. Since 2005, Irish

school teachers have travelled to Uganda to volunteer for 3 weeks in a partner school.

In order to maintain the connection, Nurture Africa established a series of peer-to-peer teaching

workshops throughout July and August 2020.

Nine Irish teaching volunteers were recruited and workshop confirmed. Irish volunteer teachers would

prepare and present workshops on Positive Reinforcement, Collaborative Learning and Classroom

Differentation.


Maureen Murphy from Tipperary shares her experience…

“I was supposed to travel to Uganda in July 2020. I thought that Covid-19 meant the end of my volunteering experience. However, Nurture Africa adapted in order to facilitate our volunteering virtually. Kevin the Project Co-ordinator contacted me to see if I would be interested in volunteering online through a series of Zoom workshops. I remember thinking the internet is touch and go in Tipperary; What would it be like in Uganda?! Nevertheless, I decided to sign up."


A total of sixteen Irish and Ugandan school teachers joined calls to share and discuss teaching methodologies and classroom management techniques


"After some preparatory calls with Nurture Africa staff and two primary teachers, Aislinn McFadden and Niamh Lynch who had both volunteered in Uganda with Nurture Africa previously, I decided to base my workshops on positive reinforcement. I was teamed with two other Irish teachers. Cliodhna, who I went to college with and Amanda who we didn’t know previous to this experience. We worked well as a team and developed a friendship whilst preparing our presentations based on the issues Ugandan teachers had presented to us. We quickly realised we needed to think outside the box. The Ugandan teachers couldn’t reward every child as we might do here. We decided to suggest creating a reward system using items available in the surrounding environment, such as a token system using stones and a jar. We also discussed the importance of ‘catching children being good’, rather than always looking out for misbehaviour.

We facilitated three interactive workshops. The first had some technical issues but once these were

ironed out everything ran smoothly. It was incredible to be in contact with teachers so far away. They

may have been strangers but Nurture Africa's staff and Ugandan teachers were very friendly. We were

always greeted by smiling and welcoming faces. I was told a few times “You are speaking too quickly

Miss Maureen”, so had to slow my speech, but quickly got the hang of it!

A common theme of how to praise a learner who is not achieving in academic areas was prevalent. We

asked "Is there anything else such a child is good at?" We discussed this until we came up with an

answer. One of the Ugandan teachers said ‘We must find the good in everyone, maybe someone is

kind, maybe someone is good at maths, maybe someone is brilliant at football we all have good in us’.

This was a fond memory of mine during the online teaching experience, I felt it was such a heart-

warming response."


"I hugely admire Ugandan teachers. The challenges they face are immense but they are very eager to

improve their methodologies. They welcomed every suggestion openly and positively. Upon completion

of our workshops, the teachers welcomed us to their schools in the future. This is an offer I will definitely

be taking them up on, I have as much to learn from them as they have from me. I would also sincerely

like to thank the Nurture Africa team for adapting and giving us the opportunity to interact with these

amazing teachers even though we were thousands of miles apart.


Maureen Murphy - Irish Primary School Teacher


If you would like to know more about our 2021 Virtual Volunteer Programme, please email click HERE or email kevin@nurtureafrica.ie

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