I still can’t believe that I’m going to Uganda. This video makes my anticipation for the trip soar!

Just seeing that borehole deliver fresh, clear water is overpowering. Watching those girls work the pump and watching the water flow is breathtaking.  Their laughter sparkles just like the water splashing in the sunlight.  The joy they share and the thanks they give are so incredibly inspiring.  I want to gather them all in a hug.  I want them to show me how to use the pump.  How difficult is it?  Can I fill a bucket as easily as they can?

When these things come together, it makes me so proud of my students.  Sixth graders; eleven to twelve years old!  I have a hard time accepting the kind words that are said about the good that I’ve done.  I don’t feel that it’s just my doing.  Almost every fundraiser has been because my students pursue it.  They push me to support them.  But someone reminded me today that I am changing lives across the world.  I have fostered that sense of empathy and guided them to do for others. If it wasn’t for me, it never would have happened in the first place. I have made a difference that goes far beyond my classroom walls.

Little do they know, that they’ve also changed my life.  When I’ve been ready to quit, sixth graders wouldn’t let me. When I was just trying to teach a simple geography lesson, sixth graders pushed me to take it beyond our classroom. And when I’ve been upset about things in my life, the children in Uganda remind me that there is always hope and that something better will be provided.

In class on Fridays we typically watch a “This Day in History” video and they draw pictures about the topics.  Today I showed this video.  When they realized that this is what I’ve been talking about for the last two months, the looks on their faces showed that they now understand how thankful the Ugandan children really are.  Through my tears, I gave them a simple explanation of, “This is why…” I let them know that they should never let anyone tell them that they aren’t capable of something because this proves that you can make things happen.

I saw pride within my classes today.  They weren’t actually part of this task, but they can share in the fact that they are helping this year, and they now attend the school that puts forth the effort to make people’s lives better. One of my students drew a glass of water with a heart around it. It makes me so happy that she has such a heartfelt connection to all of this.

As I shared the news, video, and photographs with the students who took charge of the fundraiser, I was met with excitement, awe, tears of joy, and silence (which is unusual for a twelve year old!).  As Emily (the initiator) watched the video, her friend said to me, “Oh you’re the teacher that made this happen!”  My response was, “No, she made it happen,” and I pointed to Emily.  She shyly said, “Yeah, I kinda did.”

You know what? I kind of did, too.

That simple answer just confirms why THIS matters.  It’s changing lives here and on the other side of the world.