Spreading The Simple Good Across The Ocean | Building Hope Project Uganda 2018

The students of Gulu Primary School In Uganda admire their completed community Mural.

For the third year in a row now The Simple Good and Heart of A Thousand Hills has come together for our 3rd Annual Building Hope Project. This year we partnered with YOLRED in Gulu, Uganda to bring therapeutic visual arts programming to children of formerly abducted child soldiers in the region. Thanks to the support of our donors, last December we worked with children of Gulu Primary to implement TSG’s Social Emotional Learning based art program in effort and created a mural on the Uganda & South Sudan Border.

The Students of Gulu Primary School teach, Founder and Executive Director Priya Shah, and Associate Board Member, Reeba Jacob Acholi traditional dance as they rehearse for the year end ceremony for the Gulu community.

The Creative Art Therapy for Community Healing Ceremony, is an annual tradition for formerly abducted child soldiers in Uganda organized by YOLRED (Youth Leaders for Restoration and Development). It’s a showcase of positive ideals through artistic expression to not perpetuate the wrongs of the past and set examples for the future. It also allows the community to express and process the trauma they experienced. It was an honor to be apart of this healing process as well as have our Gulu students display their artwork and speak about their ‘simple good’ to their larger community. It was amazing to see how the students really took ownership of the program and took pride in becoming a Simple Good Ambassador. We were also thrilled to learn that the Mayor of Gulu made public remarks on how he was so impressed by our students’ ability to express their simple good and by doing so, he felt this is what will instill hope for the community.

Our Gulu students showed us what it meant to be a TSG Youth Ambassador. It means spreading the good. Sharing your hope, culture, and kindness to people everywhere you go. It means finding a commonality in the goodness of both of your hearts, connecting cultures, consciousness and love across the globe. We graciously take their messages back with us to our students!

YOLRED (Youth Leaders for Restoration and Development) Program Director and GATHER Fellow, Geoffrey Omony talks about his community and how the Simple Good benefits the abducted child soldiers and those born in captivity.

Geoffrey Omony is the program director for YOLRED which is completely comprised out of former abducted child soldiers. He and The Simple Good both believe that the healing and progression of the community begins with empowering the youth. Because they are both products of their environments they have the best understanding of their needs to help impact their future. To learn more about YOLRED view this article from Everybody All At Once!

Gulu Primary School Students finish their section of the Mural Entitled Forgiveness

We develop new understandings of humanity when teaching our curriculum around the world. In this case, Gulu, Uganda was strongly affected by the aftermath of the war against Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Now in a time of peace, the community has looked for more artistic ways to empower their community and youth. In addition to their existing ceremonies of music, dance, and theatre, The Simple Good was affective in teaching the students self advocacy and efficacy through the visual arts for the first time. We always measure the growth of our students in Social Emotional Learning development from the beginning to end of our curriculum. We showed a massive 23% increase in students believing they are now knowledgeable of resources they can use to make things better in their community. 60% of students became knowledgeable about communities outside their own. We also saw a 14.6% increase among students who now believe they are more equipped to talk about themselves in front of others.

“Peace can change my environment. Unity can change my
environment.”

Social Emotional Learning is a huge focus in Western educational institutions, and we’re thankful for the opportunity to bring it to a new community and to see it work so powerfully. We would love to continue this journey with our Gulu youth in 2019 and to other international communities with your support. You can support the Building Hope Project by donating to The Simple Good, purchasing some of our Simple Good Attire or attending our upcoming fundraiser, the Hunt for Good on June 8th!