My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Fount of Mercy, New York, NY, USA
During the summer of 2010, I had the unique privilege of traveling to Uganda to volunteer in the town of Jinja with Fount of Mercy. I'm a high school teacher and coach, so it made sense for them to place me to work in various schools in the area. One thing I like about the organization is that they take stock of each volunteer's talents and abilities and then work out a plan that will best fit with these specific qualities, instead of having a rigid program that requires volunteers to somehow find a way in which to fit.
I absolutley LOVED my time working with Fount of Mercy. I was able to combine my skills as an English teacher and coach to teach physical education to students of all ages. Because PE has not traditionally been part of the school curriculum but has recently become a requirement, the idea was that I could help the Ugandan teachers figure out some methods of integrating PE into the school day. It was really fun to play with these students, all of whom were eager for some organized instruction in PE. We focused on stretching, breathing, development of specific skills, teamwork, and the connection of literacy to physical activity.
To watch these young people eagerly ask to use the soccer balls and jump ropes which I brought (for they had no equipment), and then to watch them play with them in ragged school uniforms and bare feet - left me wanting to do more - to leave them with more. I left them each day exhausted and filthy - and smiling, full of such joy.
Michelle, who heads up the education portion of Fount of Mercy, organized each day so that there was a time for all of the volunteer teachers to reflect upon that day's classes and share with the Ugandan teachers about effective and not-so-effective methods of instruction. This was very important, as the long-term value of our time there was only as effective as the ability of the Ugandan teachers decided it would be.
In my three weeks with Fount of Mercy in Uganda, I was able to work with three different groups of students - some in regular education, as well as students who were deaf and/or blind. There were different challenges with each group, but the heart of our work was ultimately the same with each - to love them and help their Ugandan workers learn teaching methods that would help them for much time to come in the future.
I appreciate the freedom that Fount of Mercy provided - not only in our specific volunteer work, but in our time outside that. They know how important it is to have time to rest and went to great lengths to protect this time for us, providing mandatory "days off" and offering to plan fun activities, if so desired.
It's exciting to have watched the growth of this organization, ever since they began over five years ago, and I look forward to watching their powerful work continue in the future.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
Fount Of Mercy knows that it is imperative that the members of the community in which they working "buy in" to what they doing AND partner in the work, so that eventually they can be self-sustaining. It does not matter if this is in the area of education, employment, or health care, as Fount of Mercy has partnered with Ugandan groups in each of these areas. It is particularly touching to have observed the way that they work to support widows, other women, and children.
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
I do wish that there had been more follow-up in the days that followed my return to the States, as I am eager to continue to support Fount of Mercy, whether I remain here or return to Uganda. It's easy to get caught up into "regular" life, and I would have loved more direct contact from the organization in the past months.