The following letter was sent to Heartspring by Fredrick Sembatya on behalf of Montessori Integrated School in Kampala, Uganda.
Fredrick attended the Heartspring Teacher Exchange Program in November, 2010.
Thank you very much for the wonderful work that you are doing in helping children with different special education needs. Thank you for helping the needy teachers like me who handle and educate children with different special education needs. We really appreciate.
The training that I received from Heartspring is really helping me in my work with children with different special education needs especially those with autism. When I came back to Uganda I started to try to change the approach that we used to use in teaching and attending to children with special education needs. I started by reorganizing the environment of study for the students, use visual cues trying to bring the PECS in a simpler form by using photos of the common objects that the child uses in line with the real objects, and also organising a schedule for each child in whatever a child does. These first steps have helped the students and I have harmony in all the tasks. I try to explain to the teachers and parents the aim of the new approaches. I got problems of getting the Velcro here in Uganda. I had to travel to Kenya to get a few meters. I was talking of using a Velcro and people did not know why I was looking for it. But when I got some few meters from Kenya, that's when teachers and parents realized the use of the Velcro with pictures. When I am handling the students, many teachers come and observe what I do and how I do it. All looks strange to them. Since February this year parents are seeing a great change in their students and recommend other parents with children with special needs who are in other schools to bring them to me for help. At the moment I am limiting the numbers because I do not have enough technical team (SLT, OT and ABA therapist). I also lack the infrastructure.
I am organizing some other articles to put in the local dailies to inform the public about Autism and other Learning Disabilities. Every Monday from 4-5pm I am on air on one of the radio stations talking about different special needs. Many parents with children with special needs call me with different questions and worries about their children.
Thank you very much once again for all the help and training that I received from Heartspring. Parents also ask me for training. Really there is a lot that has to be done to change the image of the special education in Uganda. But some of us who are willing to help these children, shall continue with this calling.
I wish you a great day. Greetings to all the staff members. Please, you are welcome to Uganda so that you can see what I do with the children. That will give me the opportunity to be advised on what to do with the children on the ground.
Fredrick attended Heartspring's Teacher Exchange Program due to the overwhelming interest and requests for special education training from teachers and professionals from all over the world. In 2010, Heartspring opened the Teacher Exchange Program to provide trainings twice a year. This program was originally implemented to train Heartspring's sister schools in New Delhi, India and in Beijing, China, but interest was coming from all over the world and Heartspring wanted to help more people in more countries. Therefore, an application process was developed whereby teachers and other related professionals from anywhere in the world could apply.
In November 2010, the first two participants from this open-application opportunity were selected and attended trainings on the Heartspring campus for three weeks. Monica Wenz, Director of Centro El Aromo, from Chile and Fredrick Sembatya, Director of the Montessori Integrated School, from Uganda learned from Heartspring professionals in numerous areas, including visual supports, structured teaching, behavior supports, vocational training, evidenced-based practices and interventions, residential training, and more.