Longmont elementary students at Eagle Crest join Niwot Elementary in helping Ugandan children

Eagle Crest art teacher Mandy Adams got the fourth-grade class settled in on Monday morning, then started quizzing them about their sister school in Uganda.

"Can anyone pronounce the village where our sister school is?" she asked as the 9- and 10-year-olds started trying to say Nkugulutale.

Adams pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket and sounded out the five-syllable word for the students.

"Na-goo-goo-la-tale," she said before the students started to glaze clay homes they made as miniature copies of the clay brick homes in Nkugulutale, Uganda.

Eagle Crest Elementary has been matched with Mwebaza Annex school in Nkugulutale. The annex was built to help with overcrowding at Niwot Elementary School's sister school, Mwebaza School.

Mwebaza Annex is set to open in February and serve between 50 and 100 students from Nkugulutale.

Students at Eagle Crest are learning all about Nkugulutale and the country of Uganda as a whole. Adams is leading the students in all grades to create about 800 pieces of art that will hang in the hallways during parent-teacher conferences Feb. 12 through 14.

Parents can then donate an amount they choose for their child's artwork, with the money going to Mwebaza Annex.

Mwebaza Annex already has composting toilets and a kitchen for a wood-burning stove constructed, but many of the students who will attend the school are poor and can't afford the meager school fees.

The funds raised by the art sale will go toward computer equipment and scholarships for between eight and 15 students to attend school. Additionally, Eagle Crest staff hope to establish a lunch program with a chicken coop for eggs and a vegetable garden.

Electricity is scarce in Nkugulutale, an urban slum 14 miles away from the capital city of Kampala. Eagle Crest staff received a grant that means they can get solar power installed at Mwebaza Annex in 2018.

"Illnesses such as malaria, measles, and typhoid can be found among the local student population," Adams wrote. "At nearby Mwebaza School, approximately one quarter of students have at least one parent who has died, presumably from AIDS. We can assume that the population of Nkugulutale will have similar issues."

Students at Eagle Crest are learning about Nkugulutale through art and other classes. The fifth-graders worked on making prints of Ugandan animals by rolling ink onto carved foam. The kindergarteners made T-shirts with Ugandan animals, fourth-graders made clay Ugandan houses and first-graders made fabric tiles and watercolor paintings.

Some students created Uganda-inspired batik prints with human figures. Batik is a technique where an artist applies wax to fabric, then dips the fabric in dye. When the wax is removed, the part underneath is left undyed. The process is repeated to create an image.

Fourth-grader Kyrlee Pancheri, 10, said that she has enjoyed the Uganda project because it has been fun to help other kids in another country.

"It has been amazing and really cool to help people in a poor place and helping people in Uganda and Africa because it is one of my dreams when I am older to help people in Africa, but now I'm doing it when I'm young," she said.

Pancheri added that she thought at first that Nkugulutale was pretty much like Longmont, but learning about Uganda has opened her eyes to the problems the villagers face. Fourth-grader Kameron Kelton, 9, chimed in to say that he had a similar experience.

"I was like, 'I think this is a pretty cool place,' and I thought it was nice at first, but then you look at the pictures and you look at the houses and that there's no stores and you think, 'Aww that is sad,'" Kelton said.