Inspired by Corner of Hope and a commitment to support children affected by many years of war in her home country Uganda, Marcellina Otii initiated the establishment of Mother Earth Montessori in Gulu, northern Uganda. Four trainees started their Montessori training at St Ann’s in Kenya in May 2019, which came to a pause in March 2020 when the college closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The journey that followed was one full of hurdles which shows a great amount of commitment, perseverance, and creativity. 

By Marcellina Otii

TeacherTrainees“Compared to the perseverance needed to complete the Montessori teacher training in Nakuru, Kenya, the legal establishment of Mother Earth Montessori (MEM) as a Community Based Organization for vulnerable children in Gulu was a piece of cake.

In early 2019, MEM’s Board of Directors selected four trainees and sponsored them to conduct their Montessori training at St. Ann’s Montessori College in Nakuru, Kenya. The expectation was for them to graduate in 2020.  However, the COVID-19 pandemic threw in all kinds of twists and turns.

The first hurdle was when the borders closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This left MEM’s teacher trainees stranded in Nakuru from March to August 2020. It took the coordination of AMI, Montessori for Kenya and St. Ann’s to get the trainees out of Nakuru. MEM hurriedly gained special entry clearances to allow the stranded Ugandans to return home under strict travel conditions, including 14 days of mandatory quarantine upon entry.

2021 brought new hope for the completion of teacher training, but the government of Uganda declared the indefinite closures of all preschools and kindergartens, so our trainees had nowhere to do the required 10 months practicum. Another challenge was the preparation for the final examinations in April. MEM’s leadership selected a location at the University of Sacred Heart Gulu where the trainees proved that they knew how to set up a complete primary classroom. They practiced with the Montessori materials they had made during their training in Nakuru.Teacher trainee with child

The day the trainees boarded a Nakuru bound bus to do their examinations, the infection rates became so high in Nakuru and Nairobi that entry into those big cities was barred. The trainees turned around and made a disappointing bus trip back home. A week later, St. Ann’s principal allowed the trainees to do their final written examinations in Gulu, at the same time as the Kenyan trainees.

Now there is light at the end of the tunnel because Montessori Global Growth Fund empowered our four teacher trainees to return to Kenya’s Corner of Hope School to embark on a delayed practicum for four months. All four teacher trainees are now doing their practicum at Corner of Hope and they are making good progress. Their graduation is scheduled to take place in November 2021.”