At a recent parent’s meeting at one of our Ugandan partner schools, Grace, the Head Teacher, let me know in uncertain terms how she felt about one of the parents in attendance, “There is the most troublesome woman in this school! She shouts and criticizes us. She is always angry and I don’t like her.”
As the woman approached and greeted us, Grace tensed up. Grace said to her, “Go sit there and wait,” without giving her proper direction. When the women was gone, I asked Grace how she was feeling.
Grace: “We work for people who do not appreciate us. They do not know the value of education.”
Hussein: “Grace, do you need appreciation for what you do? And do you need understanding and respect?”
While parents were waiting for the meeting to start, I connected with the “troublesome” woman.
Hussein: “How are things going in the school?”
Parent: “The biggest problem is that woman, Grace. We take our time to come here but she simply doesn’t listen to us. Because we are not educated like her, she thinks we are stupid.”
Hussein: “Oh, sorry. Do you need understanding and respect?”
When it was time for me to speak at the parent’s meeting I said, “Every single person in this room needs respect, appreciation, and understanding. We need to practice honoring, listening and giving positive feedback that does not hurt ourselves and others. How would that be for us?” In a chorus, all the 65 parents said YES! I went on to share that the children in our homes also need the same treatment. The parents listened attentively.
The most “troublesome” woman has now become the number one ardent supporter of the school. She attends every meeting, she volunteers each parent work day and is always around to lend a hand. Beneficial relationships have been built through respectful connections. Helping to create the conditions for healthy relationships to grow is another example of the silent but beautiful work of One School at a Time.