Uganda 2018 Day 8: The Bubonic Plague

I look like I’ve got the Bubonic plague! After pretty much leaving me alone for the opening week of the trip, the mosquitoes have come back with a vengeance and decided that feasting on my arms, legs and back isn’t enough entertainment, so they have decided to have a go at my face as well. One side of my face is slightly swollen with all the bites, I have a number of ulcers and the skin on the back of my neck looks like a rhino’s as I caught the sun during the Conservation Cup (I did wear sun screen). In short, I feel like Quasimodo!

The others were up early this morning as they were going on a game drive which started at 06.30. Mrs Green and I went to Tembo for breakfast and then headed out to Kafuro. We made a stop at Kichwamba to pick up Bea McIntosh who was staying at Yowasi’s house. Bea and Mrs Green were going to give out sanitary products and talk to the female pupils about sanitation.


I was also talking about sanitation with Stephen, the headteacher. As you can imagine, school toilets in Uganda are pretty grim. They are effectively holes in the ground covered by a concrete slab with a hole in it. Without trying to be too crude, if you aim and miss there’s an awful mess plus with the heat the smell is pretty awful. Stephen was telling me that the sub-county should empty the pits each year, but they don’t have the funds to do so. As a result, the pits for the girls latrines are nearly full and they have a major problem. There is a short term and a long term solution. The short term solution is to dig additional pits and build new toilet blocks. Because our children had raised so much money this year, I was able to buy Kafuro a year’s internet data and still give the school 200,000UGX (about £45) towards digging new pits. The long – term solution is to install eco-san toilets. These are toilets that have been installed at Mahyoro Primary School. Basically, they are toilets which separate human waste and, when you add ash, allow you to make fertiliser. It may sound crude but it is extremely effective. I obviously need to ask the pupils at Liss, but this is another thing that could make a real difference to our friends in Kafuro, and I hope our pupils will agree to fundraise towards it. Added to that, Stephen is a really nice person who is extremely child-centred and genuinely wants the best for the pupils in his care. I can’t say that I’ve always found that to be the case with all the Ugandan headteachers I’ve met.

On our last day at Kafuro, I always hand out letters from Liss children and today was no exception. Firstly, I had to make sure that the Kafuro weather station was working properly. The new display console was easy to set up and it was no problem to get it talking to all the sensors…..except one. For some reason, the anemometer did not want to communicate and nothing I tried seemed to work. I got out the manual and did everything it said, but there was still no success.

After 90 minutes of frustration I gave up and told Yowasi that I would have to take it home with me that evening. I then got on with the business of taking class photos and ensuring that letters were handed out to the right classes. Meanwhile, Mrs Green had been baking bread rolls with P7. We decided to show the class how to make a fried egg sandwich (omelette is very popular in Uganda but I’ve never seen a fried egg). Frying the egg in the cob oven took about 30 seconds and we have it in one of the rolls to Stephen. He declared it delicious, so we fried the two remaining eggs we had and Stephen chose some hungry children to feed.

Next, we did some preparation for making pizzas. Mrs Green had already made the dough so I worked with some boys to cook the tomato sauce. I got them to chop up some tomatoes, garlic and onions which we cooked down to make a fantastic tomato sauce. I added some oregano which I had brought out from the UK and Mrs Green showed the children how to stretch the dough, add the sauce and mozzarella (we had picked this up in Kasese). The first pizza went into the cob oven and within minutes a fully cooked, bubbling pizza emerged. It looked amazing!

Mrs Green and I went to lunch and said we would return in 30 minutes to help the children make the rest of the pizzas. However, when we came back the children had taken it upon themselves to make the rest of the pizzas and they looked perfect. It was just another sign of what quick learners Ugandan children are. We took the pizzas to P7’s classroom where they were going to watch today’s film – The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Again, the whole school decided to turn up and watch the film. It was interesting watching their reaction to the film. The children thought that the beavers were hilarious and it was clear that they did not like the White Witch. Their reaction to Aslam was most interesting however. There were gasps of awe when he started speaking, they were really upset when he died and there was a massive cheer when he finally defeated the White Witch. Clearly, the film had quite an impact.

We left the school for the final time with the good wishes of the children and Stephen ringing in our ears. We dropped Bea home and then headed back to Tembo to meet the others who’d had another excellent day at Katunguru Primary School. Nick and Ash had been amazed at the athleticism of the Katunguru pupils, particularly the girls, when playing cricket and had come to the conclusion that with access to proper training they would be awesome athletes. Lisa, Katie & Katie had really enjoyed teaching but were also mindful of the fact that the children did a lot of rote learning. It was therefore doubly important that the work they were carrying out challenged the children’s thinking skills and deepened their learning. From the sound of it, they had done just that.

Tomorrow, the others are off to Rihamu Junior School as well as trekking in the Rwenzoris while Mrs Green and I will be visiting New Life Junior School and Katunguru.

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