We’re sat in Fort Portal, nearing the end of our Ugandan adventure. This is an opportunity to pause for breath, drink a Nile and take stock of what has been a real life-changing experience.
There is obvious impact from the Changing Classrooms Project and we’re only half way through it. The Headteachers from Rihamu and Kafuro will visit Hambledon and Liss in March 2020. The learning has been mutual and we will take things from the experience that will benefit pupils at all schools. A detailed exchange of thoughts about managing school improvement has already taken place and I look forward to implementing some of the ideas that I take away from this trip.
I am excited by the potential to make an enormous difference to the lives of children in Uganda for the long term. It won’t be too tricky either. By western standards the money and resources required to make significant improvements to the schools here is relatively small. A little will go a long way. We have already started this with our projects to improve sanitation and the building classroom infrastructure. I hope we can continue this to ensure that pupils don’t waste valuable learning time performing tasks that take them out of the classroom, such as fetching water. When they’re in class, we can ensure that they can learn without being exposed to the elements. I am hoping that our School Council can rise to this challenge next year.
The purpose of this project is to benefit both English and Ugandan schools and there is much that Rihamu can contribute to Hambledon. As well as a window to different cultures and beliefs, our children continue to strengthen their ties with their pen-pals. We also have plans to create video links and exchange voice messages with our friends at Rihamu. We’re getting good at recording podcasts at Hambledon and these are a great way of promoting communication between our children.
As I think back on what I experienced I am glowing with admiration for what Shakilah and her team achieve with meagre resources. In Uganda it doesn’t matter what clothes you wear or what car you drive. Everyone is together and they look out for each other, nobody is judging. It is inspiring. School children concentrate well, listen carefully and show high levels of respect to each other and to the adults that teach them. Living standards are lower and the pace of life is slower, but levels of appreciation are high and I will take these precious memories back to the UK.