Uganda 2018 Day 15: Zach Prior’s Sherbet Fruits and Some Final Thoughts

The day did not start well! I was woken up in the early hours of the morning by Mrs Green running to the bathroom to be violently sick. This happened on several other occasions during the night, and by the time I got up all the colour had drained from her face and she looked really unwell. She was in no condition to visit classrooms, therefore I went to see Robert and gave him our apologies.

 

We left Family of Hope and headed back to Kampala. Mrs Green had a meeting at Kyambogo University at 15.30 and before that we had to drop off some packages at UWA headquarters. We also had some shopping to do before meeting Ronnie from Range Land Safaris who was going to drop us off at the airport. Mrs Green fell asleep almost straight away and slept all the way back to Kampala other than a short stop in order that I could get my photo taken outside Nile Breweries. The traffic in Kampala was crazy and I decided to join in with the fun by tooting my horn like a maniac and driving into almost non – existent spaces in order to get where I wanted to go. Readers might think this is reckless behaviour, but I was only doing what everyone else was doing.

 

We made a brief stop at UWA HQ to drop off the packages – a camera for the warden of Mount Elgon National Park and some letters – before driving to Lugogo Mall. Mrs Green wasn’t interested in eating a great deal, but thought she could manage a cold drink and a bit of ice cream. Therefore, I bought the first Ugandan ice cream in my seven trips to the country. It was strawberry flavoured and was almost fluorescent pink in colour. Mrs Green ate some and then I finished the rest off. It tasted vaguely like strawberry but was absolutely loaded with sugar – I felt quite filthy for eating it.

 

Mrs Green perked up a little bit after the ice cream, so we drove out to Kyambogo University for a brief meeting with Dr Stackus from the Department of Special Needs Studies. Stackus was pleased to see us again, and he and Mrs Green were just talking about distance learning when Mrs Green felt ill again and had to dash out of the room. Stackus was really concerned that Mrs Green might have malaria, but I explained that we thought it was just a bug. When Mrs Green came back, we had a brief photo and then headed back to Lugogo Mall.

 

We had several hours to kill before we met Ronnie, so we found a café and ordered drinks. Mrs Green took a few sips of hers and promptly fell asleep, so I tried to catch up with some blogging. When she eventually woke up, we went into the supermarket and brought some gifts for family and friends back home.

 

We had arranged to meet Ronnie at Gorettis in Entebbe, our favourite restaurant. Howveer, the traffic in Kampala was mental even at 20.00 and what should’ve been a 50 minute journey ended up taking over an hour and a half. By the time we got there, Gorettis was closed so we met Ronnie at the Red Rooster another bar/restaurant that we were familiar with. Ronnie brought his wife along with him as well as Geoffrey who had made a full recovery after looking after the CM Sports group for over a week – only joking! They bought us drinks and I managed to get Mrs Green to eat a few chips before she went back to sleep while Ronnie, Geoffrey and I reviewed the trip.

 

When Mrs Green woke up she looked a lot better, so Geoffrey dropped us at the airport and the long journey home began. Our trip to Uganda for 2018 was over.

 

It’s now nearly a week later and I’ve had time to evaluate this trip. My thoughts are as follows:

  • For anyone who is concerned, Mrs Green has made a full recovery!
  • There was a massive amount of travelling on this trip. The flights from Heathrow to Entebbe are the best part of 8100 miles and a conservative estimate is that we racked up at least another 1000 miles in Uganda. Thanks therefore to Zach Prior (a pupil in my class last year) who gave me a M&S voucher, some of which I used to buy sherbet fruits. When I was feeling tired after all that driving, the sherbet fruits got me through.
  • It was a very tiring and at times frustrating trip. When you have saved for a year to go and essentially work in another country during your holidays, it is helpful if people are organised at your destination.
  • My highs each year tend to take place at Kafuro and this year was no exception. The new headteacher, Stephen, and P7 made me feel so good about our partnership.
  • It was fantastic to see other parts of Uganda. I feel that I’ve only scratched the surface of the country. Likewise, it was inspiring to see a school on the other side of the country which was so well run.
  • CM Sports had a big positive impact on the children in western Uganda. They should be very proud that they made such a difference.
  • It was great to have Rihamu Junior come on board and I think they will contribute strongly to the shared learning between schools.
  • The nature of this trip meant that I was pulled in several directions all at the same time. Although I’m useless at sitting still and doing nothing, I do need to accept that I can’t do everything all at once and I need relaxation time too.
  • Finally, many thanks to everyone who has read this year’s blog and commented on it. Your feedback is much appreciated.
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Uganda 2018 Day 14: Buwenge Bound

My alarm went off at 05.20 and by 06.00 Mrs Green and I were driving off Mweya for the last time on this trip having said a sad ‘Goodbye’ to Stu, who had got up early to see us off. At first I was unsure whether we would be allowed off the peninsula that early as there is plenty of work going on at night along the two roads into Mweya. Water pipes are being laid along one while lots of shrub has been cut back along the other as part of a program to get rid of invasive plant species. However, the ranger on gate duty let us out after a couple of questions and we were on our way.

 

We drove directly to Fort Portal where we filled the car with fuel and had some breakfast. After that, it was negotiating six miles of rubbish roads before we reached some re-laid tarmac and I was able to really put my foot down. We started making really good progress towards Mudebende – our next waypoint. Unfortunately, I was about to encounter the first Ugandan speed gun carried by a traffic cop that I had ever seen. I was duly clocked at 100km/h in a 70km/h zone although there were no signs to indicate this. Unlike the policeman that I had encountered two days ago, this guy was lovely. He showed me the reading on the speed gun and I expressed my surprise that my car (which was not the most powerful) was capable of reaching such a speed. After much laughter – sarcastic from the policeman, nervous from me – he decided to let me off with a warning. I must have encountered the only straight traffic policeman in Uganda!

 

We had a five-minute stop at Mudebende to get some drinks, then we continued our rapid progress towards Kampala. As we reached the outlying towns and villages, the traffic began to get busier and it increased still further when we reached the northern bypass. Progress was slow at first, but we sped up as we moved away from the centre of the city. We were now moving into unknown territory for me as I’d not travelled to the eastern side of Kampala. A pleasant surprise was getting up close to the Nelson Mandela Stadium where the Ugandan international football team play their fixtures.

 

We joined the Jinja Road and headed further east. On first viewing I would say that this part of the country was more affluent than the west of Uganda where we are based. The roads were in better condition, the towns seemed cleaner and there appeared to be more regulation of the hawkers who try and sell you anything when you stop your car in traffic. In several towns they appeared to be licensed to sell as they wore long jackets which were numbered.

 

We didn’t see much of Jinja as we were in a hurry to get to Buwenge and there was a great deal of roadworks going on. We saw the Nile brewery in the distance and crossed the River Nile itself before we headed on to the Kamuli Road. Buwenge was now 30 minutes away.

 

The reason for visiting Buwenge was all to do with Mrs Green’s work with the University of Chichester, researching Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in Uganda. Through QEPP she was put in touch with Mandy Slater and Kerry Mcleish who were responsible for setting up the Family of Hope School in Buwenge. The school caters for children that cannot access the education system due to their complex learning needs. Mrs Green was very keen to visit the school and to interview Robert, the executive director of the school. Mandy and Kerry had kindly extended an invitation to visit the school and to stay overnight at the house they use when staying in Uganda.

 

We met Robert at a petrol station by the main road and followed him to where the school was located. As soon as we arrived, we were mobbed by the children who were ever so keen to touch us, hold our hands and make sure that our luggage was taken to the house. It was very humbling to be in the presence of children who have so little but are so giving. From there, Robert took us on a tour of the school. Mrs Green was snapping away as there was building work going on and she had promised to send photos to Mandy and Kerry. The school is lovely with swings and slides for the children to play on – they also open up this to the community so that the children get to interact with children who have mainstream education. We saw their football pitch which had been levelled out due to funding from the Arsenal Foundation, and this is also open to the community to use. Robert is very keen to develop the children’s skills in order that they are able to make a real contribution to society when they leave the school, so they are working very hard on the school garden at the moment to teach children how to grow and harvest crops.

 

After that Mrs Green sat down to interview Robert who is a very gentle and impressive man. I talked with his son, Fred, who is also a teacher and a football fanatic – like many Ugandans he is a massive Man Utd fan. When I told him that I had been to Old Trafford on a number of occasions he was absolutely gripped. He told me of his frustrations about Ugandan sport for children – talent spotters tend to be based in the big towns so children in the rural villages get very few opportunities to compete against one another or show what they can do. When I told him about the Conservation Cup he was very impressed and wished that there could be a similar tournament in Buwenge.

 

When the meetings had finished, Robert and Fred left us. I began to talk to Mrs Green, but was so tired that I kept falling asleep and then waking up and talking nonsense – some people would say that there’s no change there from when I’m fully awake! Totally knackered, I went to bed. Tomorrow is our last day in Uganda.

 

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Uganda 2018 Day 13: New Blood

Today was our last full day on Mweya and we had arranged for the Ugandan teachers to have a cluster meeting. Stu was off to Rwenzori National Park for meetings all day while the others were going to help me with blogging training.

 

The day did not get off to a good start. I already knew that Ramathan could not attend as he had a sick relative in Kampala and he had to go there as he was a possible match as a kidney donor. Then I got a message from Yowasi telling me that he wasn’t coming. Eventually, a car turned up bringing Shakilah, the headteacher from Rihamu Junior and her School Director; Julius, the co-ordinator at Mahyoro; and Moses, the co-ordinator at Kyambura. It was a small focused group that worked on blogging throughout the morning, and by the end of the session each of the schools had created their own blog post and added photos. I was particularly impressed with how quickly Shakilah and her School director picked up the skills – I think they will be a valuable addition to QEPP.

 

West Meon had kindly donated four laptops and we had been able to recondition three of them, so each school was given a laptop to aid communication. I then received a phone call to tell me that James, the teacher from Nyakatonzi, had reached Mweya on a boda boda after missing the car that brought the others. As the meeting had just about finished, we arranged to meet him at Tembo. We had a final laptop that we were able to give James, but this would be delayed a day as we had to reset the password.

 

The meeting finished and the teachers waited at Tembo for their driver to turn up. While we were sitting at a table, a poisonous green snake dropped onto the table from the tree above. I was the last to notice it – by this time everyone else had jumped a mile in the air. When the snake decided to move, it did so at great speed – it was fascinating to watch. The teachers were eventually picked up and the rest of us sat at Tembo chatting and playing Uno. We walked back to Hippo House and then Mrs Green and I had to pack our belongings – our time on Mweya was already at an end.

 

Stu had arrived back after a good day at Rwenzori National Park and we went down to Tembo for the last time together. It is always sad to say goodbye to all of our friends and this year was no exception. Tomorrow, we have a ten and a half hour drive to Buwenge, half an hour north of Jinja to the east of Kampala.

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Uganda 2018 Day 12: Hot springs

It was another early start. We were up at 05.20 ready to leave at 06.00 for Semuliki National Park. The park is located about 75 minutes north east of Fort Portal, so we were expecting a drive of over 4 hours to get there. Stu and his family were going to accompany us as was Jackie. Jackie’s old boss at Tembo Canteen, Patrick, is now the warden in charge at Semuliki and she hadn’t seen him for a year. Because there were 7 of us travelling, we were using Stu’s vehicle, a Toyota Hiace, and his driver, a very nice man named Habib.

 

The first part of the drive was pretty boring to be honest other than the fact that we saw a hyena by the side of the road, our second sighting of this trip. I tried to catch up on some blogging, but kept drifting into sleep. We stopped at Fort Portal to pick up a bit of food and drink before taking the turning towards Semuliki. This was now territory that I hadn’t been into before, so I started to take far more notice of the environment around me. At first nothing changed, but then suddenly we found ourselves at the top of a valley with some incredible views. We stopped to take some photos and then drove down to Semuliki – this would take about another 45 minutes. It was all downhill on a very windy road. We had one taste of the unpleasant side of Uganda when we were stopped by a traffic cop. The traffic police are notorious in Uganda for fining people indiscriminately or taking bribes. This policeman pointed out to Habib that he didn’t have any rear reflectors. When Stu and I appeared, he told us to go away saying it was none of our business. I then pointed out that the reflectors could be clearly seen on the rear of the van and drew his attention to them. He replied to Habib that they were in the wrong place, but we were told that we were free to go!

 

The rest of the journey was uneventful and we reached Semuliki with the sun coming out and the temperature soaring. Patrick was very pleased to see us and organised a walk for us to the hot springs while ensuring that there would be lunch ready for us when we got back. Patrick looked as if had lost twenty years since I had last seen him – he appeared fit and well. He told me that working at Tembo involved eighteen hour days all the time, so Semuliki was nowhere near as challenging in terms of his time although there were always issues to deal with.

 

We took a walk to the hot springs that are located in the park – there is a male spring and a female spring. Apparently, local tribes carry(ied) out rituals at the springs, and cooking was only allowed at the female spring. Needless to say it was very hot and there was a whiff of sulphur in the air. At this point, I’m not going to say any more about the springs because I carried out an experiment which I am going to share with Year 6 in January. Once this has been completed, I will share the film on the blog.

 

One of the things both Stu and I noticed was that the surroundings could have come straight out of a Vietnam war movie. We half expected an apache to come flying over the horizon and strafe us with bullets. We returned from the walk and ate a nice meal of goat stew, rice and vegetables that Patrick had organised for us. After that it was full speed ahead to return to Mweya in time for Jackie’s birthday party.

We made it back to Mweya by 19.45 and had an hour to freshen up for the bash at Tembo. When we got there, it had been decorated and tables set out for the party. Embarrassingly, we all had to sit at the top table with Jackie who looked resplendent in a red gown that could double up as a prom dress. The food was ace – barbecued goat and chicken with a selection of vegetables including IRISH potatoes. Next, there were a series of speeches as befits an event in Uganda. I had to make a speech, but Stu had warned me in advance that this was happening so I was reasonably well prepared. I actually thought that I gave a very good speech and I got a big round of applause, but the MC – one of the Tembo staff called Oratio (who was hilarious all night) got a big laugh when he said he hadn’t the faintest idea what I was going on about.

 

After Jackie had made her speech, the dancing started and we all joined in – there’s really no choice in Uganda. Even Stu took part, which is a first as every time that I’ve been with him in Uganda, he’s always conveniently disappeared once the dancing began. The dancing was still going when we left at 01.45 and apparently continued until after 03.00

 

Tomorrow is a cluster meeting for the Ugandan teachers at Hippo House.

 

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A big hello from Rihamu Junior School

Hello everyone here!
Rihamu Junior School would like to share with you some of the wonderful pictures of the animals in the Queen Elizabeth National Park and the Rwenzori Mountain with its snow – Come to think of snow in the tropics here the Equator – What a sharp contract of nature!!
By Shakilah Huda
Head Teacher – Rihamu Junior School

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Uganda 2018 Day 11: Never empty, never full

We were up early this morning to say ‘goodbye’ to the CM Sports group. They were due to leave at 08.00 for the long drive back to Entebbe, so we all went down to Tembo for breakfast together – Stu joined us as well. It was sad saying farewell to them all as they’ve worked incredibly hard and achieved a great deal in a short space of time. Everywhere they have been they have made a positive impression. Inevitably, coming to Uganda makes you access what is important in your life and I get the very strong impression that the trip has affected them all to some degree. I know from speaking to Nick and Ash that they were not ready to go home and I would not be in the least surprised to see them back in Uganda at some stage in the future.

 

The rest of the morning was spent organising Hippo House to be ready for the McIntoshs to move in. I managed to track down Robinah, the cleaner, and arrange for bedding to be changed in rooms while Mrs Green got on with some washing. When Stu and his family moved in, we went to see Jackie. Jackie – as many readers of the blog will know – has been our friend for years and used to work at Tembo. We were organising a bash for her birthday and we needed to set a budget.

 

At 12.30 Mrs Green and I headed off to Kigoma near Ishaka which is where Stephen Biru lived. It took us the best part of a couple of hours to get there, but it was worth it. When Stephen is not managing education in the Rubirizi District he is a farmer and has a particular affinity for cows. He told us on a previous visit that he had a variety of Friesian cows which came from Yorkshire originally. Mrs Green likes to play on her distant Yorkshire heritage, so they have bonded over this. Stephen’s house is at the top of a small hill and he owns acres of land all around it. We saw pigs, chickens, cows (of course), pumpkins, chillis, avocados, bananas and many more types of produce as he showed us around his farm.

 

Next, we sat down for lunch. We were joined by five of Stephen’s children including Stedia who I had met before and had come back from university in Kampala for the weekend. Wine in this part of Uganda is fairly rare, but Stephen had got out a bottle of South African red which he had been holding on to for the previous four years. We felt incredibly humbled and privileged. Apparently the toast in Uganda is ‘Never full, never empty’, so we got used to saying that over the course of the afternoon.

 

Lunch – put quite simply – was massive. We started off with a big fruit salad and then a big bowl of really nice vegetable soup. Next came the biggest tilapia that both of us had ever seen. We just about managed to eat this and to nibble at a few IRISH potatoes before even more food arrived: beef then chicken, then salad, then fried bananas and, last of all, some traditional smoked tilapia that Stephen wanted us to taste. I managed to eat some of just about everything, but I was so full that I could burst. Stephen’s four sons didn’t seem to have the same problem as us – they were devouring everything that was put in front of them.

 

With lunch finished, we sat down outside the house in Stephen’s garden where we were introduced to Stephen’s wife. We sat out for a while and chatted while more wine was brought out and, finally, some Ugandan tea made with milk from Stephen’s cows. Ugandan tea is basically warm milk with tealeaves added. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a hot drink person at all, so I just took a polite sip while Mrs Green drank a little bit more.

 

We were due to meet Stu and his family that evening so we had to make our apologies and leave. Stephen and his family had treated us like royalty; it was just another example of the incredible hospitality you receive in Uganda. We said fond farewells and headed back to Katunguru where Stu and his family had been spending the day with Ramathan – the deputy head from Katunguru. We made a brief stop at Ramathan’s house before heading back to Mweya. Unsurprisingly, we didn’t eat at Tembo because we were still stuffed from lunchtime.

 

Tomorrow we are off to Semuliki National Park to visit the hot springs there – something I’m very excited about.

 

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Uganda 2018 Day 10: BBC Africa

Larry the leopard writes……

Unbelievable! Just unbelievable! Today, Mr Stanley managed to plunge new depths of idiocy. Let me tell you how things unfolded.

 

The day started badly. Jasmine and I have been locked away in Mrs Green’s rucksack since Wednesday – I blame Mr Stanley for this as Mrs Green would never do something like that deliberately. However, Mr Stanley fails to recognise that leopards and rabbits have excellent hearing and know what he’s getting up to. He muttered something about CM Sports having the day off and then he and Mrs Green went off to get some breakfast. They didn’t offer us any – rude!

 

Mrs Green and Mr Stanley drove down to Katunguru where Mrs Green was interviewing somebody for her research. Mr Stanley didn’t do anything as far as I could see. He said something about catching up with blogging as he was already behind. My views on this are quiet clear: if he spent more time writing, and less time drinking beer and offending the locals with his pathetic attempts at their language, then he would be up to speed.

 

Anyway, the humans had soon finished at Katunguru and then drove up to New Life where exactly the same thing happened. Mrs Green worked hard and Mr Stanley tapped a few keys on a keyboard.

Next, they got in the car and went to see the District Education Officer, a man called Stephen Biru. The meeting didn’t last very long and (fortunately) Mr Stanley didn’t speak very much at all. It was Mrs Green and Stephen Biru talking about universities. At this point, Mr Stanley hadn’t managed to get himself into trouble, but this was about to change! All the humans got into the car and drove down the road to a sportsground where there was a big tournament going on – it turns out it was the Rubirizi Primary School Championships. Mrs Green and Mr Stanley got out of the car with Stephen Biru and started wandering down the touchline. Suddenly, Robert, the sports officer who Mr Stanley and Mrs Green had met at the first day of the Conservation Cup, appeared and beckoned them all to the VIP area under a gazebo. There were commentators who announced that the district education officer and his muzungu friends had arrived. Mr Stanley looked very smug while Mrs Green just looked confused.

 

It got worse! It was the U14 final of the football competition and there was a presentation party brought out to meet the teams, shake their hands and to stand for the national anthem. To my utter disbelief Mr Stanley and Mrs Green were part of it. I can understand Mrs Green being invited – she is a class act after all, but Mr Stanley? I looked over to Jasmine – she was speechless!

 

The game started between the two schools, Good Hope and Kyambura. Readers of this blog with good memories will remember this was the game in which a bad injury occurred in the Conservation Cup, but the children were younger and only the Good Hope team had boots on, so understandably the Kyambura children weren’t flying into tackles.

 

There were two Ugandans commentating over a PA system with background crowd noise being played in the background. They both seemed to be very animated and making a lot of gestures, but they were getting the crowd going. Then Mr Stanley had to go and ruin it all! He appeared out of nowhere, took the microphone off one of the Ugandans and began commentating himself. This was perhaps the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever seen Mr Stanley do in all the time I’ve known him and there’s a pretty long list of things to choose from! The other commentator looked totally bemused which is mild to how Jasmine and I felt – She was speechless!

 

While Mr Stanley prattled on about anything and everything, the other commentator tried to get in on the act. First of all, he described Mr Stanley as Japanese. I fell about laughing! Mr Stanley was forced to deny this. Next, he said that Mr Stanley was Polish. There was more substance to this claim as at least Mr Stanley was blond before he went grey! Mr Stanley told the other commentator that he was British, and from that point forwards the other commentator kept calling him BBC Africa, which would be hilarious if only Mr Stanley had a millionth of the standards that the BBC requires. I won’t tell you about his attempts to dance when Good Hope scored a goal. Poor Mrs Green could only sit in the gazebo looking embarrassed!

 

When the game was over, Mr Stanley and Mrs Green got back in the car and drove back to Mweya, quite quickly as it happens. I raised a paw in salute to the Ugandan workmen filling the potholes in the road down to Katunguru while Mr Stanley open the car window and shouted out some patronising words of encouragement. By now I was seriously considering completely disowning Mr Stanley, but Jasmine and I decided to get back in our rucksack. Beware readers, I’m handing you back to Mr Stanley…

 

We were back om Mweya for by 6.30pm for the first time all week, but we didn’t head straight home. I had to arrange a meeting with Safari Ben, the ranger who drives the boats on the Kazinga Channel cruise. Ben is also a member of the management committee of the children’s nursery on Mweya, which QEPP have supported in the past. Ben wasn’t on the boat, but I managed to get his phone number and arrange a meeting at Tembo at 8.00pm. We drove back to Hippo House where we arrived just before Nick, Ash and Katie F. Katie didn’t look very well while Nick and Ash resembled lobsters. Apparently, they had spent most of the day around the pool at the Safari Lodge as they had a day off before they travelled back to Entebbe.

 

We reconvened at Tembo (apart from Katie F) and were also joined by Stu McIntosh and his family, who were moving on to Mweya and were going to move into Hippo House when the others left. I met with Safari Ben and passed on some resources to him while Mrs Green needed to ask him some questions about how the nursery was running. Katie M had also made some teaching resources for the nursery which were very gratefully received. I had always assumed that Safari Ben was a nickname, but it turns out that Ben was due to be born in a hospital, but the car taking his mother there didn’t make it in time. Therefore, he was born on the roadside. The man who delivered him told his mother that he should be named Journey (safari is Swahili for journey) because he was born on a journey. Therefore, his name is Benedict Safari!

 

It turned out to be a late night at Tembo as it was the first night of the Premier League. Nick and Ash wanted to watch the Man Utd vs Leicester game; many Ugandans had turned up to watch the game also.

 

Tomorrow, the others return to Entebbe while Mrs Green and I are going to lunch with Stephen Biru.

Finally some answers to questions:

Mrs Prior, football is the most popular game played by children inside and outside of school, but we have also seen children playing with a hoop and a stick. Most of the children are too busy helping their parents to be playing games in the house. 

Mr Burford, this year was the first year that I have seen posters for Ugandan films. There is a small but thriving film industry. Please see the link below….

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/13/wakaliwood-inside-ugandas-action-movie-studio

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Uganda 2018 Day 9: Painting the Forth Bridge

It was a relative lay in for me today, but for the CM Sports group it was an early start. They were up for a 7.00am start with Mongoose trekking followed by a walk in the Rwenzoris and then a visit to Rihamu Junior School.

Mrs Green and I were afforded the luxury of a leisurely breakfast at Tembo before we set off for New Life Junior School. The school was founded by Yowasi and is located behind the family home. Mrs Green was going to be doing some teaching about co-ordination and fine motor control. There wasn’t anything really arranged for me, so I spent most of the morning sitting around trying to support Mrs Green where I could. Bea McIntosh had joined us once again and was working with Mrs Green – they have formed a very close bond. Bea has just returned from a year of teaching in Cambodia. Between them, they had the children in the palm of their hands, and the pupils were soon patting their heads while rubbing their tummies, bursting bubbles and swapping hands between nodes and ears. There was one boy who didn’t have the use of both arms and I think was autistic. When Bea started a game where she threw each pupils a ball and they had to give a word related to a letter in the alphabet, one of the teachers said that he wasn’t capable of doing it. Bea immediately threw the ball to the pupils who caught it in his good hand and gave a fantastic answer. I was so pleased for him.

Yowasi’s wife, Ruth, made us a nice lunch and then we headed down to Katunguru where Mrs Green and Bea were going to give another talk about sanitation. I was (once again) at a loose end so I asked Ramathan if there was anything he wanted me to do. He asked me to help P7’S with their English revision which was basically SP&Good and based around sentence construction. This was not my idea of fun, so I spent some of the time taking the mickey out of the pupils who were all in P2 when I first visited Katunguru six years ago. I also pulled the exam paper apart as the examination board had made many mistakes. Sweet potatoes was spelled ‘sweat potatoes! ‘

At the end of the two hours I was really pleased with what the children had achieved and I had marked all their work saving Ramathan a job. Mrs Green was carrying out some research so I caught up with Ramathan for a little while before we dropped Bea home.

Now to the title of this blog post. Regular readers of my Uganda blog will know that I regard the Katunguru – Kyambura Road as the worst in Uganda. However, this year there has been a bit of a change. There has been a team of workmen filling the holes on a daily basis and they have covered a distance of about 5km during the time I have been in Uganda – these guys work really hard. I have made a point of sticking my head out of the window every time I pass them and encouraging them. The unfortunate thing is that as soon as they finish, they will have to start again as the repairs they have carried out will last a matter of months. Hence the similarity to painting the Forth Bridge, as soon as they finish, they will have to start again!

When we returned to Tembo we found the others who’d had another good day. The visit to Rihamu had inspired all of them while also making them all think about how lucky they were. The headteacher, Shakily, had taken them to see where they allowed 25 orphans to sleep. Katie F was adamant that she could make a real difference to the school and I think the visit had little a real fire under her.

Tomorrow, The CM Sports group have a day off while Mrs Green and I go back to New Life and then have a meeting with Stephen Both, the District Education Officer.

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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, they 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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kyambura primary school

Ugandan Twinning Project Teachers

on behalf of the school,i thank you for the letters received from sheet primary school to our our school in uganda. we were very much pleased because our school children were very interested in receiving the letters. we also replied your letters on monday through adam. your letter writing was highly appreciated. all from moses, kyambura primary school uganda.

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