The Kid’s Experience
This is what our kids from the UK learnt about:
- It’s good to try new things, even if you don’t feel confident with them.
- I felt humbled by the giving and loving attitudes of people who have so little when I have so much.
- I have learnt that we can make a difference in Uganda,
- Perhaps a simple life makes for happiness
- This was the first time I have seen the symptoms of malnutrition. I found it really disturbing.
- They came to us so that we could help them with their French but they ended up teaching us!
- I just don’t know how they manage to carry those jerry-cans of water every day. It would kill me!!
- I have been overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome here.
- There is so much happiness in Uganda in the face of adversity.
- Often we think that we need things but we really mean we would like them. When they need things, it is often essentials, like water!
- We take so much for granted
- I have learnt that you can be very happy with very little
- I have come to realise that I haven’t really valued my education until now.
- I feel I have been spoilt – I have so much.
- I thought I was strong but realise I am not.
- I am ashamed that I have been so ungrateful for what I’ve got. They seem so poor but they are so happy.
- It was a life changing experience.
- It wasn’t all easy, some things were upsetting, some challenging, others lots of fun.
- Each night we could share the moods, feelings and thoughts about the day.
Here’s what the kids wrote for their school community
The School Week
During the school week we sat in on a few lessons with our buddies. There were so different, as there weren’t any text books or resources, so it was just the teacher dictating facts to the class. The class sizes were also different, often being at least 60 pupils in a small classroom, so not everyone had a seat. When we tried to join in we didn’t understand anything as the lessons were so hard. As we arrived during exams many classes didn’t have teachers but instead of messing around like we would a pupil dictated the lesson. They really treasure their education as they know it’s there only way out of poverty.
On the Tuesday of the first week the Testbourne boys played with the Ugandan boys in an intense football match. We had brought a new football kit for the Mityana Secondary School boys to wear. So we tested it out. WE put on this bright green kit and it suited them more than us. Anyway the match lasted just 35 minutes each way as we found it hard to bear the heat as well as the Ugandans did.
The game ended 2=2 . Afterwards there was a penalty shoot out, with the whole school watching. It felt like we were in the premiership. None of the Ugandans wear shoes to play football so the socks we took will have to wait to be worn until they get boots…
Compared to our lives of luxury with double beds, TVs, wardrobes full of clothes and shoes, even if you share a room with a sibling, our lives are a far cry from the boarding students of Mityana Secondary School.
In a room roughly the size of the RE room there would be at least 80 girls in that one room. Bunk beds three beds high with all their belongings on their bed was where they slept and they slept with all their stuff around them. A few of the girls had the luxury of a mosquito net.
On one of the beams on the room shoes, clothes and other belongings sit and shirts hang and there are randomly stuck pages of magazines with Miss Uganda smiling at you.
Surprisingly it didn’t smell as much as I expected it to as their personal hygiene is sometimes not the best. Also they were all so proud to show us their bed and belongings and liked to pose enthusiastically for photos.
Outside there is a small building with three separate compartments with a hole in the middle. Yes – this is the loo. They were disgusting and very smelly. The shower cubicles were literally concrete walls and concrete floor and the girls stood there and threw a bucket of water over themselves.
Around the dormitory there was a big fence with barbed wire and a gate which was locked at night and during the day when the girls were at school. At night this meant the girls couldn’t get out and the boys couldn’t get in! [/minimal_toggle]
The Water Walk
The boys and girls set off for separate waterholes. The walk down there went on and on and the girls had to stand on a beam around the water hole and shove their jerry can under the water horizontally. Then they had to take great care hauling it out – it was 20 litres and they didn’t want to end up in the water too so most of the Ugandan girls helped them.
Then we had to walk back up the slope. It felt really good when you got to the top but your arms felt as if they were going to drop off! It really hits home how hard ti is after you’ve tried it yourself. To think they have to do it all the time is shocking and it really shows the difference between us and them – when we only have to walk 3 paces/seconds to a tap.
We are putting tanks right outside their dorms which compared to walking the 2 kms will be a real treat. Also the water will be cleaner so it is great to think how much we are helping. [/minimal_toggle]
One day we went out to Makonzi. The journey was bumpy as we headed off the main road in the bus, with Juma driving. We finally reached the school after about 2 hours. We were welcomed by rows of children on their side of the path and the welcome was fantastic.
Then there was more singing and we gave the school gifts that we had collected and brought over. Footballs, games and clothes – general things that we take for granted everyday. Receiving what we consider as pretty basic things the children looked incredibly happy. We blew bubbles and I didn’t realise how much it could lighten up so many faces. For me it was hard to leave that school. The rural schools we visited were brilliant and I am so glad we got the chance to see them.
We had to be up early to attend the service and it was very uplifting and so full of energy. The singing and involvement from everyone felt unreal and was so different from the church services in England. Every hymn that was sung – not only was everyone on their feet but everyone was clapping and moving from side to side. They had so much faith and energy – it was brilliant, along with their voices, the atmosphere was amazing and everyone seemed so enthusiastic.
We then had to introduce ourselves to the whole congregation. I remember all of us going up the steps onto a higher platform and facing everyone. I hadn’t realised how many people fitted in and around the sides and were up in the balcony. It was nerve racking but we all introduced ourselves. I think it gave us all a confidence boost but I don’t think we realised at the time we’d be doing this quite often. I think the church service is one of the parts of the trip that any of us will forget and for me – it was one of the best parts.
It’s really fun on the bus out in Uganda. There are so many things to see that are just not seen in the UK. Firstly I noticed the contrast between their homes and ours. You could be looking at a really nice house one moment and then you were looking at huts. Also in the towns people try and sell you stuff through your window, at the traffic lights when you stop. The most interesting thing they tried to sell you was a chicken –a live one!
Some of the roads are just mud tracks and an English person wouldn’t even consider trying to drive down one. However our legendary bus driver, Juma, (the driver) managed to get us down and back! All of this shows how different our cultures are. If someone tried to sell you a chicken through your window in England they would be arrested but In Uganda it is normal. Even though there was so much to see – some people still slept!