I know that it’s a cliché, but today was another amazing day. After rising at 6.20am and a breakfast of malarone, banana and cereal bar, Tara and I set off for our respective schools. There were lots of exams happening today at Kafuro, so I didn’t have any contact with the children before playtime. When the children came out of their exams I got out the tags and the rugby balls and we played some tag games before progressing on to a glorified version of ‘Piggy in the middle’.
After the children had gone back to lessons I had a chat with Boaz, the headteacher. He was explaining how government funding for state schools is very low; for example – each school has a Ugandan flag, but Kafuro Primary doesn’t have a flagpole to display it. The biggest issue Kafuro Primary faces in my opinion is a lack of electricity. Although Yowasi now has a laptop he has to cycle ten miles from school up extremely steep hills to an internet café in order to charge it. One of the things the Twinning Project will be considering is how we can supply solar power to remote communities like this so they can access electricity more simply.
Our next job was to distribute photos and letters to all the classes in the school. In each class Yowasi made a speech and handed over the photo and letters. I had to write the name of the Liss class and teacher on the chalkboard. In typical style Larry got in on the act and found himself in most class photos. It really is incredible how a cuddly toy can break down so many barriers and just another reminder of how similar children are the world over.
Lunchtime was more rice, salad, matoke and papayas. Most Ugandans are fairly small and quite thin, but they are deceptively strong and very fit. Their diet is very low in fat and high in protein and carbohydrate. Many of them cycle or walk several miles to work or school. When it comes to sport there is an abundance of natural talent. If Uganda was to invest the same amount of money into sport as Kenya, then they would be winning all sorts of Olympic medals. For anyone who doubts this I would advise you to find a copy of An African Tragedy – The John Akii Bua Story to see what Ugandan athletes are capable of.
I spent much of the afternoon teaching the staff how to play Top Trumps, as I had brought out a set that Class AS had made about British Olympians. I ran the first game so that the staff knew what to do, but then I stepped back and let the staff play against each other. It soon became cut – throat stuff!
As the afternoon wound down to a close I worked on some rugby drills with the boys in P7. At first they found Auckland grids difficult to get to grips with before improving dramatically. And that was the end of my first week at the school.
The day was far from over, however. I had been invited to Yowasi’s house to meet his wife, Ruth, and his daughter, Linda. His house was suitably spick and span and (as the photos testify if I’ve posted them successfully) his family absolutely adorable. Yowasi’s mother, two of his sisters and one of his brothers live with them on the family plot although he has big plans to build his own house. The hospitality shown to me will live forever in my memory and gave me a welcome reminder of some of the most endearing aspects of humanity.
Back at Hippo house we met Rebecca and Stu who had both had a brilliant time down in the south. Stu had been lion tracking near the border with Congo and had also attracted the attention of UN helicopters. Rebecca had received a tremendous welcome from the children and staff at Bukorwe, which had made the long journey more than worthwhile. They brought back with them Vincent, Rebecca’s linked teacher from Bukorwe. It was also great to see Charles, our driver and we all had dinner together at the local hostel. The amount of jokes and laughter around the table shows what a close tightknit bunch we’ve become.
Tomorrow, we have a Twinning Project meeting with all of the teachers and we’re also off to Kasese to but stationary for the Ugandan schools and internet dongles. We will be having a big meal together, I’ve acquired some Ugandan music and we will be joined by some of the rangers.
One final note. As I type this the Olympic Opening Ceremony is beginning. Good luck to everyone involved especially my brother in law, Ray, who is drumming and leading one of the teams into the stadium. It is a day when I am proud to be British and although I am a long way from home I will be thinking of my country tonight.