I did not have a good night’s sleep and was awake regularly from about 04.00. My alarm going off was a relief as I could get up. After looking in the mirror, I began to understand why my sleep was so interrupted. The various midges had been feasting on my back which now resembled a pizza. Mrs Green had bought us both some Avon So Soft which is what the royal marines are supposed to use to keep nasty bitey things away. It’s had no effect on me.
Mrs Green had her first rolex at Tembo this morning and realised what she had been missing all this time. We had a lot to do today, so after picking up Jess, who was doing some follow up mongoose work with P7, we headed off for the day. Our first stop was Kyambura Primary who are twinned with Sheet Primary School where we met Hope, the headteacher and Moses, their Twinning Project coordinator. Moses told me that he had a problem with his laptop battery life, but fully charged its life was as long as my laptop’s. Kyambura are also in the fortunate position of having an electricity supply which many Ugandan schools don’t have. The only way that Kafuro can get electricity is to ‘go solar’ which will cost between £4.8 – 5 million Ugandan shillings (just over £1000). We explained to Hope and Moses that there is a new headteacher at Sheet Primary School and there may be a small lag until normal communication is resumed. We took photos of the school and went on our way with many messages of goodwill.
By the time we arrived at Kafuro, the sun had really come out and it was baking hot. Our first activity of the day was to walk down through the village and visit the Kafuro beehives. It was about a mile and a half walk which was quite wearing in the heat, but the views were spectacular. I asked how much a new house would cost in Kafuro and Yowasi told me about £6500. I would quite happily live in Kafuro if I could wake up to those views every morning. When we reached the apiary we were met by a man named Solomon, the resident bee expert. The village cooperative owns 164 bee hives and Solomon is responsible for their maintenance. He opened up the one of the hives to show us how they keep the bees from absconding; the queen is kept in a little cage. The hives were kept near to a little stream so there was good access to water, but there was little shade so the children are embarking on a programme of planting shrubs and trees. We then crossed over a trench to keep out elephants where we saw more mature hives located in greater shade. This is what Kafuro are aiming for in a couple of years. At the moment two of the six hives that Kafuro own are populated with bees, but they are expecting more colonies over the next year. The main honey producing season in Uganda is between August and February, so they are hoping for a good honey crop over the next six months. We were also joined by Elinah, the new community ranger for Kafuro, who has already struck up a good rapport with Yowasi.
After thanking Solomon we returned back to school under the baking heat. I spotted lollipops similar to chuba chups at a stall so I bought one for every child in the class. It cost 3800 Ugandan shillings, less than 3p a lolly. Back at school Elinah, Jess, Mrs Green and I all heard readers from P6. All the children were fluent readers with the favourite books this year being Horrid Henry and Ben 10, all books donated by Liss children. The children all really appreciated the fact that we were prepared to hear them read and didn’t want to stop.
After a lunch of chapattis (made by the children) and an onion and cabbage salad, we set out on the next part of our scheduled activities. This was to see the cultural museum that the children had created in the house that they had built for me last year. The items that the children had put into the museum were very traditional and dated back to the Iron Age. The children had made wooden re-creations of the knives and spears and told us about how they were used. One of the children who showed us around was Wilbur, a real character. He is known as ‘Senior’ I thought because he is small in stature, but apparently because he is so responsible and will forgo playing with his friends to do family chores. Wilbur also made me laugh when I was trying to count to twenty in Rukiga. He kept correcting me when my pronunciation was wrong… he would make a good teacher.
We left the school at 3.00pm and headed for Rumuru Primary School where Winnie, the former head of Kafuro Primary School was waiting for us. In Ugandan schools most headteachers are transferred every couple of years and Winnie was promoted to the headship of a larger school; Rumuru has over 500 pupils compared to the 330 at Kafuro. Winnie was very pleased to see us and gave us a tour of the grounds and the classrooms. This was followed by an assembly where we introduced ourselves and gave words of encouragement to the pupils. Once again my attempts to speak Rukiga were met by the children rolling around with laughter, quite literally in some cases. What really pleased both of us was that Yowasi intends to share the weather station as a learning resource with other schools. They will book in times to visit kafuro. This is something that I had never considered suggesting but it turns out that the only other weather station with anything like the capability of ours is at the UWA Education Centre on Mweya, and schools have to pay a large sum of money by Ugandan standards to visit. Visiting Kafuro will be much cheaper!
After the assembly, we met with the staff who were anxious to learn about teaching in the UK. In Uganda they have to work until they’re 60, but this is about to change to 55. However, when you factor in life expectancy, this is extremely old and teachers are quite literally carried out of classrooms in coffins.
Winnie provided us with a lovely meal of pork, matoke and rice, and we were very sorry to say goodbye at the end of the afternoon. She is a very charismatic headteacher and the atmosphere at Rumuru Primary was exactly the same as when she head at Kafuru.
Dinner at Tembo was a very relaxed affair and made even better by hearing England had stuffed the Aussies in the cricket. We’ve been flat out since we left the UK on Monday afternoon and now it’s the weekend our schedule is slightly clearer. Tomorrow we are going to Kasese to sort out the internet for Kafuro.
A big ‘Thank You’ to Mrs Pritchard for her second question. Children are supposed to wear a school uniform although a minority don’t due to lack of funds. I bought one the first time I visited Uganda and it was extremely well made and cost about 55,000 Ugandan shillings (£12)
Hamish Henderson has asked what time Ugandan children go to bed. I don’t actually know, Hamish, but will find out and post my answer. I do know that they get up very early as children were walking to school at 06.30am as we were driving across Uganda.