There are many things in life that may constitute a miracle: A Welshman winning the Tour de France, the England football team making the semi – finals of the World Cup, Donald Trump visiting a country and not causing some sort of diplomatic incident. All of these pale into insignificance compared to the news that Mr Stanley has been granted a visa to visit Uganda yet again! This can only result in pain and misery for the entire nation. Fortunately, there is some good news. I will once again be returning to my spiritual homeland to be received by my adoring legions of followers. Throughout my progress in Uganda, my paws will be in overdrive documenting Mr Stanley’s attempts to set back Anglo – Ugandan relations to the dark ages. Here’s a taste of what to expect over the next few weeks.
Mr Stanley: Fresh from ruining the lives and prospects of another class of English children, he’s off to do the same to the children of Kafuro.
Mrs Green: The voice of sanity in the group. I guided Mrs Green through her first trip to Uganda four years ago. Respectful and astute, she is an ideal visitor to Uganda and possesses the class Mr Stanley can only ever dream of.
Nick Evans: Director of CM Sports and well-known to Liss children, this is Nick’s first visit to Uganda. Under Mr Stanley’s guidance, I would fear for his health and sanity. Just as well then that I will be keeping young Mr Evans under my close supervision.
Ash Billenge: Ash, who also works at CM Sports is very excited about visiting Uganda for the first time. He has been described as like a seven year old on Christmas Eve. I think that I’m going to have some fun with this one!
Katie Foster, Lisa Tyson & Katie McKay: All three are teachers and first time visitors to Uganda. They will be going to do some work at Katunguru Primary School – that’s if they can get any sleep. Both Mr Stanley and Nick snore so loud that many a poor visitor to Mweya has thought that a hippo has got into the house.
Jasmine Bunny: Jasmine is my very special friend and I will be taking great care of her on this trip to Uganda. She doesn’t say much – she hasn’t got a mouth!!!
Stu McIntosh: Stu is the volunteer ranger who accompanied Mr Stanley on his first two trips to Uganda and lived to tell the tale. He has promised to spend some one to one time with me in Uganda to offer me some counselling – Stu seems to think that I have some deep-seated anger issues caused by offensive comments directed to me that I’m actually a jaguar not a leopard. He is convinced that talking about this traumatic incident in my life will end my psychosis and I will no longer need to project as a leopard! Stu needs to realise that there is more chance of Scotland winning the world cup than me ever admitting to being an inferior South American version of myself. I’m a leopard: deal with it!
Bea McIntosh: Another who has survived two trips to Uganda with Mr Stanley, Bea has an addiction to pineapple fanta but otherwise has made a difference to lives in Uganda in a positive way. She’s going to be doing some work with Mrs Green on this trip.
Lachlan McIntosh: His first visit to Uganda! The strong silent type – a bit like Jasmine but with a mouth and smaller ears!
Torin McIntosh: Very impressive for a seven year old. He met my best leopard stare the other night without blinking. In some ways I feel quite sorry for him – his dad loves him so much that as soon as he’s finished school in the UK for the year, he’s being sent to school in Uganda for a few days. I’ll keep a close eye on him!
Mr Stanley, Mrs Green, Jasmine and I fly out of London Heathrow at 11.30am on Tuesday morning. We are flying with Turkish Airlines this year as after last year’s experience with Egypt Air (read last year’s blog if you don’t know what happened) Mrs Green was so angry that even I was scared. We land at Entebbe Airport in the early hours of Wednesday morning to be met by Ronnie from our partners, Range Land Safaris. I like Ronnie: he is a former ranger who has genuine respect for leopards.
Mr Stanley and Mrs Green then drive through the night and morning to get to Fort Portal where they have breakfast. What actually happens is that Mrs Green falls asleep and faceplants in the front seat while Mr Stanley puts on his (terrible) music and I give him directions. From Fort Portal, they drive to Kasese to pick up supplies – this year they are also visiting Rihamu Junior School in Kasese who have been twinned with Hambledon Primary School in the UK. Finally, they drive to Mweya where all my friends are waiting for me.
The CM sports crowd arrive at Mweya the following afternoon by which time I will have already visited Mahyoro and Kyambura to drop off letters from West Meon Primary and Sheet Primary respectively.
On Friday and Saturday, the work really starts as Nick, Ash and Mr Stanley will be running the Conservation Cup tournament. Stu and his family should be joining us at some stage over the two days. This year the tournament comprises three different disciplines: Tag Rugby where Kafuro will be looking to defend their title, football and a conservation presentation. The overall winner will be determined by which schools scores finishes highest over the three events.
After a rest day (from Mr Stanley) the group splits into two for the following week. Mr Stanley and Mrs Green go to see the children at Kafuro for three days. There they will be meeting my Uncle Yowasi and running the first annual Kafuro Film Festival. Mrs Green will be putting her culinary skills to the test by helping the children make pizza, bread and scones while Mr Stanley gets in the way. Apparently, he’s going to do some important work with the children challenging their misconceptions of the UK. Parents are going to be invited to view the films with the children where they will also eat the food that they have prepared.
Nick, Ash, Katie, Lisa and Katie will be working with children in Katunguru where my mate Ramathan will be looking after them. As well as teaching, they will also get the opportunity to go on safari, take part in mongoose trekking and go on the Kazinga Channel cruise. Later in the week, they will be visiting Rihamu and going on a trek in the Rwenzori Mountains. Mrs Green and Mr Stanley will be joining Stu and his family at the school Yowasi set up – New Life Junior School. Mrs Green will be doing some important research on SEN while Mr Stanley will be getting in the way – AGAIN! He insists that he will be working with community groups on how to micro-finance projects.
On Saturday week, the CM Sports group head back to Kampala (possibly to the rugby international between Uganda and Morocco) and a couple of days of rest and recuperation before heading back to the UK. Mr Stanley and Mrs Green potentially have a day off on theSaturday before going on a top secret mission for a science experiment on the Sunday. Mr Stanley keeps wittering on about how impressed the children will be, but my leopard instinct tells me that they will be completely underwhelmed. We will see.
Mrs Green and Mr Stanley have to run a cluster meeting for Ugandan teachers a week on Monday before they go on a very special adventure on the Tuesday. Mrs Green is going to visit a special school in Buwenge which is in eastern Uganda (half an hour north of Jinja – a ten and a half hour drive from Mweya) where she will be doing some research about how people with disabilities are included in the community and in schools.
Their final day in Uganda will involve meetings with Kyambogo University and the Ugandan Wildlife Authority before finally flying home (this is assuming that Mr Stanley hasn’t already been deported).
As you can see, this is a very busy trip and I will be there every step of the way to report on the good (Mrs Green, Jasmine, myself – in fact anyone who isn’t Mr Stanley), the bad (Mr Stanley) and the ugly (definitely Mr Stanley). Make sure you visit this blog every day from Wednesday to catch up on the action. A more sedate (some might say boring) account of events will appear on the QEPP Schools blog.
Finally, Mr Stanley has asked me to remind my adoring public of the two competitions running this year. The best question asked about Uganda or the trip in general this year will win a prize (children and adults can enter this) while there is also another prize for estimating how far I will travel in miles on this trip from leaving Liss on Tuesday morning to arriving back in Liss on 16th August. The second competition is for children only.
Right, I’m off to supervise Mr Stanley and Mrs Green’s packing. Feel free to add your comments at any stage.