Best day ever, completely awesome. Third day in school – sign visitors book. Mr Stanley told the story of Goldilocks and the 3 bears, however, he had changed it to Goldilocks and the 3 leopards to the Nursery class. Larry the Leopard also helped him! Each class gathered on the grass area to have a photo taken for us to take back to Liss. Mr Stanley had requested that the younger children sang his favourite song, the Kookaburra song/dance. This had been presented to him on a previous visit. After this we had a meeting with the parents, the chair of Governors and the chair of the PTA. Mr Yowasi spoke to the parents about the equipment we had bought with us to help the children share their learning further through our class blog. He was very excited to tell them about the ‘Roamer’ we had bought and quickly got the resources together to give them a demonstration. He made the Roamer travel across the classroom floor, pick-up some keys from a parent, turn 360° and return to him. Then it was Mr Stanley’s turn to make a speech. He thanked the community, the local community Ranger (Janet), and the school for making us so welcome and described the affect the work of the project is having on the children in Liss as well as the children in Kafuro. Just as I had felt relieved from having to make a speech, Mr Yowasi invited me to stand up and make a speech too! Luckily I had obviously said the right things, as the parents and staff applauded! After lunch, which was pork pieces and flavoured rice, Mr Yowasi had arranged for the children to show us how to make a house out of wattle and daub. This was a very special moment for both Mr Stanley and I, we were very humbled by what we were just about to see. Tradition in Kafuro is that a boy builds his first house with his father before he is married. The first step was for the children in the family to tread straw and water into the mud. Next we saw 2 tools brought out that will be used for the job, a machete and a hoe. Dried bamboo fibres are tied together to make a marking tape. Then bamboo canes are whittled with a machete to make ‘stakes’. These are banged in to the ground to mark the shape of the floor plan of the building. Next, larger stakes are measured (by sight only, no measuring equipment used) to check the height of the building will be adequate. Mr Stanley stood in the centre of the floor plan so that the builders (who were the children with parents helping) could make sure the house would be big enough. The bamboo canes were held together with tied banana fibres. They checked that the bamboo canes were level by using banana fibres tied together and looked to see if the knot was level in the middle (no spirit level required!). After the structure had been built, wattle and daub was applied. We left the children building whilst we were invited in to the staff room for lunch. Today was Goat pieces and flavoured rice, with fresh pineapple for desert.
After lunch, we went down to the lake to collect water. The children, despite the heat, quickly ran across the school yard to collect their jerry cans. They ran along the pathways without cutting any corners, and rushed down to the lake, about half a mile away down a steep path from the village. As we went with them we could see other members of the community doing the same thing but at a more sedate pace. As the children reached the bottom, we could see how pleased they were to jump in to the water up to their knees to fill their jerry cans. Other children, who were not at school, were also swimming in the lake. The water being collected looked fairly green and a smattering of Lake fly. After about 20 children had filled their cans, they promptly marched back up the hill to the pathway back to school. Their water would normally be used for drinking, cooking and washing. But this time it was for applying to the mud to make more wattle and daub. On our way back to the village, Mr Yowasi took me to see how some other homes were made in the village. Some were made of only grasses woven together. Mostly the homes were wattle and daub with a banana fibre roof and some were wattle and daub with a corrugated iron roof. Only one or two were built with brick. Cooking facilities were a fire pit either inside or outside the home. Meat is kept fresh by keeping it alive until required! Hence many homes have goats tethered up and chickens roaming freely.
Once back at the school, it was almost time for us to leave. Winnie, the headteacher had a discussion with us. She has made us feel so very welcome and really part of her staff team. She invited us to her house if we had time, “for at least one hour and with food” she said. Winnie had recently got married with 1000 guests at her wedding! She took delight in showing us some of her photos.
At the end of the school day, we took Mr Yowasi to pick up his wife Ruth and daughter Linda. Mr Yowasi was keen to show us the twin lakes and caves local to where he lives. These twin lakes had been formed by volcanoes. The views and surroundings were spectacular. Once at the visitor centre, the tour guide gave us a walking stick each to use for walking down the steep hill side down to the cave. As some of you know, I am quite fearful of ‘flying things’ and especially am not comfortable around bats. I was acutely aware that caves are a favourite home for bats. I said nothing, gritted my teeth and sat on a stool close to the entrance of the cave (just in case a quick escape was required!) The guide told us that until quite recently in terms of history, people lived in this cave using the lakes for fish as food. As she was talking, I suddenly became distracted by……… yep, a bat. Not wanting to look rude or silly in front of Mr Yowasi’s family, I gripped the stool hard, ground my teeth and shut my eyes. I think the tour guide noticed I was uncomfortable and we soon left the cave – breath again! We left the centre, dropping Mr Yowasi and his family back home and arrived back to the Safari Lodge where we could enjoy a glass of the sweet, cold nectar of Africa (Nile Special) and attempt to get internet access for uploading to the blog. This has not been easy as there has been several storms which has affected internet connection. When we arrived at Hippo House, we met Mr Vincent from Bukorwe Primary school who had come back with Mrs Buckle and Miss Hubbard from Clanfield School, to stay with us. He will be staying with us until there is transport to take him back to Bukorwe.
Larry the leopard writes….
Mr Stanley and Mrs Green took the QE Project Van, leaving Mweya really early at 8.50am. I was very excited as today was class photo day and I was looking forward to having my photo taken with all the children from Kafuro as they always stroke me and make me welcome. It was another glorious day without a cloud in the sky and the journey up to Kafuro was very pleasant.
When we reached the school some of the children were finishing exams and Yowasi asked Mr Stanley to read the children a traditional story. Mr Stanley thought he would be really clever and changed Goldilocks and the three bears to Goldilocks and the three leopards, one of which was me. If that wasn’t bad enough, he portrayed me as some sort of psychopath with severe anger management issues. I must remember to put laxatives in his Nile Special!
Things began to improve when we got round to taking the photos. All of the children were delighted to see me and they wanted to take turns to stroke me. I had my photo taken with every class while Mrs Green operated the camera and Mr Stanley handed out class photos of the children at Liss along with letters, which were eagerly accepted.
After this Mr Stanley and Mrs Green had to address a parents meeting with Yowasi and Winie the headteacher. Mr Stanley spoke for a long time, A LONG TIME! I’m not sure anyone was still awake when he finished. Mrs Green spoke for a couple of minutes and got a massive round of applause! Next, Yowasi started speaking to the parents in the local language and everyone got excited. A moment later we realised that he was talking about the roamer and before too long he was demonstrating how it worked. I had heard Mr Stanley telling Yowasi how he wanted to take the roamer down to Tembo Canteen so he could program it to fetch him a Nile Special. Fortunately, Yowasi possesses a professionalism that Mr Stanley can only begin to dream of and he showed the parents how to draw a square and then sent the roamer across the room to fetch a bunch of keys.
The last speaker was a parents’ representative who stated how much they valued the partnership between the two schools and hoped that in the future there might be an exchange between governors or PTA members.
After the humans had eaten a meal of goat and tomato rice, Yowasi asked them to step outside and the most spectacular event of the day began, the building of a wattle and daub house. Both Mr Stanley and Mrs Green had worn smelly clothes to help out if needed, but the children and some of the parents from Kafuro had everything under control. I won’t repeat the process as Mrs Green has written about it eloquently earlier in this post, but needless to say it was amazing. Mrs Green took photos of each stage while Mr Stanley pranced around like the big show – off he is posing for photos and generally getting in the way.
We leopards are highly intelligent animals and it was easy to recognise the building and cooperative skills that the children possessed. There was no complaining, no moaning, just a happy buzz of children doing something that they were good at. With the building frame complete it was time to fetch the water from the lake in order to make up the daub. This was about half a mile away. In temperatures that were exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit this would be considered a tall order but once again the children carried the jerry cans without complaint. Again, Mr Stanley proved how useless he was by trying to help out and carrying a 30 litre jerry can back to school. After about half the distance he had to put it down because he was sweating so much. One of the children had to take over for him, he picked up the jerry can as if he was picking up a feather! What was even funnier was that the children had got used to his thick accent and were starting to take the mickey out of him by saying, ‘Amazing’ and ‘Fabulous’ in hilarious mock London accents.
By the end of the afternoon the walls had been half completed and Mr Stanley was very happy at least until he abruptly put me back in his rucksack so I’d better let him carry on from here otherwise he’ll start sulking…
Mr Stanley continues….
I walked to the bus thinking I was going to cry, I was so humbled by the generosity that the parents and children had shown towards us. However, there was no time for emotion as we were going to meet Yowasi’s wife, Ruth, and daughter, Linda, to go for a walk by twin lakes and then see a cave and a cultural museum.
Mrs Green said that the look on my face was one of total bemusement throughout this stage of the visit. This was mainly due to the fact that although the cave and museum were interesting there was no real historical context given to them so I didn’t know whether items were 20 years old or 2000 years old. Yowasi knew much more than the guide so I think he has another profession lined up should he want it. We took Yowasi back home and he showed us the new house he is three-quarters of the way through building. After this it was the long drive home.
I had been gaining confidence driving by day on the Ugandan roads and there had been lots of banter between Ronnie and myself about hiring a Muzungu driver and tour guide! Driving at night is another experience altogether. Not only do you have to avoid the potholes and look out for wild animals, but you also have to face vehicles coming in the other direction with full beam headlights on, but without the etiquette to dim them so I was frequently blinded temporarily. Thanks to a considerate guard who let us in through the Katunguru gate after closing time (as opposed to sending us to the main gate) we made reasonable progress home. We stopped off at the Safari Lodge for a drink while we tried to access their wireless, a pretty thankless task. We had missed the others who were now at Tembo having their dinner and by the time we got there they had left. So Mrs Green’s and I had a plate of chips each for dinner and a couple of Nile Specials while we chatted to Patrick (Tembo’s manager) and Godfrey (warden in charge of tourism). There was one more spectacular sight before we turned in for the night. The sky was crystal clear and the stars were amazing. We must have spent ages just gazing up at them before finally turning in on what had been an amazing day.
And finally an answer to a question from Liz: Sunrise is about 7am and sunset is about 7pm at night. The sunrise and sunset are both very beautiful to see, but happen very suddenly as though someone is switching the lights on and off! The temperature is about 30 – 33 degrees C during the day and about 20 – 25 degrees C during the night.