Uganda 2014 Day 9: Clean Up Kasese

Mrs Green writes:

After breakfast, we took our transport to Kasese where we had been tasked with joining a school of children (on a Saturday) to do litter picking. This project was called ‘Clean-Up Kasese’. We arrived at the school after about an hour and a half journey. It was very hot and humid already. The children were organised into rows, and we handed out disposable gloves and bin bags. Ironically, as the teachers were tearing off the tops of the gloves, they threw the rubbish on the ground of the school yard. Mr Stanley and I took a moral stand and began picking the rubbish up. The youngsters were really happy that we were there and were very excited to be involved in the project. As we walked with the children through the streets, the locals appeared to be standing watching and laughing. We filled bags where there was rubber, broken glass, which was not safe for children at all. Once the bags were filled we took them to the skip. This was on a corner of a street with mountains of rubbish and junk all around. It felt like we were just shifting rubbish from one place to another. The children were inspirational. They got the message, they understood what we were trying to do. I believe they will teach their elders and over time, will make some impact. After we had finished, there were lots of speeches. Elias had arranged for the local radio to come and hear what he had to say. He had arranged for the children (whole school) to come on Saturday (this day) to spend time clearing rubbish. He is a very inspirational person. He doesn’t want money for charity, he wants action from groups of people all over the world working together to a shared goal, making a difference through education. After the speeches, we were invited to meet with the Headteachers (Trustees) of the school. The Headteachers were 3 women who had been widowed by tribal war. They had a mission to provide education for orphaned children, and children who were left fatherless due to the war. They raised enough money to open the school we were at today. I was incredibly humbled by these inspirational people. Again, they were not asking for charity or money, all they wanted was understanding, education, and peace. They have devoted their lives to their mission. These children here at this school are very, very happy and have incredible warmth and openness. A particular ‘lump in the throat’ moment was when I stood by a group of young children. They started to touch my arms and wanted to hold my hands. Their faces lit up and beamed with happiness. “You are my friend” they said.

 

After we had finished the ‘Clean-Up Kasese’ project, we walked to a café that had been recommended by Chris Lloyd. We arrived at ‘Café Jambo’ for a soda. We ordered our drinks and the café owner kept popping out and coming back with bags of bottles and fruits. We realised she had no electricity and had to go and buy everything we had ordered from elsewhere, bringing it all back in little black carrier bags. After our refreshments, we went to explore the Kasese Markets. You could buy absolutely anything here. As we walked around the markets we felt the excitement and tension from ‘Muzungu’ (white people) visiting with their money in their pockets. After much walking around, it became clear that we were being discussed by the stall holders which felt quite intimidating. One of our group made a quick purchase and we left before anything became more heated than it needed to be. We all met back again at the Jambo café before making our way home and back to Tembo for a very welcomed supper and more refreshments. Looking forward to a rest day tomorrow!

 

Mr Stanley writes:

I found today to be a difficult but ultimately successful day. After a couple of days of wondering whether it was going to happen or not, it was finally confirmed that Clean Up Kasese was going to happen. The first objective was to be at Kasese by 9.00am. We duly turned up for breakfast by 7.30am, but it soon became obvious that we weren’t going to be finished within 30 minutes. Eventually we left Mweya and reached Katunguru (25 minutes from Kasese) at 9.00am. We had to wait a further ten minutes for Yowasi to arrive on a boda boda (scooter) before we could set off again. It was at this point that things started to go really wrong.

We had agreed to go and visit the nursery school run by the wife of Joshua (the chef at Tembo) and thought that this was going to happen in the afternoon. However he insisted that it had to happen straight away as he had to get back to work and that it would only take 15 minutes. Reluctantly we agreed and we diverted our route to the school while the other bus carrying Mrs Green and the other girls carried on with the journey.

To some bemusement we discovered that we had been ‘bushwhacked’. We arrived to a massive reception with a full assembly and all the friends of the school present. There was no way that we were going to be finished within fifteen minutes! My phone was soon ringing with the occupants of the other bus wondering where we were especially as we had all the bin bags and disposable gloves needed for the operation. After the 15 minutes I had no option but to make my (embarrassed) excuses and deliver the equipment. The children who were involved with the operation had been waiting patiently and some were as young as two years old. They displayed a lot of enthusiasm for the project and did a great job in the hour available. Mrs Green and I helped distribute gloves and held binbags. The reaction of the locals was mixed; some were very grateful, others laughed.

After the clean up finished I had to make a speech thanking Elius (the organiser) and the children. I thought that Bea and Liz from our group did a terrific job in getting publicity and equipment ready for the event.

I spent most of the afternoon with Yowasi doing little jobs. I had to pick up a modem for Kyambura Primary (the new twinned school) and also buy competition prizes for the children at Kafuro who had entered the design a moth competition. We had also been invited to visit Ramathan at his new house. I met his wife for the first time and she made us a lovely meal of goat stew and matoke (green bananas). Ramathan was watching a violent Mexican soap opera dubbed into American English on a Ugandan TV channel. It was totally bizarre!

 

When we drove back to Mweya it was clear that everyone was very tired. However, tomorrow is going to be a rest and recovery day.

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2 Responses to Uganda 2014 Day 9: Clean Up Kasese

  1. Peter Coley says:

    Dear Heather,

    What an amazing experience you are having, I can tell you have fallen in love with the children. They have so much to teach us! It was Penny and Andrew’s daughters wedding on Saturday at St Mary’s. Eleanor married Simon and I was privileged to take the service, two lovely Christian young people with a strong desire to serve God.

    We can’t wait to see you again and catch up on your trip. We hope you have the energy and I know you will have the enthusiasm to get to the end. I hope the litter picking has a long lasting effect upon the children!

    You are in our prayers,

    Love
    Annie and Peter

  2. Henry Green says:

    You’re almost VIPs ?!?!

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