Uganda 2016 Day Eight – Back in the UK?

This may seem a strange title to you but when we woke up this morning it was like we were back in the UK. It was raining steadily and consistently outside and it was cold by Ugandan standards. The first sign of potential trouble ahead was great big puddles everywhere.

As usual, we went down to Tembo for breakfast, but today there were armed soldiers everywhere ahead of the president’s meeting with his Congolese and Rwandan counterparts. Most of them seemed quite friendly and waved back when we waved at them. Although we didn’t realise at the time, all outgoing phone calls from Mweya were blocked, so security was obviously very tight.

When we left Mweya we saw the president’s car arrive with white quilted sheets draped over the seats. The president was already in the safari lodge having arrived late the previous night. Now the fun began. The persistent rain had changed the dust on the roads into deep mud in patches where there was no marron, and navigating them was a real challenge even in a four-wheel drive car. With the precious cargo of Mrs Green and Henry on board, I drove even more carefully than usual and eventually we got off the peninsula. I thought that we had now escaped the worst of it and the drive up to Kyambura seemed to confirm this: even though the road was rubbish at least there was a surface. There are two routes into Kafuro and I chose the one that I considered to have the better surface. BIG MISTAKE! After leaving a marron road we reached a mud track that would take us up the hill to the school. The rain had turned it into a quagmire, which would have been heaven for a hippo, but hell for me. The next thirty minutes was by far the most difficult driving I have ever done in my life, but somehow we managed to get up the hill, drive through more quagmire and make it in to Kafuro.

Yowasi was surprised to see us and genuinely impressed that we’d made it. Today was his birthday and I know that he loves all the Narnia films, so I had bought him the complete collection of the books. We marked his birthday in traditional Liss style by singing him ‘happy birthday’ and the CBeebies birthday song. After that we got straight down to business. Today Mrs Green was leading a baking lesson with P6: baking is part of the curriculum. She showed the children how to make scones in a clean cook stove. Ingredients had been a slight issue, but the results tasted delicious and the children loved them. It was great because the children really started to come out of their shells and there was a lot more banter. It always takes a while for Kafuro children to overcome their shyness, but when they do it is very rewarding. I was teaching one boy, Edgar, to wink and his attempts to do so was one of the funniest things I have ever seen.

When the baking was finished, we went back to meet the Kafuro women’s group. We felt that in order to be competitive with other local traders they needed to lower their prices, to which they readily agreed. Mrs Green and I also gave them a small sum of money so they could go and visit the Women’s Craft Collective in Katunguru and learn from them.

It was straight back to school where it was now dry enough to begin putting the second layer of cob on the oven. I started it and then the children took over. When it comes to practical activities, Ugandan children work quickly and efficiently.

We had beef and rice for lunch, but while we were still eating Stephen Birru, the District Education Officer turned up. Mrs Green wanted to meet him to set up a teacher training partnership with a focus on SEND. Stephen was very interested in this describing Mrs Green as, ‘an angel sent to me!’ Stephen was also fascinated by all the projects taking place in partnership between Kafuro and Liss, and told us how much the district values it as other schools can learn from Kafuro.

We spent a long time with Stephen so when we left school it was 5.30pm. The advantage of this was that most of the muddy tracks had by now dried out, so with the exception of one brief fright we made it back to Tembo far more quickly.

Tomorrow we are based at Hippo House for a meeting between Twinning Project teachers and Community Conservation Rangers.

 

And finally some answers to questions:

Mrs Pritchard, there is a map which could show all of our journeys, but there would be a lot of criss-crossing on it. Elephant trenches were dug around Kafuro, but their bees and chili paper help keep them away even more effectively.

Mr Burford, we will publish the photo of the savannah upon my return. As I’m driving all the time, Henry and Mrs Green are taking all the photos and they’re big files! It will be worth the wait.

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