Uganda 2019: Day 7 – Teaching at Rihamu

I have has many fantastic days as a teacher over the last 20 years. Today was definitely another.

I awoke feeling excited. My first day teaching at Rihamu Primary School. As I boarded the bus for the hour journey to Kasese, it felt like the first day in a new job. Excitement mixed with a little nervousness. Rihamu is a special school. It has that amazing ‘something’ that is hard to put in to words. The warmth and friendliness makes it the perfect match for Hambledon.

I shouldn’t have been nervous. My class of 32 pupils were incredible. We were learning about the UN ‘Charter of the Child’ and thinking about what children need to grow up leading a healthy and happy life. The children began by drawing around a friend and giving their ‘child’ a name. Nick and Andy were very popular names after CM Sport’s visit last week.

The children needed to then populate their drawing with concrete and abstract examples of the requirements for a healthy lifestyle. The level of debate was high as children discussed the importance of good sanitation over health care (Abigail argued that health care was more important as not all diseases are caused by infected water) and others thought that education was not essential as shelter or clothing as it wasn’t necessary to survival. Shakilah will deliver the rest of this unit exploring children’s rights under the UN Charter as well as their responsibilities to the community.

As part of the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms Project all the units of work will be taught to children at Rihamu and Hambledon. One topic examines the impact of flooding in both communities. To help me teach this back in England, Shakilah took me out to the Kilembe Mines to photograph the impact of the 2014 flooding. When the river Nyamioamba burst its banks, the whole community was destroyed. Homes were washed away and over 30 people were killed, their bodies washed to the bottom of the Rwenzori Mountains to be recovered in Kasese. Photographing the damage caused by this natural disaster was a very sobering experience.

Back at Rihamu, the staff had once again prepared a generous lunch of bean stew and rice, followed by fruit. The pineapple in Uganda is very tasty. The break was also a chance to discuss with Shakilah her expectations of the UK (she is visiting Hambledon in March 2020 to help me teach the pupils of Hambledon) and the cultural differences between the UK and Uganda.

After lunch I was delighted to represent Hambleon; (The Cradle of Cricket) and teach about 40 Rihamu pupils the wonderful game. They quickly picked up the rules and entered into a game with a competitive spirit and enthusiasm that would put England’s defeat in today’s First Test to shame. Shakilah bowled me a few unplayable ‘Doosras’ (her arm was definitely bent) and one boy didn’t let taking a ball full in the stomach slow him down. Well done Rihamu. You did the cricketer s of Hambledon proud.

I finished the day joining in with the girls playing netball, until the bus came to collect me. I left Rihamu, hot, tired and dusty but also really happy that I had made new friends. The day was topped on the return through Queen Elizabeth National Park. We saw about 60 elephants, in three herds, up close. In one herd, the two male giants were helping the younger elephants across the road. Just like when we take pupils across Church Lane in Hambledon, the two ‘staff’ male elephants were blocking the road like Lolly-Pop men, as the younger ones walked in a line between them. An amazing day.

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