After a rather restless night last night, with a huge storm, I woke up feeling much better than yesterday. We headed to Tembo for breakfast where most of us had French toast to set us up for the day. Setting off at 10, we drove to Rihamu, spotting an elephant on the way out of the park.
An hour later, we were nearing Rihamu and Joffrey asked some locals to show us the way to the school. We arrived to a carnival style greeting with children lining the entrance, singing and dancing and wanting to shake hands with all of us. Nick and Megan got emotional as it was really overwhelming to see children so happy and excited to see just us. As soon as we were in, we were whisked away to look in all of the classrooms where the children warmly greeted us with enthusiasm and some had decorated their rooms with paper flowers especially for us. The rooms themselves had a chalk board at the front, wooden tables with benches attached which could seat 3 children, and a few posters on the wall to support the children’s learning. One class I entered, Primary 5 (P5), told me in their introduction that they ‘go to school to struggle for a better future’ which really pulled on the heartstrings. Another class, P7, told me ‘teachers are our parents at school, they care for us’ which I would hope children in England would have in common. I was given the tour of the school by a teacher called Roseta who taught the children my name as we moved around and was very welcoming. Her younger sister, Bridgette also worked at the school and was just as lovely.
Once everyone had seen the rooms and caused chaos by dancing, singing songs and getting the children hyped up (like Luke), the upper school walked to the pitch which was used for sports, not quite the fields the CM sports group were used to as it was dusty, extremely hot and not very even which was noticeable by the footballs rolling away! They started off with a game involving everyone (which was about 60 children) in which they stood in a circle and had to take turns in their pair running around to get back to their pair like a giant duck duck goose. There were a few rounds and I played with Bridgette which was interesting when we were both wearing dresses and flip flops and had to run around a huge circle and jump on each other’s backs! Whilst the boys organised the teams, Roseta asked the children to teach me the elephant song which they found hilarious when I tried but it would be a lovely song to teach back at Liss. Later when the school were organised into 2 groups posing rugby or football, I had the chance to talk to Roseta and Bridgette with Ashley, who works at Queen Elizabeth Country park and is also staying with us at Hippo House. We talked about our similarities and differences such as they’ve never seen snow but Bridgette has been to university. After a while, Roseta and Bridgette joined in on the football and Roseta was a great goalkeeper, organising her team before her throw ins.
When it was too hot and the games had finished, we headed back to school for lunch. Shakilah had organised a special lunch for us which included Irish potatoes, rice with vegetables, goat stew and cooked green bananas which tasted a bit like potato. We were discussing the children at Liss cooking Ugandan food in DT with Mr Stanley and they noted that they didn’t cook posho so Shakila kindly got us some to try as the children have it with beans for lunch at school. Once we had refueled, we visited the nursery where children stay at the school. It was quite hard hitting as we were told the children share beds as there isn’t enough space.
The final thing we learnt was to balance a bottle on our head as we have seen lots of people carrying things on their head in our time here. After lots of determination, I managed to do it – and then with dancing! It had got to about 3 o’clock and it was time to leave. We had lots of photos with the teachers and said some emotional goodbyes then headed back to Mweya.
On the way back through torrential rain, we spotted an elephant herd on the side of the road. The giant elephant was with some of his family including a baby one. Once across the road, they used their trunks to throw dust over themselves to dry them off.
We carried on down the road and went back to Hippo House for an hour to rest up before the daily pilgrimage to Tembo for dinner. I tried chicken and vegetables with chipati which was a bit like a stir fry. I didn’t think I would be hungry after our feast at Rihamu but I managed to eat a lot. Then it was straight to bed to get an early night before a delightful 5.30am wake up call for the game drive tomorrow.