Uganda Expedition Blog 2016
Eight pupils accompanied by Mrs Clark, Mrs Williams and Mrs Khan went to Uganda in 2016. Their blog is below – most recent posts are at the top.
Sunday 23rd October
Mrs Williams writes:
Here is the last blog post from Uganda as we fly out tomorrow!
Today we travelled back from the national park to Red Chilli Hideaway near Kampala. The journey was long but the coaches were very quiet; I think we may have finally tired the girls out!
After arriving back at the hotel we had a quick lunch and then an afternoon full of relaxation. This was much deserved after all the hard work the girls have put in and our long days of travel. The girls enjoyed the pool, even when it started raining heavily!
We ended the last evening in Africa with some awards given out by Mrs Clark before our meal. I won’t share any details, but some embarrassing moments may have been re-lived!
It’s been an absolutely fabulous trip. The girls have been amazing and I think we all feel fortunate to have been a part of the Uganda 2016 team. Another travel day tomorrow; we will on be route to Manchester soon!
Saturday 22nd October
Here is the safari blog from the girls! A few more pictures have been added, (Monday 24th October). No hippos, but a very nonchalant lioness!
The day started bright and early (but actually dark and VERY early at 5:30am). We collected our packed breakfasts of samosas, sausage rolls and an egg and were on the buses again by 6:30am. We then got a ferry to the other side of the Nile and began our safari. We had the goal of seeing elephants, lions and giraffes and we were not disappointed. It was like our nursery painting had come to life (except the rhino wasn’t there because they’re extinct in the Murchison national park). One group pulled up very close to a couple of female lions- the males are ‘too lazy’ to come out. It was amazing to see how much the animal world mirrors the human world. The other group got friendly with an elephant who walked right in front of our bus. We were only slightly scared as our bus got stuck in the mud again, but our driver James luckily got us out! We also momentarily lost our tour guide, Silva, after James drove off without him, but his frantic waving manage to catch our attention. Other sightings included many families of elephants, buffalo and a dead kob being eating by vultures.
The fun really started when we found out we could sit on the roofs of our jeeps. It was slightly painful but worth it for the views and the breeze (don’t worry parents it was safe). One rule was that you couldn’t put your shoes on the seats in order to get up to the roof. This resulted in Isobel losing one of her boots in the middle of the African savannah. We like to think that a giraffe is now walking around with one boot on.
After crossing the river on the ferry again (having to wait for multiple Ugandan school trips to go before us) we went back to the camp for lunch. We then had some free time where most of us had a much needed nap.
It was then time for our river boat ride. We were told by our guide that we would see a multitude of hippos and we were certainly not disappointed! We also saw many birds and crocodiles (who live for 150 years!). We met a very friendly British boy from Birmingham on the boat who was there on ‘something like’ a gap year for 2 months. We really bonded over those 4 hours. We also bonded with the sun (some more than others) and we’re all feeling quite pink (like hippo milk!). We also met another boat full of young men who stopped our boat for a considerable amount of time whilst they bought beer off it. Despite our requests they would not buy us any. However this meant we were saved from the angry exchange as our captain and the men disagreed about how many beers they had paid for!
After the boat we returned to the camp for tea and were saved by Mrs Williams from a massive beetle. We then played cards and retired to the banda. We are currently in the banda listening to tunes and fearing for our lives as a hippo could appear at any moment.
To update from our previous post: we have had no phone calls from any of the Jinja boys but we have not given up hope.
Friday 21st October
We’ve been on safari and haven’t had any internet or service since Friday morning! Here is Friday’s blog post and the girls are going to be writing up Saturday’s …
An early wake up and breakfast before our long drive today. We left Red Chilli Hideaway at 7:00am in two Safari vehicles. The long drive included stops at some questionable toilets, a biscuit/fizzy drink stop and a final stop at a lovely gardens for our packed lunches.
We finally arrived at Murchison Falls at 3:30pm. This was a fabulous opportunity to take a little hike and stretch our legs. We also had our first animal sighting of the Safari…a hippo! Unfortunately it didn’t look that lively; we hope to see some more alive hippos tomorrow! Our guide was very helpful in explaining the history of the falls and showing us spots to get the best photos.
Following our hike we had another short drive to our safari camp. Here we settled in our accommodation (the girls are very happy with their bandas!) and then had our tea.
We are having a very early night As we need to be up and ready to go on our game drive at 6am!! Excitement levels are high!
Thursday 20th October
(a bit later on)
Lots of pictures have arrived! Please see our slideshow below. Pictures include GIASCO, Glory Be School, Home of Hope and Wanyange Girls’ School.
Thursday 20th October
Just a few pictures through this evening – hopefully there will be better wifi at Red Chilli Hideaway!
Mrs Williams writes:
We left Jinja today and are currently finishing up our dinner at Red Chilli Hideaway just outside of Kampala.
We had another early start and got to Glory Be Nursery nice and early to finish up our mural. The girls all proved to be very artistic and the jungle mural turned out beautiful beautifully! After finishing painting, we waited an hour for our bus (the driver was on Ugandan time!) we went back into the town centre for lunch and a little bit of last minute shopping. The girls all showed impressive shopping skills and proved to be able to shop decisively and very quickly!
We then got back on our bus to travel from Jinja to Kampala. The journey was miraculously quick. After arriving and settling in some girls went swimming and some teachers did a bit more shopping!
We’ve just finished our dinner and we are getting ready for another early start tomorrow; we must be packed and ready to go for 6:45am to begin our safari!
Emotional singing on the bus ride home from dinner last night.
Wednesday 19th October
Dear Readers – sorry to say the Uganda wifi has not been up to transferring the pictures form the school camera into the Google cloud , so no new pictures today. But Mrs Williams’ emails are getting through and here follows the story of how the Uganda group spent their day on Wednesday. (written on Wednesday night)
We’ve had another fabulous day here in Uganda!
After breakfast at our guest house we hopped on our coach and drove to Wanyange Girls’ School; a WGS in Uganda! We were welcomed by the headmistress and taken on a tour of the school by the deputy headteacher. This is a boarding only school for girls that houses 900 pupils. The grounds were expansive and it felt like a very peaceful place. The girls at the school were very nice welcoming and interested about our life in Manchester. We were all excited to see monkeys swinging off the roof of the school…quite different from the squirrels we see around WGS in Manchester!
The Withington girls were fantastic; it was lovely to look around the room and see small groups of Withington girls and Wanyange girls chatting. Some were teaching each other ukulele and others were showing photos on their phones; a true cultural learning experience. We brought all the supplies to make bracelets with the girls and everyone seemed to really enjoy this.
After our craft we went out to the grass and different girls from Wanyange showed us some cultural dances. We were all very impressed and Mrs Clark even put on a grass skirt and had a go (photos to follow!)
We then had our grand musical performance. Although it wasn’t the most polished piece, the progress we made over the last few nights has been impressive! The ukulele/recorder ensemble played Somewhere over the Rainbow and then we had a group singalong, teaching the girls from Wanyange My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean. All of our rehearsals paid off!
We had a tasty lunch in the headmistress’s office and then took some photos with some of the items we brought for the school. These items included included games such as chess and scrabble, netballs and mini whiteboards. After a few photos we were back on the bus and on route to our guesthouse for a couple of hours of downtime. Naps were enjoyed by many!
We ended our evening with a lovely meal at the sailing club. We just caught the sunset and had a beautiful photo opportunity followed by a delicious dinner. The bus ride home was filled with singing and music; this seems to be a constant on our trip!
It’s our last night in Jinja tonight and with no musical performance to work on it may be an earlier night in order to be ready for our day of finishing up the mural at the nursery, a bit of shopping and our journey to Kampala.
I was just about to send this blog update when a storm started … Thunder, lightening and tons of rain followed by a power outage means for an exciting end of the evening as well as a lack of wifi!
Tuesday 18th October
The girls have decided to do a guest blog post today and give Mrs Williams a day off ! The arrival of the pictures is still slightly behind the words, so so scroll down to see the pictures from GIASCO now inserted into Sunday’s post. Mrs Berry has kindly sent some delightful pictures from Glory Be, within Monday’s post, but pictures for today have not yet made their way down the internet pipe. No doubt they will arrive eventually!
Today was a day filled with fun. It started with a trip to the bank. We walked in with £40 and walked out as millionaires! (We didn’t rob it we promise). Then it was a short bus journey to Jinja Connections. This is a day centre for street children where they can wash, eat and attend lessons. It started with a tour of the facilities and then we introduced ourselves to the children, who ranged from the ages of 8 to 20. We also noticed two not-so-friendly familiar faces, two Dutch girls staying in our guest house. More to come on this later. We then proceded on making baseball caps which included one made by Godfrey (the Ugandan teacher) featuring a very detailed depiction of the Ugandan coat of arms. We then went outside to take a picture of the hats which of course led to a selfie session. Some boys even asked for our numbers to be written on their arms. We’re anxiously waiting for any contact. – we will keep you updated on the situation.
After saying our goodbyes we journeyed into the centre of Jinja for lunch at the Source Restaurant. Milkshakes were enjoyed again. Lunchtime also provided an opportunity for shopping with purchases including trousers, salad servers, and a Christmas tree decoration. We returned to Glory Be nursery for a short-but-intense hour of continued painting – we’re not yet done but the rhino is looking great! Only four more animals to go! After a nail-biting journey where the bus tipped near 75 degrees over a ditch, our final activity of the day was a visit to the Home of Hope, a home for disabled children. The children loved playing with the bubbles we brought, and we had our first gig playing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. The reception was great. Josie had fun with one little boy who repeatedly tried to kiss her, and Isobel was led off by a boy who really wanted her to let him into the bus… We left as the children were eating their dinner of posho; we were very jealous as we have been told many times (not by Mrs Clark!) that it is a must-have delicacy.
We drove home with the tunes still blasting thanks to Isobel’s ‘bangers’ playlist and Hannah’s speakers. When we got home we found the Dutch girls, who were also staying in our guest house, watching Grey’s Anatomy. We think there’s tension between us because they lodged a noise complaint against us- we can’t imagine why! We’re hoping to make friends so watch this space.
We are currently at the Java Cafe again, a big hit because of its luxuriously thick milkshake and almost adequate wifi. Lightning is flashing and we think we might see our first Ugandan storm.
Tomorrow is performance day, or as we like to call it, ‘D-Day’. We’re hoping for a warmer reception than from our Dutch friends.
Monday 17th October
Another fun-filled day in Uganda! We had an early start and a busy day.
We arrived at Glory Be Nursery for 9am and were welcomed by many excited children! Glory Be Nursery is unique in Uganda as it has a classroom for children with special needs. As soon as we got off the coach we were immediately taken to a classroom that had the youngest pupils and the children with special needs. We brought play dough and some of the kids had never seen it before; they really enjoyed making shapes and bracelets with it!
Next we went to the classroom with oldest children and created some animals with felt tips, wax crayons and lots of sticky foam shapes. It was quite funny as many of the shapes ended up on the children’s faces instead! After a break time filled with songs and circle games we went to the third classroom. Here, the kids decorated and then wore animal shaped masks. Some were wearing them long after the lesson was over! Each class at Glory Be had at least 60 children in it; very different from our classes in England!
School in Uganda starts early and finishes at noon. We said goodbye to the kids and the girls got right to painting the base coat of an outdoor hallway of the school. They did excellent work and fully earned their lunch of rice, beans and avocado. Many of the girls really enjoyed their meal and asked for seconds!
After lunch the hard-working girls started on the mural. It was a team effort and all the staff were impressed with how well the girls worked together. We will go back to finish the mural later in the week.
We then had a quick drive to our boat cruise on the River Nile. After quickly washing our feet in the sink we hopped onto the top level of the boat to relax, have some nibbles and enjoy the spectacular views.
We’ve just finished our day with another musical rehearsal; the only way is up! We are all tired and happy after our very full day. I think the girls are looking forward to a bit of shopping tomorrow!
Sunday 16th October
Here is Mrs Williams’ report for the group’s first full day in Uganda. No pictures have arrived ‘in the cloud’ for the visit to GIASCO yet but they’ll be added when the technology catches up.
We had an a amazing first full day in Uganda; jam packed but so much fun! We started the morning with a light breakfast of fruit and toast at our guest house.
We then hopped on the coach for a very short journey to Sonrise Baby Home. This is an orphanage for children from newborn to seven years old. When we arrived, most of the children were at church, so off we walked to church to collect them. It was so fortunate that we got to experience a bit of a Ugandan church service whilst holding these adorable children!
After church we went back to the orphanage to sing, dance and play with the babies. The Withington girls (and staff!) loved this and some were reluctant to return the babies and get back on the coach!
We had a lovely lunch at a modern, new coffee shop in Jinja; milkshakes were again a hit!
In the afternoon we went to GIASCO residential boys’ home. GIASCO is an acronym for ‘Get Involved with African Street Children Organisation.’ Boys from the streets can stay here to get off the streets with the goal of them entering the community with their family. (Withington Alumnae Liberty Bridge and Olivia O’Malley [2009 leavers] were instrumental in helping to establish GIASCO. They had been in Uganda on a gap year when they had come across boys – many of whom were orphans – living rough on the streets, some, sadly addicted to paraffin and were determined to help.)
The entire Ugandan team had so much fun this afternoon. We felt so welcome and at ease. We had brought baseball caps for the boys to decorate with paint. After the painting of the caps it somehow turned into a game of painting; adults and children were chasing each other on the grass with paint brushes full of paint!
Next we played volleyball and the boys presented their impressive dancing and nail-biting acrobatic skills to us. We finished off our time at the home by sharing a meal of rice and beans. The girls were sad to say goodbye and simply buzzing on the coach ride home.
After lukewarm showers to scrub off all the dirt, sweat and paint, we are about to sit down for some hot chocolate and biscuits and to practice our recorders…more to come on that in the next couple of days!
Saturday 15th October
As I write this the Uganda team are tucked away in their beds at the Busoga guest house in Jinja. We are all exhausted from a long day of travel but thrilled to finally be here!
We left Manchester airport on Friday evening. After being told repeatedly by Mrs Clark that our luggage shouldn’t be underweight, as we have lots of items to give away whilst in Uganda, we were all a bit nervous! Josie was the winner with her case weighing it at 29.4kg…very close to the 30kg limit!!
We first flew to Dubai and then with no time for shopping or resting quickly hopped on our next flight to Entebbe. After making it through immigration and collecting all our luggage (no lost pieces!), we made our way out to the coach.
The 30 degree weather was a welcome change after the last couple weeks of grey in Manchester! We drove from Entebbe to Jinja and the traffic was awful! We were so happy to finally arrive at the guesthouse and only had a quick 30 minutes to freshen up for dinner.
We had our first proper meal at Two Friends Getaway. Pizzas, burgers and samosas were all devoured but the hit was definitely the milk shakes at the end of the meal!
Straight to bed after dinner all ready for our first full day in Uganda tomorrow!