Uganda Expedition 2017

The Withington Uganda Expedition took place during half term in October 2017.  Eleven pupils and Mrs Clark, Sister Lees, Mr Parry visited the special projects in Uganda for whom they have raised funds and collected donations of items such as sports kit and shoes. Over the last four years, Withington groups have provided material and practical support to schools, nurseries and refuges for street children. Thank you to everyone who donated – your generosity created much joy and excitement everywhere we went.

Mrs Clark or the girls sent a diary entry for each day.  The most recent post is at the top of the page. 

Sunday 29th October

The group were all sorry to leave Uganda where they all fell in love with the country and its people. The Uganda team of 2017 really do hope to return before 20 years is up! 

Saturday 28th October

Today’s blog is from Neha

On Saturday morning, we woke up at sunrise, ready for a four-hour game drive (luckily the excitement stopped us from feeling too tired). Split into two trucks, we travelled across the Uganda forest and saw kobs, pumas, hippos, giraffes and elephants. Big cats are a rare find in Uganda, but we were lucky enough to a lioness and her cub hiding in bush away from the sun. Milly, aka our personal photographer, managed to capture incredible shots of animals most of us had never seen before. Aside from the bumpy ride and getting covered in red dust, sitting and chatting on top of the truck was an amazing way to witness our surroundings. We even arrived back after the drive to music and dancing, which Maya and Janani were quick to get involved with!

Refuelling with lunch back at the campsite, we headed out for the river cruise in the afternoon, ready to see some more of Uganda’s animals. Our tour guide kept us interested with information about our surroundings, as well as some history of the country, which (in true Withington style) led us on to debates and discussions throughout the afternoon. By the end of the cruise, we had made a promise to the tour guide to return for a reunion in twenty years. The day was an incredible experience, seeing sights many of us had never seen before but this didn’t stop back at the campsite, as we had a face-to-face encounter with a hippo roaming around!

Friday 27th October

Today’s blog is by Maya, Neha and Anna

We had an early start with a long 7-hour drive ahead of us. We entertained ourselves by playing music- Mrs Clark was particularly surprised by our interest in 80s music.

Once we finally arrived at the Murchison Falls National Park, we set off on a challenging hike in 30-degree heat, sun cream and sun hats at the ready. Being resilient Withingtonians, we reached the waterfall in record time, and were mesmerized by the glistening, glittering, glowing waterfall that stood before us. Having worked up an appetite, we were ready to get to the campsite and demolish our foods. Overnight, none of us became prey to the warthogs, but a certain hippo took a liking to Mr Parry in the night!

Thursday 26th October

Today’s blog is by Maya, Neha and Anna

On our last day in Jinja, we enjoyed a brunch in the centre of town as well as some last-minute shopping. We then all got back on the coach for a three-hour drive to Red Chilli Lodge near Kampala. During the drive, we spent most of the time sleeping, but we also observed the changes outside as we transitioned from Jinja to the metropolitan area of Kampala.

Once we arrived at Red Chilli, we had some down time- with wifi!!- and many of us used this to catch up on school work- and we even managed to FaceTime our families 🙂

Wednesday 25th October

Today was spent at the Home of Hope, a home for severely disabled children. The children loved playing with the bubbles we brought and we also brought sensory and other toys for these unfortunate – but very well-cared-for children.

Then it was a short bus journey to Jinja Connections. This is a day centre for street children aged 8 to 20 where they can wash, eat and attend lessons.

Tuesday 24th October

The whole group have composed a poem for today!

Waking up briskly to start the day,

Team Teen got an offer from Kings hooray!

Arrived at Wanyange Girls School,

Ugandan’s own WGS,

We made dream-catchers and chatted,

But their dancing was certainly the best.

After the entertainment was over we were ready for some tasty food,

Rice, potato and chick peas successfully satisfied our mood

Our time at WGS was coming to an end,

So we said our goodbyes to our new Facebook friends,

The bus was ready and raring to go,

But a final game of jenga, we couldn’t say no!

Our final stop for the day was Jinja Sailing Club,

After 3 days of being disconnected we had found a wifi hub.

The sunset was “BEAUUUUUTIFUL” but eventually the sun was gone,

And top it all off, university offers, we got “ANOTHER ONE”






Monday 23rd October

The blog today is from Jasmine & Ella

We returned to Glory Be Nursery prepared for a day of activities starting with ‘shakers’ for the younger class. Trying to teach 60 children whilst overcoming a language barrier was difficult to say the least. However it soon turned out that the real challenge was to tackle 120 children armed only with paints and paper plates. Nevertheless, the smiles on their faces were definitely rewarding!

In the afternoon, we were treated with tasty traditional Ugandan lunch which consisted of rice, beans and the local green vegetable, similar to spinach. For dessert we bravely tried some fresh Jackfruit which evoked mixed opinions …

Refuelled after our short rest, we engaged in our final project at the nursery which included various artistic projects. We re-painted the coloured pillars and designed two murals influenced by the theme ‘day and night’, accompanied by Maya’s ‘International👅👅🔥’ playlist! Overall, the hard work definitely paid off as the kids were fascinated by the new additions to their school, which added a gigantic burst of colour to the courtyard.

Afterwards, we entertained the children with a rendition of every single British nursery rhyme we could think of and left them with memories never to be forgotten.

A 10-minute drive in the midst of the Ugandan countryside, led us to a beautiful sunset river cruise along the Nile, where we enjoyed a peaceful journey which was a great wind down to our day. We spotted some Ugandan Fish Eagles and a rare sighting of a man bathing in the middle of the river.

All in all, we had an unforgettable day and cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Sunday 22nd October

Today’s blog is from Mrs Clark

Amassing all the donations and items for today took some time but the bus arrived (on time!) and we set off for the baby orphanage. As it was Sunday they were all at church so we joined them. Church is a tarpaulin in a field but we were soon clapping and joining in – in fact we ended up being in the spotlight when we were passed the microphone to introduce ourselves. Mr Parry’s ‘I don’t usually go to church’ bit created a murmur amongst the congregation but when he added that he supported Manchester United he almost received a standing ovation! (he is really a genuine Hyde FC supporter!) We wandered back to the orphanage, had a guided tour and then played lots of group games with the gorgeous children there. It was hard to say goodbye.

GIASCO proved to be the usual fun-filled chaos starting with tie-dye tee shirt crafts led brilliantly by Gaby who had spent time investigating what RAM the computers were (she is after all, Team Technician) . This was then followed by an obstacle / sports comp organised by Maya (Team Entertainer) which involved sack races, egg & spoon races as well as a chaotic limbo dance under the rope and the over & under rugby ball. This was then followed by a game of volleyball with far more than the usual number on each side. As the evening drew in the songs and dancing began with some strange renditions of Head & Shoulders and ABC mingled with various Justin Bieber songs. Great day followed by takeaway pizzas!

Saturday 21st October

Today’s blog is from Mrs Clark

After a quick money change at the bank we headed to ‘Whispers’ children’s hospital. This was a new addition to the usual itinerary but was such a good one to make. The atmosphere was so welcoming and full of fun from the rather bright murals on the wall to the sparkly stickers on the faces of the workers there. Basic it may be but it was so clean and the smiles on the faces of the young children and babies plus their mothers made it such a memorable place to go. We spent time asking questions about this hospital which offers massively reduced-price treatment to sick children. The doctor was very easy to talk to and very forthcoming with information. We then wandered into Jinja town for lunch and a spot of retail therapy.

After a tasty lunch and with every colour and design of fire pants purchased, we set off for an afternoon of basketball with street children and also many who come from the slums. Everyone enjoyed it although – phew – it was very sweaty work! A couple of hours of study, relaxation followed before we set off for a Mexican meal. Mmmm… service was certainly interesting as was the to-ing and fro-ing which we guessed was for all the ingredients they had not got!! WHEN the food arrived, it was very tasty indeed.

Friday 20th October

Today’s blog is from Mrs Clark

Breakfast done and dusted the group set off for Glory Be Nursery in Buwenda for Sports Day. Over 200 under 6-year-olds were all lined up when we arrived at the sports field – actually being immunised at the same time! There were four teams – red, green, yellow and blue and our team divided up to join each one – WGS house tee shirts came in very useful!

The competition began although many of the children were a rather bemused! There were several usual races – running, egg and spoon, sack race, musical chairs then we had balloon popping (sitting on them) and a very strange race involving drinking water, running 20 metres with it in their mouths and depositing it in a wine bottle at the end! The child who filled the wine bottle first won! Somehow we couldn’t see that taking off for WGS Juniors!

There was lots of cheering and dancing as the crowd of spectators grew. This day ended with a bottle balancing event with parents involved as well as four of the girls – Laura, Gaby, Lucy and Jasmine. I’m afraid Withy did not perform to their usual winning standards – their heads were clearly not constructed for this! The final race of all the Withy Team was won by Mr Parry with Gaby and Louise coming second & third.

The whole event ended with a meal at the school of rice, meat, spinach & peanut sauce and a guided tour where we saw the staff quarters for which we had raised funds already constructed, if not complete.

The staff quarters now require windows, doors and internal plastering. It will provide accommodation for six members of staff who live too far away and are living in rented accommodation which the nursery school pays for; this will, therefore, save them money. This work will be completed in the next few weeks, leaving the Uganda Team 2018 to pay for power, ceilings and a separate toilet block.

Leaving the nursery we had an hour or two before going to The Keep restaurant for a late tea. Arriving, we found a concert being set up and were thus serenaded as we tucked into a selection of burgers, wraps etcetera!

Wednesday and Thursday 18th and 19th October

Today’s blog is from Mrs Clark

The journey to Entebbe was long but smooth (apart from turbulence on approach to the airport). Visas and passport control was very efficient and luggage was awaiting us on the carousel – many with ‘heavy’ labels attached! Mr Parry and I sorted the money change – and came away as millionaires! There are 4,000 Ugandan shillings to one British Pound and we changed approximately £1000, so do the sums!

Somehow more than 14 big pieces of luggage, plus our Uganda Team of 14, plus an assortment of Ugandans were squeezed into a minibus to set off on a three-hour journey to Jinja.

Arriving at the Busoga Guest house everyone was keen to change, shower and just be there! Tea / supper was at 2friends restaurant and certainly perked everyone up!  We all fell into our beds gratefully and got our first sleep in Africa!