Day 7 - Wednesday 12th July

Our Day 7 - Wednesday 12th July report is written by Thomas.

After a few days' delay, finally, it was time to begin our individual teaching programmes. The breakfast table was a bit more settled in the morning but no less positive as we readied ourselves for our lessons which we were told began straight away at 9 o’clock. Then we realised it is Africa, so of course, our lessons were not ready to be taught at all and some of us had almost 40 minutes waiting; unsurprisingly I was one of those who was the last to be shown to the teaching rooms.

Yet after the wait, all the lessons started and the nerves began to settle as we realised that we were all very much capable of this challenge put ahead of us. I personally found that the positivity and warmth of the students spread right through me and made the teaching so much easier. However, it wasn’t all plain sailing... Did we really think it would be? I ended up with seven students instead of the six which I requested, and Elsa ended up with seventeen instead of six, but being Elsa, she managed to deal with it brilliantly and in the end, no one had any bad words to say about their lessons. In fact, some of us (including myself) somehow managed to end up teaching for over an hour! After this first lesson, the anxiety for the future lessons settled and it was replaced with excitement for these upcoming 30 minute (supposedly) sessions.

Closely following the lessons, we HDS students and the prefects of the Vision School went to collect water at a nearby water point. Honestly, I felt quite embarrassed as this was perhaps one of the more tiring things I had done in life yet we were barely doing a quarter of the effort that our Ugandan friends would have to do so commonly. The Ugandans would have to take two 20 litre jerry-cans each - we had either 1 or 2 x 5 litre jerry-cans. Ugandans could walk for hours to collect water maybe even twice a day - we went to the nearest water point which was 30 minutes away yet we were all knackered! I still feel good that we got a taste of Ugandan culture, even if it was only a slither of what they do. This was also a chance to really get to know our friends from the Vision School. I spoke with a girl called Charity who believes she will live and study in England when she is older (she is 18 years old) and she wishes Ugandan marriage would work like the English way of marriage; she has no plans of getting married and is a strong willed, intelligent lady. A lady I was very lucky to get to know.

What followed was an experience which would stay with us for many different reasons. We visited the local Kisoro health centre. A government health centre which was clearly a place in need of help. Some of the help, however, could not be offered through funds but was the fault of their beliefs. For example, a poster shown through the centre seemed to encourage circumcision to prevent HIV and the use of a condom, which we know is the main way of preventing HIV, was emphasised very little but this is what they believe and for me, I found it quite sad because the correction was so easy yet seemed so distant. Many of us were really, really moved by this as suddenly, what we had seen on the TV through things like Comic Relief became a reality and it sunk in that this was only one of thousands of struggling health centres throughout Africa and however much we do, there is always another corner in this continent which will be struggling. Despite this, we still wanted to do our bit and improve the quality of this health centre in the little town called Kisoro.

We were shown one of the two ambulances which this health centre owned that was out of use due to mechanical problems and they could not afford the repairs. We were told at first that the sum of the repairs was 1 million Ugandan shillings which equated to just under £250 a sum which if we all chipped together, was very achievable. We told of our eagerness to help get the ambulance back on the road and soon the chief of the hospital was called over so we could make this donation possible. The chief soon came and told us that the sum would be 20 million Ugandan shillings. 19 million more shillings than we were initially told. Of course, this donation was well out of our reach but what was more of a shame is that something didn’t add up. We thought about the sum of 20 million shillings for a while and realised that the repairs they needed (an oil leak repair) would never cost anywhere near that sum. Either the chief was tragic at maths or he was corrupt and we knew which was more likely. This is another thing that we knew happens all over Africa and we know that as much as we want to help, these people like the chief will always leave some place in a worse off situation for the better of themselves. This conversation left us with a sour taste in our mouths but the experience was very beneficial and gave us a great view into how Uganda works (or maybe doesn’t quite work).

I must say I am missing the washing machine. We all did our own hand washing with cold water and powder and let’s just say some did better than others! Don’t know what the weather is like in England, but our washing dried in 30 minutes!

All the best to you all, from Thomas.


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