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Day 19 - Monday 24th July

Our Day 19 report for Monday 24th July is written by Jess.

Today was our final day in Uganda and saying our last goodbyes was bittersweet. For most of us, we were looking forward to going home, seeing our families and not having to tuck a mosquito net under our mattress before we go to sleep. However, I think I can speak for everyone when I say that it has been the most incredible trip and saying goodbye to such an amazing country was always going to be difficult. We have met so many lovely people and seen things that cannot be described in words and I think we will treasure these memories forever.

After eating breakfast together at the safari lodge we shared our final thoughts with each other and reflected on the trip. Then we packed our suitcases and left for Rwanda. As we were driving through the National Park to leave, we spotted an elephant just five feet away from the road. I cannot believe how lucky I am. I am only fifteen years old and I have seen things that some people could only dream of seeing. To see so many wild elephants in just two days was absolutely breath-taking and to be able to say that I experienced it all with some of my best friends is truly an honour. The fact that I am quickly running out of superlatives to describe how I feel and what I’ve seen gives you an idea of just how difficult it is to express the scale of what we have experienced in words. Today we got the chance to tick yet another thing off of our bucket lists. On our way to Rwanda we went to the equator and had the chance to stand in both the northern and southern hemisphere at the same time. Unsurprisingly, it was very hot at the equator and we took lots of pictures to share with you all when we get back.

Today was fairly easy going compared to some of the days we have had and during the trip, I have often found it difficult to take everything in and cope with the emotions I have felt towards what we have experienced while being so far away from home. It has been such an emotional rollercoaster. We have laughed together until our stomachs hurt and made friends for life but there have also been times where I have just sat and cried because I don’t understand how or why the world is such an unfair place. I’ve often been left feeling frustrated and coming to the realisation that actually getting help to where it is needed most and avoiding getting caught up in corruption is extremely hard is difficult to handle. However, we have done what we can with the time and resources we had.

The journey gave us lots of time to reflect on the past two weeks - almost eleven hours of time. We always knew the journey was going to be long but none of us expected Rwandan border security to decide to search through all (well nearly all) of our suitcases and our hand-luggage too. The whole palaver took almost two hours and it has to have been the least thorough and most pointless bag search in the history of bag searches.  They made us remove all of our suitcases from the roof rack and then proceeded to search through them and ask us to get rid of all of our plastic bags as polythene isn’t produced in Rwanda and they don’t want it disposed of there. I partially understood the reasoning behind this but what threw me was the fact that Bryony and Thomas had exactly the same Asda plastic bag in their suitcases and Thomas was told to get rid of his whereas Bryony was told she could keep hers - their suitcases were searched by the same person. As our hand-luggage was searched first, many of us just moved the plastic bags from our suitcase to our hand-luggage before they were searched too. Not only this, but Mr Royle’s and Aidan’s suitcases weren’t even searched. Mr Royle took his off the roof rack and before it was searched someone had already put it back on top and Aidan’s was never taken out of the mini-bus. Lots of people had plastic bags that weren’t found in their suitcase and there were three sat in the front of the mini buses the whole time. I was left baffled by the whole thing but I guess we were a group of fifteen ‘muzungus’ in bright yellow t-shirts crossing an African border and maybe the point of the exercise was more to prove a point than anything else. Anyway, enough ranting about pointless bag searches. Ultimately, we arrived safely and in one piece after getting caught in traffic in Rwanda for nearly an hour following our incident at the border. Returning to the hotel Nobleza felt oddly like returning ‘home’ but it was also a reminder that we would actually be home very soon. Our globetrotting has very nearly come to an end.

Hopefully, we have made everyone back at home proud and I also hope that we have made a difference to the lives of just some of the people living in poverty in Uganda; we have met so many people who deserve so much more than they have.  As naïve as it may sound, I wish I could change the world. I’m just a teenage girl from a small town in a small country but I want to change the world. I might never be able fix everything that’s wrong with the world but I’m going to try to make at least some kind of difference.

During our travels I wrote a short poem that I think summarises my thoughts about making a difference in places like Uganda.

I wish I could change the world:

I wish I could change the world

There are so many things to change.

Fix each problem one by one

And put a smile on each person’s face.

 

I wish I could change the world,

No child should have to die

From malaria or malnutrition

Such precious, wasted lives.

 

I wish I could change the world,

Each child would go to school,

Get a decent education

And with their stomachs full.

 

I wish I could change the world,

Help the Batwa tribe

To be happy and to be healthy,

But they need the government on their side.

 

I wish I could change the world,

Have an unlimited amount of money,

To give everyone good healthcare

And food in their tummy.

 

I wish I could change the world,

No more walking for water

And no father should receive a cow

For selling their eldest daughter.

 

I wish I could change the world,

As it is such a beautiful place.

I suppose it is not the world that needs changing;

It is the human race.

 

And now that I know that it is us,

Who can make a difference

I realise that education is the key,

To giving people assistance.

 

Jess.

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