Blog time again

Our day off last Monday was a great chance for us all to gather our thoughts for another week at school after our great weekend away. Most people used it as a chance just to see more of the city going up to the Namirembe Cathedral or hitting the market…
From Tuesday onwards everyone was busy as usual. For us at Children’s Corner it was a pretty momentous week as we finally got the painting started. We figured that with limited time left in the schools left it was pretty vital that we got it going so stepped over the funding hurdle by buying it ourselves. Our first layer of base coat is up and proudly on display. Still a long way to go with only 16 days left to get it all done…let’s not panic yet! On top of the paint excitement we have been able to get going with extra English lessons for some of the kids, particularly those from Sudan and then a couple of keen P4s. All amazingly exciting!
Work at Kiti is continuing strongly and this week on Thursday we had a riot of an evening with three of the teachers who came over for dinner, Godfrey, Josephine and Rose. We introduced them for the first time to pasta (NOT pastor) and it was great for the rest of the team to put faces to the names we’ve heard so much about.
Glory work also continues to go well with a newly created netball pitch and more importantly a hugely successful 08 Bible Club session on Friday with Jon going through the parable of the paralytic. The netball pitch comes at great time as both Kiti and Glory are training up the ranks for their epic footballk and netball matches against each other scheduled for this Friday.
Today’s Saturday street kid session went well. It was a fairly challenging counselling session where there were some difficult things to hear but it was clearly important that it could be done. Tomorrow morning Sarah is doing a talk to them on Luke 14 v 15-23.
A highlight of the week, certainly for the guys, was the Uganda vs Libya football match at Mandela Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. Our Children’s Corner Cnnections within the Ugandan football scene meant that VIP treatment, not having to pay a thing and being seated among various ex-Uganda players. The 1-1 draw was somewhat a poor show on Uganda’s part but it was a great time had by all nonetheless. Tom even managed to infiltrate another Uganda media by getting his face on the news (much to the school kids delight!).
For me this week has certainly been a highlight, it’s a shame I can’t convey more of it in writing, but hopefully this has given you all a taster! This morning saw the arrival of Giles Witchell (last year’s team leader) so this coming week will no doubt have a few new and exciting variations to fill you in on next week. So until next time, I hope everyone reading this is well. Everyone says ‘Hi’ and sends their love to you all! Becca

11 On Safari

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

Happy Easter from all of us,

The beginning of this week we said goodbye to Chris Ashton after his week long stay with us. He had had brought with him a glimpse of home and lots of fun including trying to kick the rugby ball clear over the house and his own brand of volleyball. He certainly helped us to be reminded of all the cultural differences that make Uganda so interesting which we had become almost used to. He helped us to see life in Kampala with fresh eyes again and was very refreshing to have him around. We spent the Monday at the edge of Lake Victoria in Entebbe’s stunning botanical gardens and the world most laid back bench. We left him at the airport, which was strange to be back at exactly halfway through our trip.

This week the work in schools is progressing further with bible clubs and prayer meetings in the schools starting to gain momentum. Guys from Kiti and Glory are organising both netball and football inter school matches for later in the term. John has become quite the strict coach and has spent days selecting a fit and capable squad. Teaching is going well. Kiti had an Irish group from fields of life came to Kiti during the week. The guys found it very strange to have other white people at their school leading activities with the children. Also Col/President Gadaffi visited town this week from Libya to open the new mosque in Kampala which looms over the landscape a top of one of Kampala’s hills. The journey into school for the children’s corner guys was different as many roads were closed we had to get a taxi into Kampala then walk through the closed streets, due to Gaddaffi giving a public address. It took over two hours instead of the usual 45 minutes into school. The streets were filled with eerily silent Muslims flocking to hear the address, very strange to see Kampala like that.

Easter weekend has been a change from the usual celebrations any of us have. After a change of plan we made a seven hour journey to Queen Elizabeth national park. Seeing the landscape change dramatically to flat expanses in contrast to Kampala’s rolling hills. The weekend has been a great one; we made several game drives around seeing hippos, Ugandan Kob, warthogs Hyenas, water buck buffalo and even a female lion munching on an unfortunate kob. We also saw elephants from a distance. On Saturday we also had a boat trip down a channel between Lake Albert and Lake George. There we saw large schools of Hippo and even catching a few yawning. We also say a few Nile crocodiles and buffalo herds along with these really funky little pied king fishers. Lunch was interrupted by about forty mongooses running riot in the restaurant. All in all it was a great trip even with the rather confined sleeping quarters, tents. Listening to the wildlife around us including the odd hyena was great. I did have a close call almost walking into a rather large spider in the dark luckily I shone a torch in that direction t reveal the huge web and arachnid I was about to plant my face into!

Prayer requests this week. Further progress in all the little projects taking place in each school. Like the teacher prayer meetings at Kiti and the painting at Children’s corner. Also I would ask for a prayer for patience when our plans at the schools do not happen as we would hope and that we would not get frustrated when we are unable to see much progress. I think one main prayer point is that as we start to look into the latter weeks that the time left here would be spent wisely we will be able to start to see great progress in all that we are involved with out here. We would like to thank again all who are praying for us whilst we are out here.

Sorry this is quite abrupt it has been a very busy weekend but hopefully you have a flavour of the past week.

God Bless,


The latest news

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, save me!”
Psalm 116: 1-4

I don’t think I prayed so much as I did last Monday! I was thankful I wasn’t doing the bungee jump for every second that they were. It must’ve felt so unnatural throwing yourself off a tower jutting out over the Nile, although some seemed more confident than others….. unfortuantly our video footage doesn’t capture their expressions but the screaming gives it away! Sam went first and even went for a submersion into the Nile at the bottom which Tom did too (Tom was last to jump). Jon was next and was the only one who went feet first…. he was all over the shop and even flipped upside down at one point. Sarah was first from the girls and couldn’t stop talking the whole time she was getting ready. Becca looked like it really didn’t bother her and said she felt very relaxed as soon as she’d jumped (?). Rosie screamed far louder than anyone, but Freya screamed on and off every time the rope slackened!

Ruth, Dave, Mark and me were saving our energy (and our nerves) for the white water rafting…. I said I’d never do this again.

The team split into 2 groups (boys and girls) which seemed a bit crazy at first considering all the energy paddling takes out of you, but I think the girls proved themselves…. Most probably helped by the fact our instructor was far more experienced than the boy’s instructor.

We had 2 girls from Winchester join us and the boys had 2 Americans join them so was nice to meet some new people.

I think what us girls will remember the most was going backwards over a 3metre waterfall, and beating the boys by managing to paddle across a current to enable us to go on a grade 4 rapid instead of a grade 3…. Hmmm, don’t think we thought that through properly do you? We were all celebrating when we’d crossed the current when suddenly we saw the rapids looming towards us and only then wondered why we had been so desperate to go down that one! We envitabley flipped over and quite a few of us were under the boat for a bit = not such a nice experience although there is an air pocket right in the middle… if you can find it!
For the last rapids, I opted to go in the safety boat (with big oars to balance it and a guy called Tutu (??) who is a bit of an expert). I’ve been down these rapids before and knew what was coming… also they have named it “Washing machine” which I would say describes it perfectly.
The boys went down ahead of the girls so I managed to see them both go through and no one fell in… except our instructor Jeffrey who did a cheeky backflip out of the boat when he knew they were through the worst! What was funny was the girls reaction when they noticed he wasn’t in the boat and they couldn’t see him anywhere! ;)

I’ve decided that I’d far prefer to row/canoe down a river without any crazy rapids ;) The best time of the day was just after lunch (which we had on an island in the middle of the river), when we took it very easy as there were lots of flat areas of water. The currents were still strong enough in places to take you along, so we jumped out of the boat and got carried alongside the boat! Because of our lifejackets it was possible to lean back and not do any work…. officially one of the best time of my life.

I don’t know how the others made it through school the next morning…. Well, Freya did confess to catching up on a bit of sleep between lessons ;)
Also, Mark went off to the airport before breakfast to pick up Chris Ashton who has come to visit us for a week (Chris works with Mark back in the UK). So this week we have done a lightning tour of the 3 schools so Chris can see them all… on Wednesday we went to Kitti in the morning (and heard a very clear evangelistic talk from Dave to the older kids), and then Glory for Education in the afternoon. I won’t write any more about Kitti this time as I did that last time I wrote a blog entry…. So I’ll tell you about Glory and Children’s Corner (which we visited on Friday morning).
We turned up at Glory just in time for lunch (having ordered in advance as we know their food is the best… masala potatoes and red beans). The kids aren’t quite as crazy at Glory, maybe that’s because there is less of them. The school is slap bang in the middle of no-where. The minibus struggles to get down the road (even with Paul’s expert driving) because of the crazy gullies that have been formed by the rain…. If it rains too much the dirt becomes an impassable mudslide so Freya, Sam and Jon have sometimes had to walk part of the way.
Communication with the other teachers has noticeably improved and the team are obviously getting on really well with Jessie the DOS (Director of Studies), Agnus the teacher for primary 1 +2 (together!) who doesn’t stop smiling and is very willing to stay in the class to translate, which the younger years need), and Felix (the teacher for primary 4) who’s favourite phrases are “isn’t it?” and “look at this one, he is stupid”.
I sat in on a music lesson with Freya as she taught P2 how to sing “Old MacDonald”, “Twinkle twinkle little star”, and “One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Once I caught a fish alive”. She wrote the words on the blackboard and then got the kids to read through the words with her first, then she sang each line of the song and they had to repeat it back to her (this was repeated a few times as they didn’t know the tune at all). Then Freya would give us the first note on her flute which we then laaaa’ed back to her. We soon found out that when we asked them to sing loudly they almost screamed it, so we got them to start off laaa’ing quietly and then crescendo’ing on the same note. Freya asked me to help out with this bit, but I must’ve subconsciously risen up on my toes, elongated my fingers and widened my eyes with each crescendo, as when we got the kids to copy they all did exactly then same back to me…. Slightly embarrasing! ;)

After having exercised my vocal chords, I was all set to learn some more amazing facts from Jon’s lesson. Last time I sat in on a lesson of his I learnt that the Nile is 695km long and it takes 3 months for the water at the source to reach the sea… how much of a swot am i? They are used to learning through repetition though so I couldn’t really help but remember it…. This time though I wasn’t so lucky as I only caught the 2nd half of his English lesson where he was only marking books! Sam’s SST lesson (“SST is social studies, it teaches us more about ourselves and our surroundings!”) taught me that East Africa is made up of 3 countries (Uganda being the smallest), then Kenya, and Tanzania being the largest. Paul informed me on the way home that Rwanda and Burundi want to become part of East Africa too… something to do with not wanting to speak French…. still, would it open the floodgates to a whole tidal wave of other countries wanting to join East Africa? Would the continent become lopsided and fall into the sea???

Friday wasn’t a very typical day to visit Children’s Corner as they had a sports day going on at another school which we joined for the afternoon. Because of this though, some of the teachers had left their classes unsupervised – so Tom took the initiative of setting up a debate for all 3 unsupervised classes. The 1st topic was “Are boys and girls equal?” which made for a heated debate but not particularly well thought out points! The 2nd topic was “100 years ago vs. modern living” which I think they had learnt about as they came up with some really interesting points…. We learnt that people used to cut their hair with stones, and instead of phones they used to communicate with drums! At the same time Becca and Ruth took an RE lesson (which I have sat in on before but didn’t go in this time as the kids get very easily distracted by new people).
The director (who is a government minister aswell!) got her driver to drive us to the sports field where some of the kids from Children’s Corner were competing against about 6 other city schools in an athletics competition. What was disturbing was that even when the kids fainted due to exhaustion/the heat/lack of food (as they didn’t eat lunch until 3:30) …or all of the above, they were patched up and sent back onto the field to compete again. What I didn’t see but Becca was telling me later, was that the kids who didn’t compete weren’t allowed food at all…. Even though they were all told they had to attend.
They did quite a number of races, but also javelin, shot put and high jump. What was funny about the last 3 was that before each one they’d give them a quick lesson/recap of how to do each event… as they prob don’t have the equipment at their own school or have any chance to practise it.

Anyway, eventful week, lets hope this weekend is calmer ;) We’re off to Murchison Falls next weekend so we hope you all have a fab Easter if we don’t speak to you beforehand!


Week 5

Time is flying – this is an update on what we have been up to in week 5 of our trip! I (Ruth) hope I can give you a little taste of what we have been up to:

Monday, being our day off, was a trip to Entebbe to sit by Lake Victoria and (in a truly English way) eat a picnic! Some of us decided to go to a Wildlife Educational Centre which sounded brilliant – they saw loads of different animals and got some amazing pictures and videos of monkeys. I’m sure you will all get to see them on our return. Apparently the rhinos were so close to the edge of their enclosure that the guys could reach them and there was a very sleepy lion which didn’t move the whole time they were there. You would think they were the dangerous animals but the group came under attack from a far smaller creature – termites! After a bite or two (poor Sam and Freya) the group got away.

The rest of us (who didn’t go to the educational centre) wandered through Entebbe to the Botanical gardens and found a bench to sit on whilst eating lunch and enjoying the amazing view of Lake Victoria through the trees. We also wandered through the trees and saw black and white monkeys with their babies – our first up close view. It was so tempting to go for a swim as the lake was so beautiful but sadly that wasn’t possible as none of us wanted to catch Bilharzia!

Tuesday meant back to school. We all had exciting weeks planned:

Children’s Corner had a girl’s football tournament on Friday and they managed to lose two matches, win one and draw one which isn’t bad considering the first time the girls had played football was the day before! Julia came in to Children’s Corner with us (Becca, Tom and Ruth i.e. me) on Tuesday and got a great response from the kids – they were so excited to see her! It is incredible to see the excitement of the kids- they love to just sit with you or involve you in their games. Tom was off school on Thursday and Friday being sick which sounded nasty - thankfully he is better now. The kids in his art class all made him get better soon cards with messages like ‘I love you teacher tom’. They missed him a lot! I think they will be thrilled to see him on Tuesday. We asked our Headteacher if we would be able to start up a bible group for the older kids during a lunch hour and she seemed pleased with the idea so please keep this in your prayers.

Glory for Education was great this week. It was really good getting to know the kids better and to develop some awesome relationships. We have also been chatting to the teachers more which is great. Most of the week the school has been building up to the athletics competition, including seventeen laps of the football pitch in the middle of the day! Jon, Freya and Sam have been hacking into the tuck shop and the doughnuts which are absolutely delicious.

Kiti had a great week for new things! A teacher fellowship/ prayer group has started as has a bible club for P6 and P7 – Rosie, Sarah and David were very encouraged at how keen the kids were. Also they had a sports day which had a great atmosphere with lots of cheering and chanting and children went nuts with the camera!

On Thursday we had Prossy, Michael and Robert over for dinner. It was great to get to know them better. After dinner Robert played the drums whilst Prossy and Michael taught us how to do two Ugandan dances – The Calypso and another traditional dance involving a lot of bum shaking! It was definitely an amusing evening where we all ended up giggling! I think we all need to do a little more practise to be able to dance them in the way Prossy and Michael can!

We have found a back route down to Makindye and wandered down on Friday night after dinner. Friday is the market day and as it was dark everything was lit up by candles – it was very beautiful and a little strange to see ladies sitting in the dark trying to sell fruit and vegetables by candle light!

On Saturday half the team went to Calvery Chapel to teach the street children. We taught them practical things like how to wash their hands properly and how to make sure water is ok to drink. It was great to just spend more time with them and get to know them a little better. There was about 30 kids there which was really good. Friday night didn’t happen this week as Andrew (our contact at Calvery Chapel) was still organising it with the kids home (Tigers) so please keep this in your prayers as it was great when we last went and we would love to get properly stuck in.