Emily's trip was organised in partnership with DFID, for more information about how these International School Partnerships visit the DFID Discovery Zone.
Sunday & Monday
We arrived in Entebbe at 8.30pm and drove to Kampala for an overnight stay before the 4 hour drive to Masindi. The drive was very strange, lots of new, modern buildings and then a corrugated iron shed housing someone's shop - the poverty was very clear.
On the way to Masindi we learnt that the road has a hierarchy of power, where the bigger vehicle had the right of way, in every situation!
I notice a lot of companies, such as MTN, Zain, Uganda Telecom, all of which are major mobile providers. It soon became clear that everyone had a mobile, or 3, and I found that even those who were very poor were linked to the rest of the world via a mobile.
Most of our group stayed at the Hotel Victory Bijja and were fed at New Court View Hotel - owned by Sallie, a shareholder of the partnership. Here we had mainly English food. But we had plenty of cassava, matoke, jackfruit and sweet bananas at Ikoba School.
We met everyone at our link school - Ikoba Secondary School - a very welcoming group of staff and pupils who gave us pet names, mine is Atorque, and performed some songs for us. I sat in on art and religious education lessons, both of which were very interesting and different from their counterparts in England.
Spent the day at Ikoba again, sitting in on a biology lesson on different kinds of worms and presenting the Senior One's with information about St. Mary Redcliffe and Bristol. We also showed them a slideshow of the recent snow, which they could hardly believe!
I took bike puncture kits and brochures about Bristol that Redcliffe's year 7 geographers had made. We all brought a pile of Redcliffe/Ikoba calendars for the staff and lots of special Redcliffe/Ikoba certificates to reward the pupils with.
There was a lovely hailstorm and thunder, which brought the temperature right down; making all of us Uganda newbies feel a lot better!
Caitlin and I spent the morning sitting with pupils in their free lessons under a tree. We talked about general school things such as lessons and what boarding was like, one boy asked, very poignantly, if England had the cure for AIDS. We asked them about general teenage life in Uganda - which has huge differences but some surprising parallels.
In the afternoon we had a trip in the back of a pickup truck around Kinyara Sugar Plantation. This was quite painful and I think I'm still paying for it! Our tour guide, Mr. Fox, owns a lot of land himself and sells his sugar cane to the Kinyara works. He hopes to go into business with 4 other farmers to make a rival (but Fairtrade) sugar works to ensure fairer wages for their own staff. Mr. Fox also has cows, donkeys, geese, chickens, and has a huge banana crop. Faith, headmistress of Ikoba, told us that she had heard that morning on the radio someone describe Mr. Fox as a "man of the people" - which shows how important and conscientious he is. For our evening meal, Mr. Fox invited us to his home nearby. Upon arrival we found that the Canon of the local Cathedral and the Councillor for Ikoba was present, which proved to us how important our visit was for the whole Ikoba community, not just the school.
We spent Friday at Court View Hotel with Faith and another teacher, Rose, and we filled out an evaluation form for the organisers of the link as well as present our thoughts and feelings on the link. Caitlin and I spent the day in our African outfits that Ikoba School had generously given us the day before. We were told we looked very smart and Ugandan, which was lovely to hear.
In the evening we were treated to a Ugandan style dinner with drummers and dancers to entertain us. We all joined in, doing some free style disco and African dancing.
On Saturday we visiting the Murchison Falls National Park and went on a 3 hour boat trip up the Nile. I saw wild African Elephants for the first time, something I have always wanted to do. We also saw a chimp, baboons, tropical birds and different types of deer. This trip was a treat for our group but the time to think solidified how important our visit was to all the link schools in Masindi.
We had a lovely meal in the Sambiya River Hotel and discovered lots of Geckos in our rooms.
We rose at 6 a.m. in order to catch the dawn chorus of the weaver birds and then had a 2 hour drive back to Masindi.
We had a dusty 4 hour drive back to Kampala and another hour to Entebbe. After 30 hours of travelling, I was greeted at Bristol International by my Dad, Sister and nephew, who didn't fail to show me his new teeth!
All in all the trip was amazing, I met some lovely people in Masindi and Ikoba and have learnt how other Bristol schools have benefited from the link, just as Redcliffe has. I really hope that Redcliffe and all the other Bristol schools can keep their link as we all have learnt so much and have a huge capacity to learn so much more.
I'd just like to say thank you so much to the Diocese of Bristol who helped fund my trip - I am so grateful I was given the chance to go.