In October six students from Park School went to Uganda to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity. In conjunction with the North Devon charity Amigos, we travelled to Kira Farm. This is a training centre which provides vocational education for young people that have missed out on schooling for a variety of reasons. Kira Farm has approximately forty young Ugandan trainees a year, all of whom have grown up in severe hardship. Many of the trainees were previously child soldiers for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Others are orphans who had to leave school to look after younger relatives. At Kira Farm, these young people acquire the vocational skills, conservation techniques and the self-confidence to turn their lives around.
During our visit, we interacted with the Kira trainees on a daily basis. It was an eye-opening opportunity for the Park Students, in which they experienced life in a different culture and some of the hardships associated with Uganda. They also learnt about global injustice and how we are so privileged purely as a result of where we were born.
Whilst we stayed at Kira Farm, we helped the trainees to build two water capture containers for the surrounding villages. One will hold 5000 litres of water and the other one will contain 2000 litres. These will enable a supply of clean water every day for hundreds of local people. Previously young children needed to walk for miles before and after school to collect (sometimes dirty) water in 20 litre containers. Can you imagine a Year 7 carrying 20 litres of water twice a day? Some of our students struggled to pick the containers up.
On our second day in Uganda it was Jack Tighe’s 16th Birthday. We went to a performance of traditional Ugandan music and dancing. Jack was fortunate enough to be invited onto the stage and presented with a birthday cake, which was then shared with the entire audience after approximately two-hundred people sang Happy Birthday to him. Jack then joined in with the African drumming!
Towards the end of our trip we went north to a town called Masindi. We travelled to Murchison Falls National Park to go on safari. We went on a river safari, cruising up the river Nile towards one of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls. Within the first 5 minutes of the river safari we saw a big Bull Elephant, which was less than 10 metres away from us. It was amazing! We also saw lots of hippos and crocodiles. It was an early start the following morning because we needed to catch the first ferry (7am) to go on our Game Drive. Here we saw Giraffes, Hyenas, Antelope, Elephants, a variety of Birds, Monkeys, Warthogs and lots of other animals.
On a more serious note, one of the reasons that we went to Uganda was to visit the tree planted in memory of Miss Bluett. She was dedicated to supporting Amigos for many years. We took a plaque in her memory to go with her tree. (Thank you to Miss Brierley and Andy Cockbill for making this).
Our final day was emotional for the trainees and our students, as no one wanted to come home. We have only mentioned a snapshot of our two weeks in Uganda as we could not possibly fit everything that we did in one newsletter.
Finally, thank you and well done to the students involved. Everyone who worked with us commented on how brilliant and polite our students were and they were a pleasure to be around. These six students are a credit to themselves and our school.
Overall it was an excellent and thoroughly enjoyable experience for all who took part, both staff and students. We had a lot of laughs, some amazing food and an incredible time!
Hopefully see you soon to start preparing for Uganda 2017!
Miss Wadham and Mr Ratcliffe.