Year 12 Summer Trips
September 5th 2016
While they were away the students at Kira wrote a blog, here are some of the entries to give a flavour of the trip:
Monday 18 July – First full day in Uganda
This morning, we woke up to the sound of drums and singing as the trainees on the farm carried out a session of Devotion. After breakfast the leaders spoke to us about the farm, the people and culture of Uganda. We were taken on individual tours of the farm by the trainees, who have a lot of knowledge of the plants and crops they grow here and many of us came away knowing how to identify different fruit trees and eating large chunks of sugar cane. After lunch, we were taken into the village to see one of the water pumps that Amigos had installed which is a clean source of water for a thousand people living in the area. We were also shown their original water source which was a small dirty pond that animals also drank from. As we walked back to the farm we were welcomed by the children who waved and ran alongside us, it was lovely to see the enthusiasm and happiness that we were received with! Once back on the farm, the trainees put on a performance for our group. We learnt about the meanings and the culture behind each dance including a warrior dance and a marriage dance. The dances were full of energy and fun and most of us were pulled up to join in with the singing and dancing. This performance was unique and a lovely welcome onto the farm, trying to follow it will be very difficult! Finally for dinner, we were very honoured to be served a special fish called the Nile perch, a dish that is normally eaten once a year here and usually at Christmas! A lovely meal to have ended a very exciting and fun first day!
Tuesday 19 July: Into the village – House building
Today a group of 14 of us walked to a small village nearby to start building a house for a woman in the village, she had lost all four of her children to AIDS and now lived with her grandchildren. In the couple of days we have been here we have seen lots of different styles of houses, this one was built in the 60s out of mud. The first thing you notice is that it was clearly falling down; the thought of an elderly woman bringing up six grandchildren in a house with bricks missing and the roof falling down was shocking to us. However it was clear she was so grateful for us being there and doing the little we can to give her a better way of life. We definitely threw ourselves into the task, within 5 minutes we were knee deep in mud mixing it with the water, we had to move all the mud with shovels and hoes which was exhausting and then dig in the foundations with a pick axe. The Ugandan way of doing things is very different and building is no exception. Everyone was getting stuck in all at the same time showing great teamwork and the pace the house is coming together is really encouraging. It was a hard day but topped off by Noah giving a Polaroid to the lady and her family which was a lovely moment. I look forward to going back tomorrow, getting equally as muddy but helping a woman and her family find a better way of life.
Thursday 21st July 2016 – Meeting sponsored children.
Today was the day that I had been most looking forward to: getting to meet our sponsored child, Veronica. Each of the four Amigos children that Hockerill sponsor are sponsored through an Equipe and Brunel sponsor eight year old Veronica, allowing her to attend school and for her family to ride a bicycle to get food and water. This morning we journeyed to her school first and took turns to sing songs with her small class. Break-time took us outside where we viewed the tiny lean-to kitchen where they were preparing a 'porridge' of maize flour, sugar, and water for the children to drink. For many it would be their only meal of the day. When the children came out our students helped dole out a small cup for each of them and, once they'd finished, played with them: distributing gifts such as stickers and balloons and blowing bubbles for them to catch. It was a joyful experience for all the children and students, especially to see such happiness on their faces. After break the children of the school sang and danced for us and, one by one, got us to join them dancing.
We then visited Veronica's home. Her family had a fire last year which gutted their house and they are now renting one room just next door. The family of eight have to live and sleep in that one room barely big enough for three beds. With the help of Hockerill and Amigos their roof will be replaced and they should be able to move back within a month. It was saddening to see such poverty, but they were so grateful for our help. Visiting Veronica also gave our four Brunel students and staff a chance to give her a few gifts of stationery, books, stickers, toys, and a pair of flip-flops.
Having previously written to her and sent presents, it was so nice to finally meet her and to see the change that we have been able to make to both her family and the wider community, and I know that this visit will stay with me and firm my resolve to help her as much as possible in the coming years.
Head of Brunel
Saturday 23 July – Village feast
Today we took a four hour bus journey to Masindi, where we met Jennifer, Da Vinci’s sponsored child. We then had to be at the village feast by four o'clock. We were greeted at the entrance by a parade of children, dancers and musicians, who followed our buses in procession to the village centre. The dancers then performed an incredible routine with different outfits. We then had a performance by the children of the village who were extremely confident, they were able to sing and dance just as well as the adults. One of the highlights was a song where, one by one, each child sang a solo and called our names to dance with one of them. We were all put to shame by the kids’ talent. They wouldn't stop smiling and neither could we. The performance was followed by an amazing feast, to name a few of the specialties: plantain, millet bread, chapati, beans, peanut sauces, potatoes, rice and cabbage. We all went for seconds! After dinner the children pulled us away to dance with them as the sun was setting.
Monday 25 July - Safari
We stayed the night at the Red Chilli rest camp. After initially being greeted by warthogs, the only wildlife we encountered was bats and geckos. The food was good and it was lovely to watch the sunset over the River Nile. After a hectic evening, waking early was a struggle at 5:30 am but we were rewarded with a beautiful sunrise over the magnificent River Nile. We got an early morning ferry across the river to the northern bank where the game drive started. The drive through the wilderness lasted about 3 hours. We saw giraffes, warthogs, hyenas, mongooses, lemurs, elephants and the crested crane bird. One of the highlights of our drive was how close we got to the lions. We were extremely lucky to be within meters of the great beasts. Before our return crossing of the Nile we had the opportunity to hang out with the baboons. Once we were back over the river we had to begin the drive back out of the nature reserve and back to Kira Farm When we got back to Kira (after an 8 hour journey) we were pleasantly surprise to find that the trainees has cleaned all our shoes very thoroughly and changed our sheets. It was lovely coming back to Mary's delicious home cooking. Now it's time for an early night.
At the end of the first week the students all sent a short note home with their thoughts so far, here are just a few:
Mia: So far this trip has been so amazing - the people are so friendly and welcoming. Meeting the sponsored children was the best bit so far especially seeing all the primary school kids and getting to spend time playing with them.
Magalí: This has been the best experience in my life so far, I enjoy every moment of it and I am learning so much about their culture and about the people here. Everyone is being so nice and friendly that they make me feel like their home is my home too.
Raffi: The past few days I have spent here have taught me more than I would have ever imagined, mainly through the trainees. It's refreshing to see that despite the trauma they've experienced in their lives, they still manage to value the important things in life.
Josh: With every passing day I have become more aware of the substantial differences in living standards found in this country. The local people welcome everyone with genuine friendliness and hospitality- a nice change from home. Looking forward to what the rest of the trip has in store.
Kirsty: This trip already has been so much more than expected. The people we have met have been so lovely, Kira is amazing and the activities have got us all involved. But also have been shocked by how much people have had to go through yet how strong they are now. Really looking forward to the rest of the trip.
Olivia T: Kira Farm is incredible, the people it helps benefit so much from the work this place does. Everyone here is so lovely and welcoming, mum you'll be so proud, I go to Devotion every night. Everyone sings and dances and prays it's such an amazing atmosphere, I know you would love it. I've washed my own clothes and even eaten rice, what progress.
Gaia: This place is incredible; all the trainees have been very welcoming and nice with us. I think this is the best trip I've ever been to, everything is so different than what I'm usually used to, I'm doing so many new things. You won't believe me, but this morning I've dug sweet potatoes for the entire morning!! I was so tired at the end, but what made me happy was that I helped the trainees with their work. Every evening I also go to devotion, it's so different here! It’s not as in a normal church, but everyone dances, shouts and it's so fun.
Harry: The people here are overwhelmingly positive and welcoming which is so refreshing. We have spent a few days here at Kira and done various farm based work, including cutting trees to feed goats at 6am, harvesting sweet potatoes and today managing the football team in their match against the trainees in the local village. I also attended devotion a few times which is the form their Christian worship takes here in Uganda. I hope everybody is well and look forward to getting back on Instagram when I get home Xx
Milly: Kira is so much better than I could have imagined. It's been so cool to see how the trainees are young people just like us and that we are actually very similar. I never thought church could be so fun, the Ugandans know how to have a good time. I'm learning the acholi language and how to play the bowstring. Atimabe
All three trips provided our students with amazing experiences completely different from anything they have done before; they are all extremely grateful to all the staff who made it possible – and would definitely urge the new Year 12 to seize the opportunity to go next year if they have the chance.
Posted at 12:24 on 5th Sep 2016