Friday, 22 August 2014

Thank you and Farewell!

Hello everybody.

I have arrived safely back to the UK and this marks my last blog post. So, first a thank you if you have been keeping up with my life in Uganda every so often. It is still hard for me to believe that it has come to an end.

P.6 Class at breaktime.
As I said in my previous blog post, July was the time where I had to say goodbye to my Primary Six class. It has never been easy teaching up to 100 children especially with such a huge age range. My youngest in the class were 11 and my eldest were 16.  This meant that some had a pretty confident level of English and for others it was much harder. So teaching involved patience and perseverance! When I first arrived to start teaching maybe only three quarters of the class would listen and complete the work whilst the other quarter would be disruptive. I eventually won them all over by being “A very nice Madam today” to then be “Strict Madam” when they were not behaving well. I hardly ever raised my voice because I just sound stupid when I shout so I had to learn the skill of projecting my voice and silencing 100 children! I seemed to gain their approval when things didn’t quite go to plan – such as falling on my bum in the mud outside the classroom, occasionally getting my words in a muddle when teaching, a spelling mistake and drawing awful animal diagrams on the chalkboard that made me wonder if going on to art college is such a good idea... I feel that to them, because I’m white with “yellow hair and goggles” (goggles meaning glasses…) they thought I was someone very different to them so it was being relaxed and making a mistake now and then that made them realise I was just like them.
Teaching was definitely a bigger challenge than I first expected but well worth the effort and time. I am very proud of my class for working so well and their English has improved so much that I had a few people who live near the school telling me that the students actually talk to each other in English outside of school rather than in their local language of Rutooro. This is a huge step upwards as English is rarely spoken outside of the classroom. All aspects of their English improved and that is what I came out to Uganda to achieve.

Home Again.
The remainder of my time in July was spent at Home Again orphanage. We did art club endlessly! I even played a few games of basketball with the younger ones, which didn’t go too well as they refused to learn the rules and when I scored a goal for my team instead of celebrating they accused me of “stealing the ball.” I quickly learnt that it was better to not score goals and to just pass the ball on to someone in my team!

The penultimate week in Kaihura was when it really sunk in that we were leaving and that we would not be living in Uganda forever. That is when we all started to find each day very difficult on an emotional scale. The first time it sunk in was when I was doing art club. It was one of those days where I was on a bit of a short temper as it was one of the hottest days I had experienced in a while, the sun was burning us even though we were in the shade, the children were in a particularly hyperactive mood and had forgotten their manners so were up screaming in my face, “Bella! Bella! Paper! Paper! Give me paper! Bella! I want a pencil. Give me pencil! Bella he has my pencil. Belllaaaaaaa!!!! Paper! And me and me and me and me paperrrr.” So I was smiling trying to give out paper as fast as I could and eventually it calmed down and I had about 30 seconds to breath. We do art club on the steps outside the dorms as we have no tables, so I was sitting on the top step glaring at them all/ looking at them lovingly as I can be annoyed with them but I can never stay angry for long and I realised as high maintenance these children are in a week or two I am not going to have them in my life everyday, for every week, for another year… Then Margaret cut her toe on a stone and started screaming and Joseph stole Vincent’s pencil with lead to a few tears and a few firm words from me to resolve it and thennnn… I lost it! I gave the paper to Jodie (one of my Project Trust partners) to take over and had to go and sit at the bottom of the hill for a little while. People tell you about all the amazing people that you will meet on a year overseas and how the hardest part is settling in but no one emphasizes how difficult or emotionally scarring it is to leave!! And also how it tends to hit you all at once, not gradually. From then onwards, I think for all of us, every time we spent time with the children we were practically holding back tears.


Drawing.
What the children found difficult was that they were so used to having us around. We may have gone away for a weekend of the odd week or two in the holidays but we always came back. During my year there have been a few short-term volunteer teams and they have done really great work in Kaihura. When they were here, we suddenly become “old news” but when they left they would be waiting for us again. It was hard to communicate to the children that this time when we go away we are not coming back. (I hope to go back to Uganda but sadly it will not be in a week or two!)

Saying goodbyes to everyone in Kaihura really brought into focus how many friends I have made over the last year. Ugandan’s from my experience are not as free and open with their emotions as people in the UK so when some of our adult friends started crying it was the very last thing we were expecting!

For our last week in Uganda we went to Jinja to unwind and relax. Almost all of the Project Trust volunteers were there so it was really nice for us all to have a catch up.

Being back in England has been slightly mind-blowing.

Playing at Home Again.
All year I have mostly had to cook with only 8 ingredients – Pasta, rice, flour, oil, tomatoes, onions, cabbage and avocado. (A very exciting, rare find would be some green peppers, potatoes or a cauliflower!) So can you imagine how strange it would feel to me walking into a Tesco where there is food everywhere…

Two things I need to stop doing now that I’m back in the UK are:

1. Greeting strangers in the street.
I have come to notice that I will either be ignored or looked at like I’m scary when I walk past some one and say, “Hello! How are you?!”

2. Sitting on the floor.
In most public areas there are chairs available so I no longer need to sit on the floor. I also caused my friend some embarrassment when I suddenly decided to sit on the floor in the middle of Topshop…

------

My year living and working in Uganda has been phenomenal. I have met the most welcoming, caring, unique people that have become some of the best friends I shall ever have. Living in such a different country took a while to adjust to but has been such an irreplaceable experience with many challenges but I have learnt so much from it. I went out to Uganda hoping to give as much as I could to the people I would be working with but I did not realise how much Uganda and its people would give to me. Every hardship I faced would be made up with many more positives. I have come home feeling like I have achieved more than I thought I could and knowing that I have left something very good. It has been so satisfying watching my class grow in confidence with their English and on a more personal level watch the children grow up at Home Again orphanage. They have been the best of friends to me and it was heartbreaking to leave them.

I have also watched the charity Bringing Hope To The Family expand. It is a fantastic charity set up by a wonderful lady called Faith who always kept an eye out for us over the year. It consists of Home Again Orphanage, Hope Again Medical Centre, Hope Academy Primary School, Village Art (Cafe, Workshop, Craft Shop, Bridal Boutique and Hair Salon), a vocational school and the Bringing Hope To The Family Offices. Without Faith setting up this charity which started on 5,000 Ugandan Shillings (£1.25) there would be a lot of homeless, unloved children. So I would like to thank Faith and everyone who works for Bringing Hope To The Family for all their inspiring work.

Please check out their website for more news:

Another charity I have witnessed excellent work from is Know Think Act. It works directly with Bringing Hope To The Family and has been a great sponsor for them.

Please check it out if you'd like to learn more about their work. - https://www.knowthinkact.com/home


Thank you to everyone who has read my blog posts. I hope they have been interesting and given you a detailed account of my year. I've had a fantastic year!

Love Bella. (Amooti.) xx

Monday, 28 July 2014

Last day teaching at Kaihura pink Primary School.

Class photo with P.6. 85 but still missing a few!

Gave lollies out for my last day.

Playing hangman at a rainy breaktime.

Rainy breaktime.

Saying goodbye.


My time in Uganda is coming to an end and it is my last week in Kaihura at my project. So on Friday I shall be having to say goodbye to the most wonderful friends I have made out here. Just thinking about it makes my eyes water and on Saturday I had to get up and leave my Art Club at Home Again Orphanage for a few minutes to compose myself! It will be so difficult.

I have not written out a blog post before typing it up which I prefer to do or I forget to include things... So I'm going to keep this brief and in August I shall type up a big conclusive blog.

The photos above are of my P.6 class. On my last day there were 85 pupils which was not my full class. 85 is quite an easy number to manage!

It was such a wonderful day. My class sung me songs, I gave out lollies, we took photos, the headteacher said some lovely things about me too. Then as a really special surprise my class had all saved up to buy me a beautiful bag and a necklace which meant so much to me. The whole day made me realise (probably for the first time out here) that I have been out here for quite a long time!! It was odd hearing the words, "Thank you for being a teacher for one year." My life here is so busy all the time that I have never really had the chance to stop and let what is happening around me sink in. So this was the day where it did sink in and I thought of all the work I have done this year, the good times and the difficult times and I felt very proud and very loved by everyone.

I shall write again soon but hope the photos are enough for now!

Love Bella.
Amooti
xx

Sunday, 29 June 2014

June update.

Hello!

June started off as an incredible month. I went with quite a few other volunteers to the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Kampala to watch Uganda play Madagascar. In true African style (which is being late for everything) most of the fans turned up at half time! But when they did all arrive the stadium was nearly full. The atmosphere was unlike anything I have ever experienced. Every Ugandan was decked out in the Uganda Cranes football shirts (as were we!) or at least in the ugandan colours with flags, horns, trumpets and facepaint! The stadium was alive with the buzz of the trumpets (think South African world cup noise!). I had a red trumpet and was joining in all the noise. I only saw 2 Madagascar fans. 
 
This match was also the first football match I have ever watched. I'm happy to say that Uganda won with one goal. When they scored the goal people started spraying beer and water everywhere. It was very funny. We saw all of the players get onto their bus (they do not travel in style! It was a very old battered bus) and one player tried to give me his victory T-shirt out of the bus window but i couldn't quite get close enough because all these people saw and came running and I would have certainly been trampled!
The football match was my favourite day in Uganda. I also got in the newspaper and on the TV! I bought a copy of the paper. There is a good photo in there haha.
 
Otherwise I have just been in the village teaching and working at the orphanage. My class are still working very hard but they never revise so forget things which is annoying. I do not think they get time to revise as they go home and have to collect water, make a fire, wash clothes and look after younger siblings. It is hard to find a solution. Some do not live near school. They have to walk so far.


 
Peeling potatoes!
Also this month has been quite overwhelming. I am used to being one of the only white people around, then suddenly all of these short-term volunteers appeared! In total I think around 48!!! I went to home again orphanage and there were so many white people I suddenly felt very shy and didn't really know what to do! I still feel a bit weird to be honest! From being 5 of us to 48 then 53 including us was a shock. And a shock to the village too! One team has moved on now so that's about 19 down and the rest are here for 2 months in total. They are nice but I have not met them all yet. They are from Duke University in America and mostly work up at Steph's school. 
 
It feels odd saying we have been here for nearly 10 months! We watched the world cup match USA vs. Germany (in a shed. Yes. I watch it in a shed with rats in but it's fantastic!). Now that England are out I'm supporting Germany so I was very outnumbered by all the Americans but when Germany scored the goal it was good fun for me!!

On a sadder note the boarding children who live outside our house killed our cat with sticks... We all got very angry at them and told the children not to talk to us and they didn't like that. So we refused to talk to them for a week then the other day they brought us a new cat. So I think they have understood their wrong doing. I hope so because it is a bit disturbing children killing animals... Jodie and Lauren are going to start teaching Ethics at their school as they clearly do not understand. I went on a rescue mission to find the dead cats kittens so they will get bigger and keep the rats away. All I ever wanted when I was a child was a cat, never got one (I hold no grudge, I really do not like cats any longer) but this year in Uganda I have managed to have 9 cats at one time or another... I actually never liked any of them and I try to remember why I wanted a cat so badly! I probably thought they were cuddly but these ones just hiss and spit at me, meow all night and get into our food cupboard!!

July will be a busy month. It is my last full month in the village. Our good friend Kate who has been in Uganda for just over a year is leaving very very soon, that will make us all very sad! Then we just have a lot going on but it is good to be busy. 

I myself, do not have that much time left in Uganda so am trying to make the most of it. Yet we are all running out of energy a bit but we shall keep pushing till the end!

I hope the sun has come out in the UK! It is the British Grand Prix next week and I am very sad to not be there but I have already saved up for my ticket for next year so I shall look forward to that!!

Love Bella.
Amooti. X

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Art Club

I have now set up an art club as my secondary project at the orphanage. To do this I spent some time making "how to draw" sheets of various things such as frogs, helicopters, horses etc and eventually managed to find somewhere to get them laminated.  I was really keen to get the sheets laminated so they would last for a long time and at least I know I'll be leaving them something useful to use and enjoy,once I've gone.

The children really enjoy this club and love using the sheets as before they mostly drew flowers and scribbles!  So now its great to see them learning some new things, and you can see in the photos how much they concentrate!


Art Club





Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Food, food, food....

The problem with being a volunteer in Uganda is that you can become slightly obsessed with food...

It involves sitting around the table in your house with your housemates talking about food. What food you like... What food you wish you could make out here... How amazing supermarkets are... How you used to hate school food but now you sit there wondering why on earth you did not eat the bright yellow fish paella? :) Maybe someone says, "Oh my mum makes THE best roast potatoes!" Then an uproar breakes out telling the other person that in actual fact it is YOUR mum that makes the best roast potatoes. It involves eating rice and concentrating so hard that the rice might actually taste like bacon if you try hard enough. It involves writing a letter home to your family with demands of what the fridge MUST hold when you arrive home and what recepies you want to be making until you go to uni.

Then, today, it involved being in Kampala at a cafe that had four different types of pizza slices... What to do? How about try every type...?

So today I ate veggie pizza, sausage pizza, ham pizza (twice) and beef pizza...

It's sad, isn't it!!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Travels...

Chimp Trekking.

Queen Elizabeth National Park.

A baboon!

Gorilla Trekking.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Uganda Travels

Hi all,

I never really talk about things I do when I'm not busy running around the place volunteering so from now on I shall try to remember to tell you about my travels and weekends etc.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I was heading off for a short break to Jinja. 
This is how it started -

We decided to leave at 8am however due to everyone being very much adjusted to "Arfican Time" we left at 8:30am. (African time is basically where time is non-existent. If you are going to meet someone at 10am you yourself may turn up at 10:20am then the other person will turn up sometime later. When we first arrived in Uganda we were always prompt but eventually we caught on to the way of life here!) 

We all squeezed into a salon taxi car passing our village to Kyenjojo Town where we swapped to a Matatu (the white and blue taxis) to Kampala. For once this matatu had about a half inch extra leg room than normal so the 5 hour journey was positively pleasant and there were no screaming babies. However what was rather unfortunate was this poor chicken...  This alive chicken had had its legs tied together and was hanging down the outside of my window. Speed limits are also non-existent so here I was, sitting for hours staring at this upside-down chicken blowing around in the wind, sometimes it had its eyes open looking terrified and other times I thought it had died as it closed its eyes. It did survive the journey but the next thing for it was probably a Boda ride through Kampala. 


How a chicken travels in Uganda!
 
We heard about this new shopping mall - Accacia Mall in Kampala with confirmation of an actual KFC! We arrived and the advertising of the KFC man was plastered across the window. I don't think I have ever seen us all smile so wide! In we went and it was a legit KFC with the big poster menus and a shopping till that the money goes in. (Haven't seen those in a long time!) We were all acting like little children excited about what to pick. It felt like we were in England. Nothing Ugandan looking about KFC. I  ordered two bits of chicken, large fries, Coca-Cola and an icecream that had a chocolate flake in it!!! The fries were just heaven! I know this probably all sounds over the top about how excited we were but this kind of food has not been accessible to us all year. Even just getting the food in the little boxes was fun! We then went to explore the mall which was an experience in itself. It was all so shiney! There was a water fountain and GLASS LIFTS! We didn't need to use one but by this point we were all a bit over excited. The other girls went "ooohhhhhhhhh" as we went down a floor in the lift. It is experiences like this when I wonder with slight terror how we will cope back in the UK when we are faced with such novelties as shopping malls, escalators, then the day to day things like an oven, a fridge, a TV, hot water and constant electricity. Even carpet...
 
KFC - Yummy!!
So after that excitement we went to the Jinja Taxi Stage in Kampala where the drivers started beating each other up and blocking our way into the taxi as they argued who's taxi we would go in... This happens a lot. It gets rather dull. 
 
 
New Taxi Park in Kampala
We arrived in Jinja and got to Nile River Camp which is without a doubt my favourite place to stay in Uganda. 

We settled into our room and spent the evening relaxing on the comfy sofas and watching the sunset over the River Nile. I had a delicious plate of nachos too. In total it took us 7 hours to travel to Jinja. 
A beautiful sunset over the River Nile
 
 We stayed at the Nile River Camp for four night so that meant three whole days there. We went swimming, read a few books etc. It was nice to just relax. On one of the evenings we went out to get a pizza, others went to get a curry then we met up at this chilled out bar called Flavours where there was a live band playing outside. The music was really good, very jazzy and fun plus it was a nice warm night so we stayed out until the band stopped. I also bumped into someone I spent New Years Eve with in Jinja so it was nice to catch up. It's always nice seeing a familiar face in Uganda! It was a really fun, relaxed night. 

Time went very fast in Jinja but other Project Trust volunteers kept arriving and some of them I have not seen since December. So it was cool seeing them all. On the last night we went to this amazing restaurant called The Black Lantern where I went full out and ate three courses. (and now have a much smaller bank account...) But it was so worth it! I ate baked breaded mozzarella, T-Bone steak with potato wedges and vegetables then a honey cake. I wish I ate like this more often!

The journey back consisted of my friend Jess singing loudly to Justin Beiber on the radio, not just one chicken but a whole roof of chickens on the taxi, a quick stop in Kampala for a delicious chicken pie and cookie then the smallest taxi I have ever had to fit my legs in back to my project. 

Back to rice and veg haha! So that was my trip to Jinja. I think I should stop being so focused about the food but I get carried away... 

I may possibly be going down to Kabale near the end of the holiday to visit Lake Bunyoni and the volunteers down there. I am yet to decide (and I need to count up my Shillings!)

That is all for now. 
Speak soon!

Bella xxx
Amooti