Friday, 29 July 2011

Going back to our privileged life

The day had come when it was time to go home, it was strange.... at the start of the week i was scared being in a whole new country far away from home but by the end of the 12 days Africa felt like home! It had gone so fast yet so much had been experienced, sitting back on the journey home allowed the whole week to flash by and i can honestly say it was an experience of a lifetime.... the best week by far I've ever experienced!!

Being back in coventry doesn't feel right, leaving all who we had met and gained relationships with behind in a far different country to the UK felt selfish, although looking back and thinking what we had achieved was pretty spectacular!

We did not only make an impact on hundreds of lives in Africa but i honestly believe we all come away from this learning a lot about ourselves and making an impact on our own lives, letting us see life in a whole new perspective!

However the trip wouldn't of occurred without the huge amounts of hard work behind the scenes so therefore we wish to thank all of those involved in making it happen.

The Nile Experience

This was the chance to see a bit of africa from a new light, the nerves and excitement were all building up. Being away from the kids and the school itself was strange! This was going to be an added bonus to the whole once in a life time opportunity, 'white water rafting down the nile' just saying it seems amazing!

At first i was so scared but once jumping in and going down the first rapid the adrenaline build up! The views and wildlife itself was breathtaking too and at every opportunity we found ourself jumping in and swimming in the Nile!

The day flew by and by no time five hours had passed and it was over, going back to the accommodation allowed us to take the whole week into perspective, seeing the worst sides of the country being the slums and then the sight seeing tourist attractions completely opposite to what we had been experiencing throughout the week.

And to my shock i saw no crocs!!!!!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The big finale

Throughout the week we had been working towards this big day, the kids were excited for a day they had been looking forward to for months... this was going to be a unique day for them that they had never experienced before, a day where five schools they hadn't met before would join together and compete.

It was an early start but hearing the screams coming from the coaches from the University field when the coaches were down the road showed how excited they were and the early start was made worth while! Each school coming running off their coaches with great big grins, when seeing Bright future arriving we walked over to welcome them as the came running towards us chanting and meeting us with cuddles, with about twenty children all around you hugging you made you realise just how much we had brought to them!

When explaining the way the event was going to occur, we mentioned the toilet facilities which were provided for them, being porter loos instead of the usual hole in the ground all of a sudden they all needed the toilet and huge queues were lined next to every toilet!!

Each school presented a song at the start of the competition and the atmosphere was huge, amazing and so overwhelming!

Kicking into the competition side of things it went better than expected, I was umpiring rounders and with the schools only of had four weeks before we came, to learn the basic of the sport with little equipment and then four days with other on up skilling further the competition showed off the skills these kids had! They wernt just concentrating on getting one person out on each hit but as many as possible passing the ball around a number of times stomping the posts making a numbers number of kids out! The catching and throwing was amazing with little attempts that didn't catch the ball, and the hitting of the ball at some points when a lot further than expected... this really showed up the quality of some rounders games I've watched in coventry!

The enthusiasm and concentration showed how much they were enjoying themselves and how willing they were to make the competition to a high standard. With first aid organised and available for the day any incidents we persuaded to go over to gain aid, at one point a girl was hit in the eye by the rounders ball full on from the hit she picked the ball up throw it on to get the opposing player out and continued holding her eye in pain i ran over telling her to go to first aid with me, she replied with 'I'm fine i want play rounders' while she held her eye in pain, she had to be forced to first aid, this really showed how much these kids loved playing sport and being involved.

At the end of the morning the younger children's competition was over and the results were given with the winning team running around the field in joy as well as the other teams stood smiling and clapping thanking for the day they had experienced. This was now the time to say goodbye to the younger children i had worked with over the last four days, the children who felt like family after just so little time, the hugs and goodbyes were harder than we all could of imagined.

We picked ourselves back up and continued the day with the older children's competition, the whole day was amazing. At one point i looked up and looked around and saw hundreds of children playing sport, doing something they enjoyed so much, cheering and smiling and that was one of the best feelings i felt over the week, seeing what we had achieved for breath taking!

And then it was the goodbye to these children and to the teachers, handing over all the equipment and saying goodbye, the tears poured down although at the back of my mind i knew that although this was the hard goodbye, this wasn't the end, yet it was the start of the journey of sustaining this and giving these kids a better life to live, continuing the relationships and keeping them smiles on their faces!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Last day at Bright Future!

The last day within the school and what an emotional day it was, only spending a few days with the children and teachers within Bright Future we become like family.

This day consisted of upskilling the chidren's tennis, although some already seemed wimbledon ready after only a few weeks of practising themselves on the basics! The ralleys were on full display!

Once again we got filled up by 'Betty's specials'. This included her first ever home made pizza, chicken pie, large amounts of fruit, samosas and 'crisips'. We then went on to the fairwell assemberly, with some students making a speech for us and bearing gifts for us... The thought that had gone into each one of our gifts was incredible- this soon turned into a very emotional time, with every one of us sharing at least a tear or two. The singing was underway and the hugs and hand shakes were rife. ROLL ON THE FESTIVAL! Kids were advised an early night and so we set off and headed back to the Cassia Lodge, preparations for the evening at the British High Commisioner's house were underway before setting off.

Arrival at his house soon followed by the greetings of the Comissioner's family and representatives of twin schools. This set the template for a very relaxed and sophisticated evening. James was beaten by Joe at FIFA after we'd eaten all of his food and took over his childrens game room. This wrapped up another eventful day in Uganda.

The MOOve

Another day began, today was the day of the hotel change- from dolphin suites to cassia lodge. teachers were starting to become considerably irritable as waking up early seemed a tough task ahead of a very busy schedule.Equipment and luggage was loaded onto minibusses and the 'halfway landmark' had been reached. cramped up in the minibus, we were hoping for a fairly stress free drive after yesterday's drama (yes, we got pulled over by the police). Soon after, we had arrived at the bright future school, greeted by sunshine, kids, sports equipment.. and Betty.

Betty was somewhat of a 'feeder'. We could never eat enough, we would be lucky to be able to stand on our own two feet after she had finished catering for the four of us(although she had really catered for about ten!)

Out we went and the 15 minute walk to the playing field was underway and football and endball had soon commenced. Once again the factor 50 was slapped on and for the third day running, the talent was shining through, in between the water breaks of course! The water breaks meant running down to the well used for the builders in preparation for a hard day of brick making and collecting as much as they could possibly bring back up the hill again.

Soon greeted by the african cattle. Striding casually along our football and endball pitches before being ushered along by our brave Sudanese students. These cows meant business. This completed the bulk of the third day in the schools and the walk back to the school was looming.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Today was another day in the schools and this time was teaching rounders. When we got into the school we were welcomed with a surprise... After handing over four laptops yesterday they had already tidied out a room and transformed it into their perspective of an I.t room, with one table, a few chairs, and the four laptops all set up to be used... Was a great feeling seeing them already be used and the smiles that a few laptops brought!

We handed out a few frisbies and skipping ropes and immediately the kids were over whelmed! It's a shock at the size of the grins small gifts bring!

We headed once again down to the field another 15 minutes walking... Which is what they so all the time they want area to play sport! We set of the drills and immediately saw how well there basic technique of throwing and catching was! Getting into games showed the understanding of the sport already and seeing the kids have so much fun is amazing! Although I still dont understand how they run over sand and stoned land bare foot without no expression of pain... Like their used to it! After getting into the game we noticed cattle start walking over the field And as we played games the kids fielding would ever stand right next to the herd of cattle ready to catch the ball not with a scare ofthe thought of them charging!

I had a teacher asking me if I could teach them Alevel maths, lap off I went and had a wonderful conversation learning aloft about the way of life and teaching here, was a real shock!

In at the deep end!

Yesterday, we made our way to bright future school- Kampala.. We were assigned to tag rugby. We were lucky as we were pleasantly surprised at the skill level of the children and this way we felt as if we had been given a head start! All that the kids needed was a lesson on basic skills and rules of tag rugby.

As we were greeted by Christine(the head teacher), we were soon told that we would be teaching 72 children.. Ouch! We soon set out for the playing field the school had rented, 'apparently' it was just down the road. After a 15 minute walk we finally arrived, we were once again greeted, this time by cow dung- this was normal.. The question was immediately asked what we were going to do about this, and Phillip(tag rugby coach) simply replied "what can we do about it" this was time to 'man up'! As the lesson progressed, so did the increase of heat, factor 50 was slapped on and so were the caps, we meant business.

We were amazed by the skill level, the side steps were starting to feature and the pace was injection(this meant tries)! The natural ability was shining through, the talent in this country is outstanding and I'd love to see how they would develop into playing more familiar sports!

We also went over some tennis as this was meant to be their weaker sport, by what I saw it was far from being weak! The way in which all the kids listened and found every drill exciting as the last and even through re heat kept up the same levels of effort!

By Joe and Tish

The day was starting to wind down, and the huffs and puffs were kicking in! And so it was time for drinks and another walk back through the slum style estate

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Into the schools!

Today we had a day in all of the five schools that us five schools from Coventry are working with within the week. We had children from schools waiting and running down the street when they saw us arrive, and kids which started singing and dancing as soon as we arrived... Seeing how good they could dance was amazing!! The welcoming of every school was overwhelming and even though we were in the schools for an hour and a half each the connection within that time was huge!

This day was(in one word) amazing.. The joy of even a wave from us towards the children was unreal, a simple wave triggered huge smiles! The swarms of children everytime we set foot off the coach, hundreds of hugs and hand shakes soon followed. After our tours around the somewhat contrasting schools and ball games with the school pupils, a long tiring day of fun emotions and games we set off to the university where we sized up the pitches for the forecoming festival on friday

The welcome at Bright Future school was great, the students lined up in teaching groups according to ability - older students at the back around 15 with the smallest students of around 5 years of age at the front. We picked our endball team from the tallest at the back!! The school needs basic water supplies proper toilets and more open space for sports.we have paid for the use of a field for the week to coach the students. Not that we are competitive... The school has few resources and around 78 students are in each class. The students have to buy their own exercise books and pens. The level of ability from the work on the chalkboardswas varied but their literacy must be good looking at the displays. The staff are wonderful the head teacher called Christine is very excited to be involved on this project. The school was so welcoming and cooked lunch for all of the group. After lunch Joe and Lewis showed off their talent in a game of tag rugby. Looking forward to really developing links tomorrow

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Day one

Had the eye opening experience of going into the slums today, was such a shock even with us having a basic idea from the media! The crazy aspect of it all was even though the conditions were the worst imaginable every face I saw were filled with smiles! All the kids stood and waved and I felt so welcomed immediately! As we got slowly towards the centre of the slum, word got around we were visiting and the increase of smiley faces begun, hi fives all around!Swarms of kids almost clinging onto us for dear life. Tash.

Joe and Tasha did us proud today. Dealt with the extreme poverty, conditions and lack of resources with such maturity. We walked around filthy water drains filled with rubbish personal waste and things I can't describe. The shacks made from old containers housing on average ten people in a family. Children in dirty clothes but as Tasha says smiling with snotty noses. The kids loved having their photos taken and then seeing themselves on yhe photo- although i got a bit mobbed...We were taken round by some community workers who gave us some frightening stats life expectancy under 40 in the slums ( that would be me a gonner)AIDS is prevalent young people spend their money on drink and drugs and the slum we visited was half made up of Somalian refugees due to the drought. The water projects are still few and far between, small steps from this project will make a difference. This is just the beginning of an incredible journey. Tasha and Joe have really seen poverty in the extreme and they have
reflected on how much they have.

A lift had soon arrived and we were whisked away to the international sports ground, rugby! Uganda vs Kenya, a much anticipated match ahead of us. We soon met , who was very pleased to see us just before leading us into the VIP area(bonus) greeting us was 'wilkiam'- the chairman of Ugandan rugby, accompanied by Ugandan rugby legends and the presidents son! We were placed in front of half a dozen cameras, awaiting our good news.. This was the announcement and Hand
over of 50 rugby balls that we kindly presented to the Ugandan rugby federation, this was live on the Ugandan answer to sky. The reaction we received from presenting these balls was special- as if we'd handed a pot of gold! After the attention from the media and our deed of the hand over was done, we were shown to seats that'd been kindly reserved for us- Royalty!!

This rounded off a very interesting eye opening day.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Settled in

After a long and tiring journey, stopping at Dubai and Adis Adabar we landed in at Entebbe airport ,Uganda. The first thing to hit us was the heat on the run way followed very quickly by the amount of men with guns! We made our way through customs gaining our visas into the country. We then met up with Daniel who is our link in Uganda, who walked us to the meet the very loveable Matthew who would act ad the coach driver for the week. At this point a large bus of young pupils appeared to be on need of some help, ad their bus would not start.... Interesting introduction to Uganda! With the assistance of the afica inspired team e shops their bus was soon bump started and on it's way, little did Miss Kirk know that as the coach burst into life it also regurgitated it's oil from the exhaust over her right leg of her shorts! All the group found her fave amusing as she stared down at the black slick the adorned her leg. Once the luggage was packed we made our way from the airport to Kampala where we ate staying for the first 5 days, the Dolphin Suites.
The journey took us through some very interesting areas of shops which appeared to sell every thing from fruit to petrol driven strimmers! In fact we think in one case the shops went in this order... Scrap metal yard, fruit and veg then a grave yard... Nice! All of these shops held us with wooden branchlike scaffolding supports. We were also amazed at the amount of traffic and shear volume of people that appeared to be either welding metal or standing still doing nothing.
This took us about an hour and a hour before we reached our designation... For that you will have to read tomorrow's blog,,, hopefully not by me and quite this boring!!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Set sail!!

Just going to try and get this going whilst en route! We have just started the journey to Heathrow on the coach, all the kisses and cuddles have been done! Joe has come in fancy dress as Ollie Murs, which has caused an early laugh! Now only 2 more hours on the coach then 16 hours on a plane..... Simples!! Until later Mr Lewis

Thursday, 7 July 2011

only a week to go!

Thank you to the IT boys at Stoke Park for donating 3 lovely laptops for the Bright Future School in Kampala, a very welcome gift I am sure. Also a big thank you to English, Mathematics, the Library and the SEN department for thier kind donation of resources.

As for Joe and Natasha - they took part in a televised interview this morning! watch this space for links!

We have all had our jabs, have done the last minute shopping and are almost packed.

Any support for the Sixth Form sponsored walk on Activity Day around Draycote Water would be appreciated. Sponsor money to the sixth form office please.