25 August 2010

Queen Elizabeth Natl Park

The P7 girls will be sitting for their Primary Leaving Exams in Novermber, so when third term begins next month they'll be busy with around-the-clock instruction and revising. Last week they went on their last Hurrah in primary school: a 3-day tour of the awe-inspiring beauty of western Uganda . Guess who was lucky enough to accompany them. We toured...

-Queen Elizabeth National Park: we took a game drive early Thursday morning through the dry savannas and saw Buffalo, Water Bucks, Ugandan Kob, Elephants, Warthogs and Mongoose. Its an interesting experience to see wildlife from an enormous and very loud school bus. The best part is hearing their excitement and seeing them concentrate on what's outside their windows so they can be the first one to spot a wild animal. We didn’t see too many animals, but its was refreshing to take a drive, calming to see the sunrise over African plains and exciting to be in a wild place. In the afternoon we took a boat ride in Kazinga Channel, connecting Lake George and Lake Edward, and saw Hippos, more Elephants and Crocodiles. Some of the girls and I stood on the second story of this tour boat and enjoyed the wind and a great view of the water. Then to top off the day, we visited the museum. (After the museum my friend and I went next door and walked around the VERY nice and expensive Mweya Lodge accomodations, the hotel that was half a mile from where we were staying. When i told the staff i just wanted to look around, that i wasn't staying the night, they asked me "why not?, the place was made for people like you." It was unbelievably fancy and i was stunned because just a short walk down the road 60 girls were sleeping on a dorm floor and bathing in the moonlight.)

-Lake Katwe Salt Operations: the humidity there reminded me of Houston. We followed the tour guide around narrow walkways skirting the square pools of water where the workers "harvest" table salt. We saw the men in the middle of the shallow lake bringing in piles of rock salt that they sell for cows. The workers are at least knee deep in their salt gardens or Lake Katwe for hours at a time. Women

have high incidence of uterine infections and the men penile infections.

-Kilembe Copper Mines: about half an hour west of Kasese in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountain Range. Was closed down during Idi Amins time when he expelled Asians and most foreigners from Uganda, they are trying to reopen the mines. We were able to venture inside the old mine and it felt exhilarating to be inside the earth, to feel like an explorer searching for an elusive place or answer. Though this adventurer found comfort in holding one of the P7s hand as she slowly and anxiously walked through the pitch black mine entrance. After the tour of the mine, the teachers and i went down to get rocks from the river. It's been a long long time since i've enjoyed being in real water (i don't count water in dingy pools or in a bathing bucket.) I can't even stand close to lakes here for fear of Bilharzia. Feeling the cold water running around my feet and legs was rejuvinating and it reminded me of wading around 5 Mile Creek.

-Hima Cement Works: the last stop before heading back to Kisubi, most of the students were tired and grouchy, but we got to wear hard hats and goggles and that seemed to cheer them up a little bit.


Thank you tia for the coffee and coffeemate! Its like a blast from the past smelling and drinking it, I enjoy the coffee here, they grow it mainly in western Uganda. When I first came to Uganda, I visited some volunteers in a village out west where they grew lots of coffee. We went walking to visit the Sisters of Our Lady of Good Counsel and for the hour walk we smelled nothing but coffee plant flowers and I remember being so happy that this was my new home.

Thanks pop for sending the book with Georgia O'Keefe's work. I show it to Vale and Pauline and try and tell them about the southwest and art and women. Who knows what makes it through my terrible translations, but they like looking at the pictures anyway. They love the one of Japan's gardens. They turn each page saying in Luganda, "this is VERY far away" "the trees are beautiful" "Look there's orange and red." I'm just now trying to show them maps; they know Africa is very big and America is VERY far away.

Thank you Mrs .Clack for sending the colorful erasers and stickers. The students really like them, there's not any type of "Office Supplies" culture here. That sounds funny to say, but I know I certainly LOVED going back-to-school shopping and deciding which notebook to get and what color pencils and pens to get. Even as an adult! I love going to office supply stores, looking at organizing racks and new highlighting gadgets. I'm digressing. I just mean to say, that’s not here, and the students love the novelty.


And lastly, what would this blog be without stories of Vale and Pauline?! I went and saw them for their Sports Day at the nursery school.

Pauline showing off her classroom with the two other littles who came to cheer on their older amigos. Concepta with that sly grin and Pauline Mbabazi in the pink skirt.

Vale in the egg-on-a-spoon race.

Pauline in the bottle filling contest.

02 August 2010

Stature was the last word

Playing warm-up Spelling games with Amanda

Central Academy

Fake check for the winner!

Nkumba's First Spelling Contest went surprisingly well. The students were very nervous so to begin things (and wait for the other schools to show up) we played spelling games. Thank you Amanda for getting them to relax enough to play Hangman!

It took about an hour to go 8 rounds of words. I've been going to these schools for a couple of months now, helping with spellling lessons, watching or organizing the schools spelling contests and it was hard to watch these finalists misspell words. I kept trying to tell them the correct spellings via ESP. It didnt work and one-by-one the contests dwindled until the best spellers (or really the students who work well under pressure) were left.

First place: Gloria from St. Charles Lwanga P/S
Second place:Penny from Nkumba P/S
Third place: Paul from African Children's Choir P/S

The first place winner received 200,000 USh (about 100$) towards her third term school tuition. Her teacher told me her family would be so proud and thankful for the help with school fees. Thank you Bishop Dunne staff for contributing to this contest! It helped motivate the students to learn English, gave them a chance to practice speaking skills and helped them gain confidence in their abilities. Thank you so much! The teachers and students who participated in the contest all send their greeting and heartfelt thanks to you.

Towards the end of our celebration lunch one of the teachers asked if i could help organize another spelling contest for the third term. Yes!