follow our volunteers on their African adventure…
Catherine Lamb tells us about the final day of the trip:
Today was our last day in the field and we visited Akaikuku school in the Masindi district. I knew this was going to be an emotional visit as Akaikuku is one of Build Africa’s youngest schools having only had its development plan started this year. Even before this plan could be put into action there was one hurdle to overcome; there was no road to the village. With Build Africa’s help the local government were persuaded to build one. Now Build Africa and the local community’s work could begin.
The sun was shining and Happy (one of the Build Africa staff) gave us a background briefing during our journey into the school. However nothing could have prepared me for the harsh reality we faced as we turned off that bumpy road.
First I spotted two small, community built mud buildings, next I spotted a huddle of adults beneath the largest tree sat around a table in the shade. There were the usual cattle and goats milling around and there sounded to be some building work happening in the near distance; but what I was looking for were the happy smiley faces tumbling over themselves to see us. Initially they were not obvious but then one by one a flash of colour peaked out from the trees trying to sneak a look at the Muzungu (white people) who had come to visit them. I suddenly realised what I was witnessing… in the calm serene landscape were classrooms under trees. I cannot describe to you how I felt in that moment, the tears just welled up and I had to take a minute before I could get out of the car.
As Headmaster John led us around the school, from one cluster of trees to the next, we met the children of Akaikuku. I was heartbroken to see that some of the ‘classrooms’ didn’t even have seats. They sat on the ground in the shade of the trees and had their lessons in this way. The two buildings I had spotted were the church and a community built mud structure which was used by the older children for their lessons. What struck me by this school was they were not scared by us. They happily spoke to us; answered our questions; even taught us some words and then played football. After we all sang songs, danced and laughed – it was an absolute honour to spend time with these children.
It was amazing to see the first piece of development being built too; a classroom block with headmasters office. This would become the first permanent structure the school would have, ready for them in the New Year. When it is finished, and it rains the children won’t have to go home, they can congregate under a proper roof and stay dry. It was clear from talking to the teachers, parents, and committee how excited they were that Build Africa had chosen their school to develop and the commitment from the parents to give their children an education was higher than average.
The whole purpose of our visit to Uganda this week was to see first-hand the poverty, the schools and the community that is a reality to these wonderful people. Then we can go back to the UK and endeavour to raise much needed funds for Build Africa in order to help other schools like Akaikuku. This school visit proved a million times over that the hard work and effort so many people put in to help these communities is so so worth it. Today we visited a school that is in its earliest stages of development, it was an emotional visit but I took away a sense of legacy building and I’m sure in a few years to come this will be a thriving bustling school and you never know, little Vincent that I met, may well just be the next president as he hopes!