Thursday, July 9, 2015

On the Road Again

Well the ride back to Entebbe/Kampala does not get any shorter.  The tea fields through the Mbarara area are beautiful.  We stopped in Masaka for lunch and tried to find the place Linda & I tried a few years back.  It is still in the current guide books but it is a shell of its former self.  We all had French fries as nothing else looked appealing - the fries were good!

We took a 'short cut' to bypass Kampala as it is very busy at the end of the day but nothing ever seems easy.  It was shorter but probably hotter, bumpier and definitely dustier.  It is all part of the experience.

We were rewarded by arriving at Karibu Guest House and a warm welcome and a promise of a good meal.  We have a long journey home tomorrow.  It has been an adventure travelling with people I have just met (except for David - meaning I know him, not that it wasn't an adventure!).  We have learned a lot about each other and have made fun of the Canadian/US differences eh!

Thank you again to everyone who supports PODA - we are lucky to have you along for the ride.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Getting things started

This trip it felt like we got a lot of things started.  Now that they know me it is possible to sit and have conversations in Uganda about projects and ideas...and then finish them long distance via email and money transfer if applicable.

The day started with us stopping in Kasese to pick up mosquito nets for the students and the teachers.  This has been something they identified on their need list and something we could do immediately and it definitely brought cheers and smiles from everyone.

After the first photo I said you all look so serious so they lightened up and became themselves again!

It did not take them long to get the nets set up in their dorms. 

Angela & John spent time with the students in the late morning talking about journal writing and brain stormed what you could use a journal for.  I showed them how to make their own journal.  After making the journal they used some of the art supplies we had brought to decorate the covers as well they had time to write in the journals.

In between these activities we also packaged up all the records that had been painted and I had arranged to have the sewing machine repair person to come.  He is giving each of the machines a tune up.  I am still intrigued by the pattern making so took this photo to remember it by.

We had the help of two of the teachers that were familiar with computers to start putting the school newspaper on the computer.  They are using Publisher and Angela reviewed with them the concept of editing and how important it will be to teach to the students involved in the newspaper about editing.  Many of their contributions were quite long so editing will be necessary.

We were treated to a walk through the community just before leaving for the day.  It was a hot one but it is great for visitors to get an 'on the ground' look at the area around the school.

Back to the hotel in Kasese for a final evening before an early start back to Kampala in the morning.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

We gave them 'The Moon'

The day started with Angela & John meeting with the student council to talk about what they want for the school.  They narrowed down a list of wishes to several things that they could all agree were the priority for the school.  These included a school newspaper, mosquito nets, concrete floors for the classrooms, sports equipment and school goats.

This discussion led into on the development of a school newspaper.  The group now includes the student council as well as the Writers Club that has been started at the MLSS.  The students decided to call their school newspaper 'The Moon' because the moon is bright and guides them in the dark.

While they were meeting with the students, I met with the sewing teacher and some of the students.  One of the things I watched today was how they make patterns.  It was interesting to see the technique of folding a paper, marking the paper, folding again and then cutting.

As well in the morning we started the construction of the 'tippy tap' out by the latrines.  They are also developing more land at the back of the school.  When the school was constructed all the extra soil was piled behind the school and now it is being excavated to make room for more planting and they are using the soil to make bricks for the school gate and the house for the school director.  For those of you who were involved in the school build, that is Robert in the yellow, the young man who could work wonders with our clothes!

After lunch Angela & John started on a record painting project that they had brought from Portland.  Their daughter Tayliah is spearheading this project and back in Portland she will be selling the painted records that the students complete.  The proceeds will go to the school and will fund some of the needs the students identified today.
Meanwhile back at the latrines, the first 'tippy tap' has been completed and it works!  Nelson, Rodgers & myself headed to Bwera for more supplies and then on our return the second 'tippy tap' was done.  The records were continuing to be worked on.  I don't think you could pry the students away from this project.

The day ended with a change of plans.  Nelson has been called away to work so we will not see him on the final day.  Part of his job as a park warden is to be the liaison between the communities that live in the park and the Uganda Wildlife Association (UWA).  A lion in Queen Elizabeth Park has killed one of the villagers and Nelson needs to leave to speak with the community members and work with them through this terrible time.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Mweya to Marguerita

We were up early to witness another beautiful sunrise and enjoy the perfect temperature that the morning brings.  This is the sunrise from the Mweya Lodge. 

We headed into Kasese and on the way we checked out some other accommodation options.  I am always curious how far or close the website version of a hotel compares to the real live version.  We were satisfied that Hotel Marguerita was the place for us.

We met up with Nelson in Kasese at the Jambo Café so we could do some supply shopping for our next two days at the school.  It was around 30 degrees with a whole lot of humidity.  The Jambo Café is a great little respite from the heat.

Back at the hotel and time to cool down and do some planning for tomorrow.  The veranda offers just the right mix of shade and view.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The early bird gets the worm

We were up by 5:30 this morning so we could be on the road before the sunrise.  Once the sun starts to rise here, it rises very quickly.  You didn't feel the least bit tired when you were greeted with a view like this.


We travelled for a half hour or so before we came upon a pride of lions that were sitting among a herd of kob deer.  There were three lions, two lionesses and six cubs.


It is only 11:00 am and I think we have had a pretty good day so far!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Queen Elizabeth Park Here We Come

We are off to spend a couple of days in Queen Elizabeth Park.  After leaving Kasese, we made our first stop at the equator sign. 

Once in the park, after a detour to get park entrance requirements - always a little extra something to take care before the fun begins!  The delay ended up being well worth it as we came upon a herd of elephants on the road to the lodge.  I was in the very back seat so photo taking was not great but I will post more once we share photos.  We unknowingly had got in between them and we heard a very large growl from one of them.  This got our attention - he or she was warning the others of our arrival.  There was a baby with them so you really needed to stay back so we stopped the car and waited for them to pass.

A kingfisher - one of over 600 recorded birds species in the park.

Water buffalo hanging by the water's edge on a hot day with their friend the egret.

The mighty hippo.

Today we saw more crocodiles out of the water than in the water.

The majestic eagle

Mr. Baboon - he gets respect.

The eagle has landed.

We headed back to lodge to enjoy an evening of dinner and great conversation.  We covered the gamut - education, societal pressures, parenting, food and the list goes on.

Mpondwe Lhubiriha Secondary School Part Two - An Afternoon of Music, Dance & Smiles

Just before lunch we were entertained by the Tailoring Class.  They performed a song and dance.  Each of the pieces of music that we've heard today have been written specifically for our visit.  The lyrics are giving thanks to the work and support that PODA has given to the school and the community.  The Tailoring Class is now about twenty four in number and are comprised of young women who did not complete their formal schooling and are now learning tailoring as a vocation.

David was in the thick of it, having fun with the students.  They love to see photos and videos of themselves - lots of laughter as they scanned through the photos on David's phone.

This is a photo of Nellie, the son of Nelson & Robina.  Nelson is the Director of the school and Robina is a teacher as well as the bursar.  He is growing up fast and is no longer the shy boy I met last year!

After lunch Mr. Allen, Mr. & Mrs. Gleason and Mr. Sly taught a class to the students.  They rotated between the classes so that all of the students were able to benefit from this experience.

We headed back to Kasese for the evening and before sunset enjoyed the view of the Rwenzori Mountains, then very quickly the light faded and you were left with the beautiful sounds of nature.

A lot can happen in a day!

We started the day experiencing the sights and sounds of the hills around our hotel in Kasese.  Nature had a dimmer switch and slowly the world around us was waking up.

We drove to the school with a brief stop in Bwera to get drinks and try our luck at the cash machine - all were successful.  We arrived at the school by 10:00 am and the program began.  It was so good to see Nelson & Robina, along with teachers and students who were familiar.  As well I got to meet new teachers and students.  The community had come out to participate and the COBRA organization members.  As the morning rolled along many more from the community gathered to see what was happening.

We first received a tour of the school to show the progress that had been made.  They are trying to build on the agriculture program at the school and have purchased another plot of land behind the school to achieve that.

The basics of the latrines have been built and the finishing touches will be addressed over the next year.

The choir and other school groups performed for us.  Mr. Allen joined in and this was awesome as it encouraged others to get up as well.  You can see Robina (teacher & school bursar) enjoying the dance (sorry about the tree in the photo).

There was an art exchange with the students at Hillsboro Elementary School and our school (MLSS).  Hillsboro gave each student at MLSS a friendship bracelet along with books, art and journals about themselves.  Mr. & Mrs. Allen put a bracelet on each of the students.  The MLSS students provided art and crafts that can be brought back to the school in Hillsboro.

...that was just the morning.  The next post I will tackle the afternoon!  After I return I am going to have access to many more photos...great photos that I will share with you on the PODA website.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

What time is it in Uganda?

Well, I would have to say it is bedtime!  We had a very long day getting across the country.  Here we are looking somewhat rested and ready to go this morning.  We had breakfast together before loading our many bags onto the vehicle.

Left to right bottom photo:  David Sly, Angela Allen, John Allen & James Gleason

No photo this evening, you might not recognize us!  It is going to be a big day at the school tomorrow.  More photos from today to follow.  Everyone's travel to Uganda went well and luggage arrived safely - extra special since the luggage has such great things for the school in them, especially those made by the students at Hillsboro Elementary School.