The Martians have landed

Tuesday 28th July

As each member of staff gets half a day off a week, and as today was my turn, I have time to write this:

It has been a very good start with the first team. We collected them as planned from Entebbe on Sunday and whizzed them up to Kumi (i.e. left at 10.00 am, arrived at 7.30 pm) with various loo and drinks stops on the way. They brought a mountain of luggage – much of it was items to be given to our project partners. They are nice group of people – 12 in all, ranging from 13 years old to 63. Between them they have many skills, teaching, music, engineering, drama and medical. Two mums with daughters are in the team.

On arrival at Akabui School we were treated to a presentation of singing and dancing from the school children and staff. It was a special day for them and they had been obviously practising hard. The kids were very shy – the equivalent for us would be performing before some Martians just out of their spaceship.

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Our new team members have got stuck in straight away with the programme. We have had two sessions on the building site and the new classroom block is now up to nine courses of bricks (floor slab level)

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I also encouraged the team to get involved with the children at the school because, to the kids, that is far more important than a new building. So, today we had the hokey cokey with the kindergarten and football with the older ones, during morning break.

These children have never seen white people before and they are fascinated ! The fact that white people would want to play with them was inconceivable. White folks just don’t do that sort of thing. The children are quite shy at first but soon warm up to us and get cheeky rapidly. When they greet us, the little girls curtsy, which makes us feel quite royal but it is also a little embarrassing.

We arrived in our 28 seater bus. Some of the younger children have never seen a bus and some little boys inspected it with interest. Some of our team attended a year five English lesson when they had to make up new words out of “carpenter” and “window”. Our team found this quite challenging !

Yesterday, we were surrounded, on the site, by about 20 secondary school girls (wearing purple in the picture). I said to Patrick, our builder that I supposed they had never seen white women working on bricklaying. He replied “no, they do not believe that any mazungus (white people) ever get their hands dirty” So we have shattered their disillusions quite quickly. They did help us carry bricks though.

So, all is going very well so far. The latest entrants in the funny shop name competition are: “Newer car spares”, “Good Luck Pharmacy”, “Good is Good”. And on vehicles we have “Don’t Drive on Shoulders” and the prize goes to “Trust in Allan” (which I think was a misprint for Allah).

The latest news stand poster says “Five Universities Not Accredited to teach Law” – we are still reeling from the shock of this announcement – those of our team members who were planning on acquiring a 10 day Ugandan law degree are now packing their bags.

I will be back on the blog in a few days.

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