Following the very successful visit to Wobulenzi Town Academy last week, ServeDirect is very happy to convey this letter to KISU*. WTA+ is the secondary school the PTA supported last year with science equipment. The WTA students are so appreciative of this, especially as they prepare for O levels next month. On behalf of ServeDirect, I also wish to express my great pleasure at the efforts of IB1 students and we look forward to assisting KISU and WTA co-operation in the future. Michele Ball.
Dear IB1 Students and Staff at KISU
Hello friends of WTA, greetings from staff and students here in Lukomera. It was really a very exciting time when you were here with us at WTA. I have been informed by our students that they learnt a lot of new interesting things from you and that they made friendships and enjoyed working together in various workshops. My staff tell me they learnt a lot from KISU staff, particularly how to organise short but effective, and interesting activities and communication skills. They admired how KISU staff communicated with you and how well you responded to their communication. It was an atmosphere of friendship.
Your visit has left behind memorable sites, such as Newly-painted latrine walls, a large painting of the School emblem which everyone can see, and lots of planting; all done by KISU staff and students.
Thank you for making WTA better than it was before you visited us. May God reward you more abundantly.
Our next team trip out to Wobulenzi will be for two weeks from mid November 2011 to coincide with the last two weeks of the term at the school - the students are able to depart from the formal timetable which enables UK teams to participate more fully in extra curricular activities/workshops etc. as well as undertaking the project practical/building work.
This trip has the potential to be particularly rewarding as it occurs at the end of the first year at the new site for the school as well as having the focus of building a small Health & Community Centre next to the school.
The focus will be to help fund and build this new Health & Community Centre located next to the school, and to get involved with taking extra curricular activities with the students. For those that come, there is opportunity to be involved in sport, art, science practicals, teaching and Christian based programs.
Please take a look at comments and testimonies from previous Team Trip participants under Testimonials on this site and contact
for more information.
So as I said yesterday, the KISU Outdoor Ed trips started today, all over the country. Most of them are designed to challenge the individual but also help team-building. So students are kayaking, climbing the Rwenzori Mountains, sailing and so on. However in the top 2 classes things are a little different. Toby's class are now in Mabira Forest, undertaking their mandatory Group 4 project. This is nothing to do with security and everything to do with getting up to 27% of their overall science grade. I mention this specifically, as not only is it a year ago since Grace did this week-long series of experiments, but more importantly, Mabira Forest is well and truly under serious threat of part-sale and clearance for sugar cane. This would be devastating on environmental and ecological grounds. For more information, there is a good article dated 22 August in The Guardian.
...which only makes real sense as a silly quip, if you are familiar with Kampala's eateries.
Hello everyone! And greetings from Uganda at the start of the rainy season.
As I write, Tobes and Jess have settled back into their school for the 2nd and 1st year of IB, respectively. Or Upper and Lower 6th, if you prefer. Except it's really more like Yrs 13 and 12. Tonight Jerry and I went to their Outdoor Education trip meetings for parents. We are very pleased to tell you that Jess' year-group are going to WTA for a week, very soon. They will be doing some practical work, such as planting, and painting the sports' courts, and then in the afternoons the KISU students will be running workshops. More of that when the time comes! And for those of you who know, they will be staying in the same rooms you have used, at the local guesthouse in Wobulenzi. Some of them will not ever have used cold showers... and quite a few more will have never used a pit latrine, but we are confident that this could be the start of a good relationship between the two schools. Em bounced in for 24 hours between airport runs as she headed off for Kigali, Rwanda, on Saturday. She's now teaching French and English as required in the International School there. She has started a blog about this, which is I will link below if you are interested to follow that too.
“Bombastic” = amazing, brilliant, fantastic - and our new favourite adjective in ‘Ugandanese”, as discovered by Em as she was marking an S4 English essay recently.
For the last few months, Sunday lunches have been sponsored by a friend’s company in the UK. When Steve visited, he was struck by the monotony and the endless bland bulk that is posho, the staple school meal. To put it into perspective, imagine sloppy porridge for breakfast, solid porridge for lunch and solid porridge for supper, probably with beans for 3 times a day and 7 days a week… for 12 weeks. It sounds grim, but the reality is that it is cheap, fills you up and for some students is far more than their food at home.
We often refer to the ‘WTA students’ or ‘pupils’ en masse…. And of course each one has a compelling story to tell or an interesting perspective… and lots of them have plenty to say for themselves…. This week I have received two letters from two girls – Irene in S2 about 14years old and Helen in S5 who is 21.
Irene arrived as a new student in February into S2 and is one of those keen but shy girls on the front row in the class. She is also one of the official ‘time-keepers’, whose job is to ring the bell every 40 minutes. Last week, she waited outside another lesson and silently handed me a letter. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so it was lovely to read a very simple thank-you letter for the provision of the new school. Compared to where she was before, she thinks the facilities represent great value for money at 139,000 Ugandan shillings (£34.75 per term/boarding):
Another great day and yet another milestone for the school. And a very important day as well.
1 ½ cows were slaughtered (how do you slaughter ½ a cow?) and piles and piles of food were started to be cooked 24hrs beforehand for 700 people. Fingers crossed as to whether they would turn up!
Typically at 10am on Sunday, when the ceremony was due to start, no-one was there and the hall was still being set out.
However, in usual Ugandan fashion, people started to drift in and soon it turned into a flood. It was great to see the hall jam packed with around 600 inside. This then swelled to around 1000 in the afternoon with the hall jam packed both inside and out with many faces crowding the windows during the many student presentations. And as for the food - it was superb. All in all it was fantastic,very loud and incredibly interesting.
And that was my personal feeling as well - what a privilege to be a part of making it all happen.
As for the formal event itself - the many speeches were as expected, some brilliant and to time, others long and not so brilliant...zzzzzzzz. All the student presentations were fascinating and some very exciting - especially the ones representing the various different tribes of the country - for a taster of an Acholi region presentation click on here for the youtube link. What a journey it has been up to this point - still more to finish off - but then what will be next?
Sunday marked a great day for WTA – the Official Opening Ceremony of the new site – we all went up for the day to join in the celebrations. Charles and the staff had organised a very full programme – so all we had to do was to turn up… and enjoy ourselves….
Well, we weren’t really sure what to expect – or how formal it might be, but in fact it was a great day. It was very long and full of speeches and presentations, but not too wearing.. apart from the 5th VIP speaker of the afternoon who went on for an hour (Phil timed him!)… And he then concluded by saying that Uganda needs to produce many more children to keep up with the UK population, so was encouraging the audience to go forth and multiply for Uganda. Not particularly great advice to a mixed secondary school.
So it all started at 10 ‘promptly’ (about 10.40) with a church Sunday service, led by the students who all crammed into the hall. The other guests/ VIPs started to drift in later. Then the Deputy Head introduced the entire programme for the day – and we were already an hour late by then – but he calmly read it all out as if it was yet to happen and stay on time. Totally TIA. Brilliant.
After the service, there was an influx of guests and local notables and then followed a succession of speeches, cunningly interspersed with lots of upbeat raucous, riotous and occasionally raunchy (!) traditional dances from the students – different regions did their thing with costumes and drums and general wildness. And they got progressively more energetic and mesmerising. If you have been out on a team trip here and seen the students in action, you will remember what it is like. They looked tremendous up on the stage of the main hall, and it really was fun to watch… and at that stage no audience participation was required. They had been rehearsing for ages and are rightly proud of their regional customs and costumes.
It was amazing to see the new hall packed (it wasn’t even there in February!) and it became even more packed again as the afternoon wore on. Local councillors and other local representatives – some very senior - came for the official ceremony and to participate, Their very presence at school was both impressive and useful. There was even a Cabinet Minister, who is the local MP and known to Charles. Everyone gave speeches – some longer than others, but it was all important and noteworthy – and a world away from where the school first started. To see so many people gathered together to celebrate and mark the occasion was significant also. Masses of brightly dressed ladies in fab outfits. Some parents, guardians, grandparents and younger siblings. Hundreds of students also of course. Lunch (at about 4pm) was great..but by then we were ready to eat anything! WTA probably provided food for about 1000 people, including all the students, staff, visitors, parents and families – plus visitors from the local community of Lukomera.
There was lots of thanks and acclaim for ServeDirect, which was kind. Phil and Jerry spoke from an SD perspective and did a ribbon cutting outside the admin block.
After the lunch, it all got better and more informal and even louder. The kids carried on doing presentations – mostly singing and dancing, all helped by a LOUD PA borrowed from Patrick’s church. The last contribution was one very powerful drama which told the story of a ‘typical’ WTA student, abducted by the rebels, who killed her parents and she then escaped, from the bush now with a child. Having been rejected by her family she was picked up on the street by a stranger, directing her to WTA… the characters of Charles, Michele and I being uncannily and interestingly portrayed by the older students!
By the end, the stage was invaded by half the school, dancing, leaping and generally bouncing around, whooping and cheering each other. But all were in excellent humour and it good to be part of it all. We finally left – another hundred photos later – by about 5.30pm and made it back to KLA by dark. Tired, but it was a good day. It was good to listen to other people reminding us how epic and important the day really was – and reminding the students where they had come from and what they have now and so on.. And today (Monday) the atmosphere in the school was very buzzy and upbeat among both staff and students.Charles also was very pleased with how it had all gone – in many ways it has raised the profile of the school not only locally but also far widely beyond the Lukomera/Wobulenzi community.