Uganda Adventure 2015
You can’t grow up in the UK without being aware of charitable work in Africa. From LiveAid to Comic Relief, numerous charities have brought the harsh realities of life in many war torn and famine affected countries right into our homes. Below is my own brief insight into what my trip to Uganda working with Clarify Foundation meant to me.
Although I was aware of the importance of providing education to African children, before joining Clarify I was ignorant of the practicalities of building and running schools. It hadn’t occurred to me that teachers would face the same problems as their pupils. Where to live? How to get to work? How to make a living? Think about a new building, left fully functional and stocked with equipment in a remote place. The building is a target for criminals when empty at the weekends.
The work of the Clarify Foundation is vital. Providing teachers with homes at the school solves both problems; they can live at their place of work and their presence is a deterrent for criminals when school is out.
For the past 4 years, the Foundation has worked on a new project for a different rural Ugandan school each year. Fred, our local builder and fixer, supervises the construction and a small team from Clarify then arrives to finish the building, doing the painting and decorating, before handing over the project to the school.
I felt so excited and honoured from the moment that I was first told that I would be part of the team this year, knowing this would be an opportunity of a lifetime. After meeting up with Dick and Chris, our week’s work was to start on a Sunday, but not before joining our new Ugandan friends for church. After the service, we made our way to the Bulera primary school that would be our base for the next week. There were three homes to be completed; filling and sanding walls, preparing and painting all of the surfaces, doors and windows. Health and Safety would have had a field day with the ladders, but the work steadily got done and no one was hurt! Tash and I worked together, while Lee & Dick had the other two homes. We were aided through the week by teachers and students, including Robert, John and Irene who would live in these homes once our work was done.
One of our young helpers, Edrin is someone I will never forget. On the first day, he saw that I had a Bic pen in my folder and asked if he could keep it at the end. That something we consider to be disposable would be something valuable really hit me. That the Ugandans accomplish so much with so little was to be a constant theme, from the lunches that we were provided everyday by some of the teachers, to providing gifts to thank us for our work at the end of the week.
At the end of each day, we would visit either a school completed in previous years or a candidate for a future project. The teachers were so proud to show us how they had kept their homes since the Foundation had left. Seeing the solar panels at Bukanaga was fantastic. The value of light and power in a region that has neither is immeasurable.
By Friday morning we were tired but elated: the work was done. The Bulera teachers had arranged a ceremony for the handover of the keys. The children danced and sang in their smart uniforms and it was very moving. We presented each of the teenagers and teachers who helped with the work a certificate to thank them for all their help, along with an envelope which contained a small amount of money and a Clarify t-shirt which they were proud to wear. For me, handing over Edrin’s envelope with his pay for the week, into which I’d placed my pens, was something I want to carry with me always.
This was an experience I will never forget. Thank you, Clarify Foundation.