A slightly late start saw us arrive at Kijjabwemi Primary School to find the entire school lined up ready to greet us, all 600+ of them!!!! We could only apologise as they had probably been standing in the sun waiting patiently for longer than was comfortable. We were greeted and processed through the lines of children by dancing students in traditional dress. Our attempts to join in were met with laughter and clapping.
Some of our sponsored children attend this school and it was good to see them in class and take a look at their work. Every child seems to have exemplary hand writing and the standard of their lessons is a credit to the school. The standard of discipline in Ugandan Schools is high, it needs to be with 85-90 children per class, and this is reflected in the level of work and behaviour of the children.
As we toured the school we were impressed with the improved condition of the building since our last visit in 2016.This has been achieved by the PTA and local community working together to raise funds. This was something that had been previously discussed with our partners. The desks provided by CHI were clearly marked. There are however still urgent matters that need addressing, not least of which is a new toilet for the boarding students!
Having visited the kitchen the cooks now have even more respect than they did before, their working conditions are hot and smokey but we didn’t realise they also needed to have muscles like Popeye. We could hardly lift the paddle used to stir the Posho, let alone move it in this very thick, gloopy mixture the children eat for lunch.
We met with one of our sponsored children who had not been at the Saturday project as she was in the west of the country visiting her terminally sick mother, her father is already deceased and we had already been informed she had recently tried to commit suicide. Patrick hugged and spoke quietly to this young child aged about 10 years, who was probably one of the saddest children we have ever seen. Such a simple act of comfort that could never happen in the UK today. He took her by the hand and she joined us for a mid morning snack of boiled egg, banana and bread. Then she joined the rest of the sponsored children as they filed in to greet and entertain us with song and dance. Several voluntarily stood and told us how they felt about their sponsorship and the difference it had made to them. The school choir and dance group then came and entertained us all, we refrained from joining in!!!
We were delighted to see Michael who we had met at his home. We had been told he was a ‘naughty’ boy and often skipped school. He seemed more spirited than naughty to us when he climbed a tree to pick Jack fruit when we said we had never tasted it. It was good to see him in school and so smart in his KOP uniform.
We know we should not have favourites but this is so hard when a child pops up round every corner with the biggest smile we have ever seen. You may remember Emmanuel from our Saturday post, we visited his home where he looks after his bed ridden father. In school he is hardly recognisable in his smart uniform; school is where he goes to get away from the realities of his life. Without sponsorship he would not have this opportunity.
Another emotional roller coaster as we enjoyed the entertainment, but knew the heartbreaking realities of the lives of these children. We also saw the real difference sponsorship makes.
Then it was on to the senior school for a quick look round, a couple of our sponsored children attend here. The school is supported by a bigger charity and is reasonably well equipped.
As Patrick had a meeting with the Bishop we had an unexpected afternoon off, after the busyness of the last week we were very grateful for the change of plan.