Friday, 22 August 2014

Thank you and Farewell!

Hello everybody.

I have arrived safely back to the UK and this marks my last blog post. So, first a thank you if you have been keeping up with my life in Uganda every so often. It is still hard for me to believe that it has come to an end.

P.6 Class at breaktime.
As I said in my previous blog post, July was the time where I had to say goodbye to my Primary Six class. It has never been easy teaching up to 100 children especially with such a huge age range. My youngest in the class were 11 and my eldest were 16.  This meant that some had a pretty confident level of English and for others it was much harder. So teaching involved patience and perseverance! When I first arrived to start teaching maybe only three quarters of the class would listen and complete the work whilst the other quarter would be disruptive. I eventually won them all over by being “A very nice Madam today” to then be “Strict Madam” when they were not behaving well. I hardly ever raised my voice because I just sound stupid when I shout so I had to learn the skill of projecting my voice and silencing 100 children! I seemed to gain their approval when things didn’t quite go to plan – such as falling on my bum in the mud outside the classroom, occasionally getting my words in a muddle when teaching, a spelling mistake and drawing awful animal diagrams on the chalkboard that made me wonder if going on to art college is such a good idea... I feel that to them, because I’m white with “yellow hair and goggles” (goggles meaning glasses…) they thought I was someone very different to them so it was being relaxed and making a mistake now and then that made them realise I was just like them.
Teaching was definitely a bigger challenge than I first expected but well worth the effort and time. I am very proud of my class for working so well and their English has improved so much that I had a few people who live near the school telling me that the students actually talk to each other in English outside of school rather than in their local language of Rutooro. This is a huge step upwards as English is rarely spoken outside of the classroom. All aspects of their English improved and that is what I came out to Uganda to achieve.

Home Again.
The remainder of my time in July was spent at Home Again orphanage. We did art club endlessly! I even played a few games of basketball with the younger ones, which didn’t go too well as they refused to learn the rules and when I scored a goal for my team instead of celebrating they accused me of “stealing the ball.” I quickly learnt that it was better to not score goals and to just pass the ball on to someone in my team!

The penultimate week in Kaihura was when it really sunk in that we were leaving and that we would not be living in Uganda forever. That is when we all started to find each day very difficult on an emotional scale. The first time it sunk in was when I was doing art club. It was one of those days where I was on a bit of a short temper as it was one of the hottest days I had experienced in a while, the sun was burning us even though we were in the shade, the children were in a particularly hyperactive mood and had forgotten their manners so were up screaming in my face, “Bella! Bella! Paper! Paper! Give me paper! Bella! I want a pencil. Give me pencil! Bella he has my pencil. Belllaaaaaaa!!!! Paper! And me and me and me and me paperrrr.” So I was smiling trying to give out paper as fast as I could and eventually it calmed down and I had about 30 seconds to breath. We do art club on the steps outside the dorms as we have no tables, so I was sitting on the top step glaring at them all/ looking at them lovingly as I can be annoyed with them but I can never stay angry for long and I realised as high maintenance these children are in a week or two I am not going to have them in my life everyday, for every week, for another year… Then Margaret cut her toe on a stone and started screaming and Joseph stole Vincent’s pencil with lead to a few tears and a few firm words from me to resolve it and thennnn… I lost it! I gave the paper to Jodie (one of my Project Trust partners) to take over and had to go and sit at the bottom of the hill for a little while. People tell you about all the amazing people that you will meet on a year overseas and how the hardest part is settling in but no one emphasizes how difficult or emotionally scarring it is to leave!! And also how it tends to hit you all at once, not gradually. From then onwards, I think for all of us, every time we spent time with the children we were practically holding back tears.

What the children found difficult was that they were so used to having us around. We may have gone away for a weekend of the odd week or two in the holidays but we always came back. During my year there have been a few short-term volunteer teams and they have done really great work in Kaihura. When they were here, we suddenly become “old news” but when they left they would be waiting for us again. It was hard to communicate to the children that this time when we go away we are not coming back. (I hope to go back to Uganda but sadly it will not be in a week or two!)

Saying goodbyes to everyone in Kaihura really brought into focus how many friends I have made over the last year. Ugandan’s from my experience are not as free and open with their emotions as people in the UK so when some of our adult friends started crying it was the very last thing we were expecting!

For our last week in Uganda we went to Jinja to unwind and relax. Almost all of the Project Trust volunteers were there so it was really nice for us all to have a catch up.

Being back in England has been slightly mind-blowing.

Playing at Home Again.
All year I have mostly had to cook with only 8 ingredients – Pasta, rice, flour, oil, tomatoes, onions, cabbage and avocado. (A very exciting, rare find would be some green peppers, potatoes or a cauliflower!) So can you imagine how strange it would feel to me walking into a Tesco where there is food everywhere…

Two things I need to stop doing now that I’m back in the UK are:

1. Greeting strangers in the street.
I have come to notice that I will either be ignored or looked at like I’m scary when I walk past some one and say, “Hello! How are you?!”

2. Sitting on the floor.
In most public areas there are chairs available so I no longer need to sit on the floor. I also caused my friend some embarrassment when I suddenly decided to sit on the floor in the middle of Topshop…


My year living and working in Uganda has been phenomenal. I have met the most welcoming, caring, unique people that have become some of the best friends I shall ever have. Living in such a different country took a while to adjust to but has been such an irreplaceable experience with many challenges but I have learnt so much from it. I went out to Uganda hoping to give as much as I could to the people I would be working with but I did not realise how much Uganda and its people would give to me. Every hardship I faced would be made up with many more positives. I have come home feeling like I have achieved more than I thought I could and knowing that I have left something very good. It has been so satisfying watching my class grow in confidence with their English and on a more personal level watch the children grow up at Home Again orphanage. They have been the best of friends to me and it was heartbreaking to leave them.

I have also watched the charity Bringing Hope To The Family expand. It is a fantastic charity set up by a wonderful lady called Faith who always kept an eye out for us over the year. It consists of Home Again Orphanage, Hope Again Medical Centre, Hope Academy Primary School, Village Art (Cafe, Workshop, Craft Shop, Bridal Boutique and Hair Salon), a vocational school and the Bringing Hope To The Family Offices. Without Faith setting up this charity which started on 5,000 Ugandan Shillings (£1.25) there would be a lot of homeless, unloved children. So I would like to thank Faith and everyone who works for Bringing Hope To The Family for all their inspiring work.

Please check out their website for more news:

Another charity I have witnessed excellent work from is Know Think Act. It works directly with Bringing Hope To The Family and has been a great sponsor for them.

Please check it out if you'd like to learn more about their work. -

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog posts. I hope they have been interesting and given you a detailed account of my year. I've had a fantastic year!

Love Bella. (Amooti.) xx

Monday, 28 July 2014

Last day teaching at Kaihura pink Primary School.

Class photo with P.6. 85 but still missing a few!

Gave lollies out for my last day.

Playing hangman at a rainy breaktime.

Rainy breaktime.

Saying goodbye.

My time in Uganda is coming to an end and it is my last week in Kaihura at my project. So on Friday I shall be having to say goodbye to the most wonderful friends I have made out here. Just thinking about it makes my eyes water and on Saturday I had to get up and leave my Art Club at Home Again Orphanage for a few minutes to compose myself! It will be so difficult.

I have not written out a blog post before typing it up which I prefer to do or I forget to include things... So I'm going to keep this brief and in August I shall type up a big conclusive blog.

The photos above are of my P.6 class. On my last day there were 85 pupils which was not my full class. 85 is quite an easy number to manage!

It was such a wonderful day. My class sung me songs, I gave out lollies, we took photos, the headteacher said some lovely things about me too. Then as a really special surprise my class had all saved up to buy me a beautiful bag and a necklace which meant so much to me. The whole day made me realise (probably for the first time out here) that I have been out here for quite a long time!! It was odd hearing the words, "Thank you for being a teacher for one year." My life here is so busy all the time that I have never really had the chance to stop and let what is happening around me sink in. So this was the day where it did sink in and I thought of all the work I have done this year, the good times and the difficult times and I felt very proud and very loved by everyone.

I shall write again soon but hope the photos are enough for now!

Love Bella.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

June update.


June started off as an incredible month. I went with quite a few other volunteers to the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Kampala to watch Uganda play Madagascar. In true African style (which is being late for everything) most of the fans turned up at half time! But when they did all arrive the stadium was nearly full. The atmosphere was unlike anything I have ever experienced. Every Ugandan was decked out in the Uganda Cranes football shirts (as were we!) or at least in the ugandan colours with flags, horns, trumpets and facepaint! The stadium was alive with the buzz of the trumpets (think South African world cup noise!). I had a red trumpet and was joining in all the noise. I only saw 2 Madagascar fans. 
This match was also the first football match I have ever watched. I'm happy to say that Uganda won with one goal. When they scored the goal people started spraying beer and water everywhere. It was very funny. We saw all of the players get onto their bus (they do not travel in style! It was a very old battered bus) and one player tried to give me his victory T-shirt out of the bus window but i couldn't quite get close enough because all these people saw and came running and I would have certainly been trampled!
The football match was my favourite day in Uganda. I also got in the newspaper and on the TV! I bought a copy of the paper. There is a good photo in there haha.
Otherwise I have just been in the village teaching and working at the orphanage. My class are still working very hard but they never revise so forget things which is annoying. I do not think they get time to revise as they go home and have to collect water, make a fire, wash clothes and look after younger siblings. It is hard to find a solution. Some do not live near school. They have to walk so far.

Peeling potatoes!
Also this month has been quite overwhelming. I am used to being one of the only white people around, then suddenly all of these short-term volunteers appeared! In total I think around 48!!! I went to home again orphanage and there were so many white people I suddenly felt very shy and didn't really know what to do! I still feel a bit weird to be honest! From being 5 of us to 48 then 53 including us was a shock. And a shock to the village too! One team has moved on now so that's about 19 down and the rest are here for 2 months in total. They are nice but I have not met them all yet. They are from Duke University in America and mostly work up at Steph's school. 
It feels odd saying we have been here for nearly 10 months! We watched the world cup match USA vs. Germany (in a shed. Yes. I watch it in a shed with rats in but it's fantastic!). Now that England are out I'm supporting Germany so I was very outnumbered by all the Americans but when Germany scored the goal it was good fun for me!!

On a sadder note the boarding children who live outside our house killed our cat with sticks... We all got very angry at them and told the children not to talk to us and they didn't like that. So we refused to talk to them for a week then the other day they brought us a new cat. So I think they have understood their wrong doing. I hope so because it is a bit disturbing children killing animals... Jodie and Lauren are going to start teaching Ethics at their school as they clearly do not understand. I went on a rescue mission to find the dead cats kittens so they will get bigger and keep the rats away. All I ever wanted when I was a child was a cat, never got one (I hold no grudge, I really do not like cats any longer) but this year in Uganda I have managed to have 9 cats at one time or another... I actually never liked any of them and I try to remember why I wanted a cat so badly! I probably thought they were cuddly but these ones just hiss and spit at me, meow all night and get into our food cupboard!!

July will be a busy month. It is my last full month in the village. Our good friend Kate who has been in Uganda for just over a year is leaving very very soon, that will make us all very sad! Then we just have a lot going on but it is good to be busy. 

I myself, do not have that much time left in Uganda so am trying to make the most of it. Yet we are all running out of energy a bit but we shall keep pushing till the end!

I hope the sun has come out in the UK! It is the British Grand Prix next week and I am very sad to not be there but I have already saved up for my ticket for next year so I shall look forward to that!!

Love Bella.
Amooti. X

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Art Club

I have now set up an art club as my secondary project at the orphanage. To do this I spent some time making "how to draw" sheets of various things such as frogs, helicopters, horses etc and eventually managed to find somewhere to get them laminated.  I was really keen to get the sheets laminated so they would last for a long time and at least I know I'll be leaving them something useful to use and enjoy,once I've gone.

The children really enjoy this club and love using the sheets as before they mostly drew flowers and scribbles!  So now its great to see them learning some new things, and you can see in the photos how much they concentrate!

Art Club

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Food, food, food....

The problem with being a volunteer in Uganda is that you can become slightly obsessed with food...

It involves sitting around the table in your house with your housemates talking about food. What food you like... What food you wish you could make out here... How amazing supermarkets are... How you used to hate school food but now you sit there wondering why on earth you did not eat the bright yellow fish paella? :) Maybe someone says, "Oh my mum makes THE best roast potatoes!" Then an uproar breakes out telling the other person that in actual fact it is YOUR mum that makes the best roast potatoes. It involves eating rice and concentrating so hard that the rice might actually taste like bacon if you try hard enough. It involves writing a letter home to your family with demands of what the fridge MUST hold when you arrive home and what recepies you want to be making until you go to uni.

Then, today, it involved being in Kampala at a cafe that had four different types of pizza slices... What to do? How about try every type...?

So today I ate veggie pizza, sausage pizza, ham pizza (twice) and beef pizza...

It's sad, isn't it!!

Friday, 9 May 2014


Chimp Trekking.

Queen Elizabeth National Park.

A baboon!

Gorilla Trekking.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Uganda Travels

Hi all,

I never really talk about things I do when I'm not busy running around the place volunteering so from now on I shall try to remember to tell you about my travels and weekends etc.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I was heading off for a short break to Jinja. 
This is how it started -

We decided to leave at 8am however due to everyone being very much adjusted to "Arfican Time" we left at 8:30am. (African time is basically where time is non-existent. If you are going to meet someone at 10am you yourself may turn up at 10:20am then the other person will turn up sometime later. When we first arrived in Uganda we were always prompt but eventually we caught on to the way of life here!) 

We all squeezed into a salon taxi car passing our village to Kyenjojo Town where we swapped to a Matatu (the white and blue taxis) to Kampala. For once this matatu had about a half inch extra leg room than normal so the 5 hour journey was positively pleasant and there were no screaming babies. However what was rather unfortunate was this poor chicken...  This alive chicken had had its legs tied together and was hanging down the outside of my window. Speed limits are also non-existent so here I was, sitting for hours staring at this upside-down chicken blowing around in the wind, sometimes it had its eyes open looking terrified and other times I thought it had died as it closed its eyes. It did survive the journey but the next thing for it was probably a Boda ride through Kampala. 

How a chicken travels in Uganda!
We heard about this new shopping mall - Accacia Mall in Kampala with confirmation of an actual KFC! We arrived and the advertising of the KFC man was plastered across the window. I don't think I have ever seen us all smile so wide! In we went and it was a legit KFC with the big poster menus and a shopping till that the money goes in. (Haven't seen those in a long time!) We were all acting like little children excited about what to pick. It felt like we were in England. Nothing Ugandan looking about KFC. I  ordered two bits of chicken, large fries, Coca-Cola and an icecream that had a chocolate flake in it!!! The fries were just heaven! I know this probably all sounds over the top about how excited we were but this kind of food has not been accessible to us all year. Even just getting the food in the little boxes was fun! We then went to explore the mall which was an experience in itself. It was all so shiney! There was a water fountain and GLASS LIFTS! We didn't need to use one but by this point we were all a bit over excited. The other girls went "ooohhhhhhhhh" as we went down a floor in the lift. It is experiences like this when I wonder with slight terror how we will cope back in the UK when we are faced with such novelties as shopping malls, escalators, then the day to day things like an oven, a fridge, a TV, hot water and constant electricity. Even carpet...
KFC - Yummy!!
So after that excitement we went to the Jinja Taxi Stage in Kampala where the drivers started beating each other up and blocking our way into the taxi as they argued who's taxi we would go in... This happens a lot. It gets rather dull. 
New Taxi Park in Kampala
We arrived in Jinja and got to Nile River Camp which is without a doubt my favourite place to stay in Uganda. 

We settled into our room and spent the evening relaxing on the comfy sofas and watching the sunset over the River Nile. I had a delicious plate of nachos too. In total it took us 7 hours to travel to Jinja. 
A beautiful sunset over the River Nile
 We stayed at the Nile River Camp for four night so that meant three whole days there. We went swimming, read a few books etc. It was nice to just relax. On one of the evenings we went out to get a pizza, others went to get a curry then we met up at this chilled out bar called Flavours where there was a live band playing outside. The music was really good, very jazzy and fun plus it was a nice warm night so we stayed out until the band stopped. I also bumped into someone I spent New Years Eve with in Jinja so it was nice to catch up. It's always nice seeing a familiar face in Uganda! It was a really fun, relaxed night. 

Time went very fast in Jinja but other Project Trust volunteers kept arriving and some of them I have not seen since December. So it was cool seeing them all. On the last night we went to this amazing restaurant called The Black Lantern where I went full out and ate three courses. (and now have a much smaller bank account...) But it was so worth it! I ate baked breaded mozzarella, T-Bone steak with potato wedges and vegetables then a honey cake. I wish I ate like this more often!

The journey back consisted of my friend Jess singing loudly to Justin Beiber on the radio, not just one chicken but a whole roof of chickens on the taxi, a quick stop in Kampala for a delicious chicken pie and cookie then the smallest taxi I have ever had to fit my legs in back to my project. 

Back to rice and veg haha! So that was my trip to Jinja. I think I should stop being so focused about the food but I get carried away... 

I may possibly be going down to Kabale near the end of the holiday to visit Lake Bunyoni and the volunteers down there. I am yet to decide (and I need to count up my Shillings!)

That is all for now. 
Speak soon!

Bella xxx

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

April Update

April update.

Hello, sorry it's been a while since I posted a blog. 

I'll start with the bad news! Project Trust have decided to stop sending volunteers into Uganda meaning that we are the last volunteers here. This makes me very sad as I feel that we are really needed and appreciated out here. It's odd to think that no one will be living in our house after we leave, carry on our work of teaching and no one to play and entertain the children at Home Again orphanage. 
The Uganda projects are being cancelled due to repeated problems confirming our 12 month working visas and this has been a problem for many previous years in Uganda. So I imagine our year was the last trial for it. So no more Uganda...

In other news...

For my Secondary Project I started working at the craft workshop, however when I started sewing and cutting fabric I then remembered why I stopped textiles after GCSE. I really dislike sewing!!
During this time I had also set up an art club at Home Again and after trying the workshop I decided to focus more on this and making it into my Secondary Project. I do art club every Wednesday and so far I have just given them the freedom of pencils and paper and showing them things to draw one to one, but this can get pretty hectic..! Therefore I spent many afternoons after teaching making "How to draw..." sheets from a book I used when I was younger whilst adding my own ideas. They are step by step guides of words and pictures. I imagined how these art sheets would be received by the children and pictured the end of art club having the floor covered with the sheets ripped and bent from the children all fighting over them = a waste of my hours! So in Fort Portal I found a tiny shop that offers laminating so yesterday I laminated them all (so they are now child proof!) and shall take them to art club tomorrow. I will take some photos and try to upload a few onto this blog.

I'm hoping that by the time I leave (little over 100 days) I will have made even more art sheets and I'm also in the process of making snakes and ladders boards! I want to make other games too. My idea is to get a cupboard made for the children's house at Home Again and to fill it with art sheets, games and pencils so that they have things to do in their free time when we are not there to be with them. Hopefully I can think of more ideas for the cupboard in the next few months. This is my main focus for the remainder of my time in Kaihura.

What else?

About a month ago a puppy was shoved through the bars of our window... What could we do? It was so tiny we had no option but to keep him. None of us are particularly fond of him. We named him Gimli (apparently someone from Lord of the Rings?). At least Frodo (the other dog) has another dog to play with. Frodo has turned into quite a nice dog but he is a complete wimp!

At the beginning of April my family came to visit me! So on the 6th April I left Kaihura and had the long, very hot, tedious journey to Entebbe. Entebbe Airport has very high security so unless you pay for a private hire (I wish!) you have to walk in - it's not a short walk! Because I knew I would have to walk the distance I arrived at the airport around 6:30pm as I didn't want to walk in the dark. My family's flight was due to arrive at 10:50pm. You can probably imagine how slow time goes when you haven't seen your family for over 7 months! Although luckily it was at that time the Bahrain Grand Prix live so I could read the trusty BBC Live Texts on my phone! After that I killed time by eating many beef samosas (soooo good!), people watching, reading an F1 book on my kindle and half watching a football match on the cafe TV that wasn't really that interesting... EVENTUALLY it was an hour until their flight landed so I went downstairs to Arrivals but again, due to high security no one is allowed to wait inside so I waited outside with about 100 Ugandans. The screen showed that their flight had landed then everything just became very stressful because you could see people in the distance through the glass windows collecting bags and in my excited state I kept making people who look nothing like my family look like them so basically for about an hour I would get very excited everytime a tall white person walked out of the doors, only to see that person didn't actually look anything like my family. So when my brother was walking towards the doors I didn't quite trust my eyes. Turns out it was him and the rest followed! It was fantastic to see them. Even more so when I was given a Crunchie and an F1 magazine! The Crunchie was a struggle to finish, it was just so rich and sickly - chocolate is somewhat of a novelty to me out here. The next hour consisted of a lot of questions and me trying to eat all of their chicken sandwiches from the plane. (I probably haven't mentioned in previous blog posts how much all of us (the volunteers) talk and dream of food. Food here is so so limited and something like a chicken sandwich would be a crime to waste!)

The next day we went to a real supermarket like the ones in UK (the supermarket in Kaihura is a room of basic stuff like rice, flour, oil etc) and my family bought me some hot chocolate and Nutella!! Then we left fancy Entebbe and spent all day travelling on public transport. My brother struggled with the lack of leg room even more than me!
The funniest part of the journey was when the bus stopped and "chicken on a stick" was shoved through the window nearly poking my sisters eye out! I forgot to warn them about the food stops...

We arrived at Jinja which is my favourite place in Uganda. It's just so chilled out and less hectic than other places. 

So in short we went white-water rafting on the grade 5 rapids which I would describe as TERRIFYING! But awesome all the same. We flipped the boat so badly and ended up half flying/half drowning in the Nile! 
We then visited my friends Abi and Jess' project in Myanze, then later arriving at my project in Kaihura. It was really great for my family to see and experience what my life is like out here, also seeing my school and meeting all the children in the orphanage and just for them to meet my friends out here.

After Kaihura we spent two days in Fort Portal and Fort Portal also marked the end of our use of public transport! From then onwards we were with a safari company so we had a nice spacious taxi! 

We went chimp trekking which I loved as it's always been a dream to trek through a rainforest. We stayed at a really nice lodge with great food and the biggest bed I've ever seen plus the added bonus of HOT water! 

After trekking we travelled down to Queen Elizabeth National Park which is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. I can't believe I live only 4 hours from it! 
This lodge we stayed at had a BATH!!! But no hot water, even so, I wanted to sit in a bath so I had a cold bath...

We did a game drive which was awesome and a boat ride where we saw so many hippos, crocodiles, birds, elephants etc etc. Seriously cool! On our drive back the road was blocked by a herd of elephants so we stayed to watch them. In total at Queen Elizabeth we saw 35 elephants up-close!

Finally we ended up in Biwindi which is very south and compared to where I live, Very Cold! (This lodge had a bath with HOT water!!) We were there to go Gorilla Trekking. For people who know me well "Bella" and the word "Trekking" are not well suited. However I did just about make it up the mountain and we ended up standing in plants taller than us but standing about 2 meters away from a huge male Silverback Gorilla just going about his business (eating) and not paying us much attention. Then he got bored of us and just walked straight towards us fully expecting us to clear the way for him. Obviously we did not get in his way. We found all his family. It was an amazing experience.

Then it was time to head back to Entebbe and time to say goodbye! And for me - back to public transport with screaming babies, no leg room, windows that do not open and meat on a stick being shoved in my face everytime the taxi stopped. It was also the end of a solid 10 days where meat was always on my plate! Back to tomatoes and onions and if we are lucky a cabbage! But still, it's my life and I like it!

Steph, who is one of my housemates has her mum and auntie visiting and they brought out soooooooo many Mini Eggs. For Easter we made egg tokens in team colours, then were given teams to find them then at the end we all got a few eggs as a prize. The Home Again children (even the older boys and girls) faces were priceless as they were running around looking for egg clues. It was so lovely! My team finished 3rd fastest.

So that's April...

Also I just would like to thank you if you have sent me an email in the last month. I have not been able to reply as Microsoft is obviously confused that I am in Uganda and has blocked my emails. So I have been able to read them but I cannot reply so I'm really sorry about that.

My plans for May? Well we are on school holidays now and on Friday a load of us are travelling to Jinja for a few days of relaxing. I was only there about three weeks ago but I honestly love it there so I'm not complaining at all! 
Then the rest of the holiday time I shall be at Home Again and hopefully I will get round to doing some art. Then of course back to school for my last term of being a teacher!

I hope you all had a nice Easter!

Bella xxx

Monday, 24 March 2014

March Update

Hello everyone!

Believe it or not, it has been quite cold here in the past few weeks. I have often had to wear a jersey which is a bit unfamiliar to me! Realistically it's probably not even cold - I'm just used to being hot all of the time! I have no idea how I'm going to cope with the weather back in England...

The last month has mainly consisted of me being busy teaching, trying to improve my cooking skills then usually being stranded in the house due to consistent rain! So when it is raining we all end up washing clothes (I'm an excellent hand washer now!), cleaning the house or I tend to make lesson plans and have been making a lot of "How to draw..." sheets for my art club.

There are some painting projects that I want to start at Home Again but as of yet I have not been successful as it rains all afternoon and the stuff I want to do is outside... So I shall have to wait for the dry season!

Teaching is going well. I finally reached 100 pupils in my class - still 8 short of a full class though. My class are amazing and make teaching a lot more enjoyable as they work so hard. They did their mid-term exams last week and I had to mark the English exams (not fun!). There was a mixture of marks but I then saw what marks they got in science and realised that English is definitely their best subject. Their marks were so much higher. So I relaxed a tiny bit after that. I feel bad for all Ugandan children though as the exams BARELY relate to anything we are told to teach them. Even I struggled with some answers and they are such random and open ended questions but there is only one correct answer... Made me realise even more how lucky we all are with our education. It is a fair exam system in the UK unlike here...
What I do like about the culture in Uganda when it comes to school is that if your students are enjoying your classes you tend to get gifts of food! Two weeks ago I got 7 avocados, 1 mushroom and something like 30 guavas! Then in general through out my year I have been given a lot of food! 

What else?

I met the Toro Kings brother... So I met a prince... He liked my earrings..!

I have suddenly become very clumsy and keep falling/ tripping over... Which reminds me, I arrived at school in the rain and slipped in the mud and fell on my bum in front of about 200 children at my school! No one laughed which surprised me and my class cheered and gave me a standing ovation when I entered my classroom!!

On the 1st April I would have been here for 7 months. Weeks fly by when your teaching.

In about a space of a week three Ugandans who apparently live locally got killed by getting hit by buses... Honestly they go SOOOO fast. Something needs to get done about speed limits here!!

You have all probably heard about the law being passed about gay couples. Here if you are gay it is seen as a defect and something very negative. I've spoken to many, many Ugandans about it and I have not yet met someone who thinks it is ok to be gay. As they have put it "I'd rather die than be gay". Uganda is a very frustrating country to live in sometimes.......

Also the Ugandan government passed a law that has now made mini skirts and leggings illegal and if any woman has her knees showing you risk getting arrested or as I've heard, stripped-down on the street, which I feel would only expose the knees more...   So, what can I say, it's great to see where the Government's priorities lie............    

My family are coming to Uganda soon to visit me! I'm looking forward to seeing their reactions to Ugandan things that used to baffle me but now seem very normal!

The 2014 Formula 1 season has started so of course I'm over the moon! At least I will get to watch the last half of the season this year!!

Hope all is well wherever you are reading this from.

Love Bella. Xxx

Friday, 28 February 2014

February update

Hello all,

Sorry I have not updated my blog in ages, I'm trying to be careful with my money so haven't travelled anywhere with an internet cafe!

So what has happened in February? 

Someone came and replaced my make-shift water pipe with a real water pipe. I was a bit sad but the water pressure has improved!
Then our gas for cooking ran out before we got paid but luckily our friend Kate helped us out and we ate at her house for a week!

On the 3rd February we all started teaching. I am still teaching P.6 and February is the start of a new school year in Uganda so I have a lovely new class who are keen to learn and are well behaved. Last term I had 92, this term I have 108 but as of yet the most that have turned up are 99 so not quite 100 yet! 

Apart from teaching we have all just been in Kaihura. I'm starting some painting projects at Home Again Orphanage but unfortunately rainy season has just started so I did not pick my timing very well...

Today I witnessed some incredible forked lightning. The other girls were oohhing and aahing but for some unknown reason I have quite a bad fear of thunder and lightning (I know, im 19, not cool) so I was just standing there slightly freaking out... If you have seen the second Hunger Games film picture the lightening hitting the tree. It was like that...

In my last post Im pretty sure I moaned about a load of house pets. The good news is that the kittens learnt to adventure so left the house and didn't come back!!! :D I was thrilled. We have seen them around the village though. The bad news is one of the dogs got run over in front of our eyes... It was quite horrid! So we now have one. I still say I dont want a pet dog but after that incident I was hardly going to make them get rid of the other!! They haven't house trained him but Ive trained him to not come in my room and not to jump on me so really its not much of an issue. 

This month was my 19th birthday. The girls got me some lovely fabric which I have taken to the workshop to get made into a shirt. The day was pretty normal with teaching etc but we made pancakes and Steph bought me a lemon from the market which literally made. my. day!!! You can't get lemons in Kaihura so to have lemon on my pancakes made the day very special!!! And Lauren made me a chocolate birthday cake
! We cooked a good supper and I also got given a Kest soda which is my favourite Ugandan soda. It's like Schwepps bitter lemon but better! So a good birthday.

Otherwise February has not been anything out of the ordinary, we are now just back into the routine.

However we sadly lost a lively, lovely little girl called Juliet. She passed away at the beginning of February. She was a girl from Home Again, 10 years old. She was always so positive and happy even though she was ill. We could all learn a lot from her positive outlook on life. I feel privileged to have had 5 months with her.
Then secondly I have heard sad news of a boy in the year below me at Wymondham who so sadly was in an accident. I did not know him that well but he always had a happy vibe to him around the boarding house and was hard not to notice because of it, so I'm very sorry for his loss. I am thinking of everyone back in Lincoln House.

Tomorrow I would have been living in Uganda for exactly 6 months which I don't think has sunk in yet... What an enriching, crazy and challenging 6 months it has been!!!

Hope all is well in England. 

Love Bella.
Amooti xxx

Friday, 24 January 2014

Can we fix it? Yes I can!

Hello and a happy new year to you all (yes, a bit late I know).

January started with me Zen Tubing down the Nile with Clara and Shannon. It was great fun sitting in a rubber ring then being thrown down the Nile rapids that were grade 3 and grade 4! For lunch we remained in our rubber rings, in the water drinking soda and eating a toasted sandwich taking in the beautiful view of the Nile.In the evening we went on a sunset cruise in a little wooden boat and stopped on a small island on the Nile and also went into a cave! It was a unique way to start 2014.

I then stayed at another volunteers project for a few days and spent a few days in Entebbe. The highlight of Entebbe was the zoo! I got to see so many animals and now officially love rhinos and giraffes. I also had a life time experience of being a monkey... (see below!)

It was then time for me to travel back to my project in Kaihura to discover our door was broken. It looked like someone had tried to break in yet nothing was taken. It seemed it was up to me to fix it.After a good while staring at the door wondering what I could do to fix it I figured that I needed to carve a new groove into the wall opposite to make room for the broken bolt. Using my trusty penknife I achieved making a suitable alteration to the door meaning we can now shut and lock the door securely.

Another thing that was broken was out waterpipe. It had been slashed in two quite severely. Water is a luxury that I did not ask for but was given. It is however, something that I greatly appreciate as it is very nice being able to have a shower when it is very hot.
So now it was my turn to experience an even more basic style of living which involves collecting water from a tap, washing dishes with water from a bottle, long drops and bucket showers all of which I have experienced many times before at other peoples projects , yet having it at my own project took a little while to get used too. I was fine with it but having a tap in the house that you turn on out of habit and no water comes out did get a bit frustrating!!! Also the other girls in the house were not enjoying having no water. We were told that someone would come and fix it for us but in reality, this is Uganda. People are not very good at turning up when they say they will.
The annoying thing was that if I was in England I would be able to fix this pipe. I could just go into my dads workshop, find some piping and secure it with two jubilee clips... However I have not found either of those here. I spent a while thinking of alternative ways that I would be able to fix this pipe. A few ideas sprung to mind but I knew that they would not be strong enough. 

And that's when I saw it... A scrap piece of bamboo. I sat by the pipe and broke off the correct length of bamboo that thankfully was the correct width. Jodie came out of the house and saw me sitting there, bamboo in hand intensely staring at the broken pipe and knew I was on to something.

Minutes later i had fixed the pipe, bamboo slotted inbetween two parts of the broken pipe then tightly secured with gaffatape. The water tank tap was turned on and I ran inside to a tap that now had running water flowing out of it! Honestly, I think the sound of running water is the most beautiful sound I have ever heard! Jodie and I ran around the house screaming with happiness! It was a proud moment! It then seemed that the tap did not like the water and it was leaking everywhere - so I fixed that too.

Fixed water pipe!

The same day 6 of the girls came back to our house after being on a road trip. They were covered in dust!! They had all complained about having no running water so I was a bit put out when I did not receive one single thank you from any of them as they ran off for their showers... Oh well. Maybe my handy skills and thinking outside of the box will one day be appreciated elsewhere!

So for one glorious day we had running water only for it to then suddenly stop. I went to check my pipe alteration - all was fine so I had no idea why the water had stopped and quite honestly I was not feeling too keen to make an effort to find out as I was still a bit annoyed my helpfulness had been ignored. I figured the water had stopped due to bad karma. ;-)
A friend came to look at it and it turns out someone in the village had not paid a water bill (think it was the boarding school) so the whole water system had been switched off. I really don't mind. It's the basic type of project I had signed up for but had not been given so I'm appreciating the new challenges. I do miss a good cold shower but otherwise I have no complaints. It is more difficult to keep our house clean as everything gets so dusty  but we are all still managing to keep it clean. I imagine the water will probably be back on when Term begins and the boarding students are back.
Anyway, I have enjoyed fixing things around the house. I wonder what will break next?!

In other news... Our cat (who I have disliked since week 1. The past volunteers had it) had 4 kittens just before Christmas. The other girls I live with like them and say they are going to keep them. So we are now 4 girls, 5 cats and oh wait - 2 dogs..................
Trust me, I admire the girls for being so animal loving, especially to the two dogs that were found in a ditch but me personally... I'm not feeling so generous, sorry. I don't like cats; they break into our food cupboard and destroy the bread and the dogs are only temporary but i'm now covered in flea bites... So that's life at home.

Life elsewhere in Kaihura is good. I've spent time with the babies and toddlers. In England I do not know any young children on babies so being here was the first time I ever held a child. So for me it has been fascinating and heartwarming to see them all growing up so much in the past (nearly 5) months. Some have started talking and Mark-Duncan took his first steps the other day!!

I know I'm not meant to have a favourite but Mercy is the first child that I made a strong connection with back in September and I'm thrilled to say that she is being adopted! The process is complicated but if all goes to plan she should be moving to America in a few months. I will miss her so much but her new parents are in Kaihura and I couldn't have wished for two more lovelier people to be her parents. I know that she is going to receive so much love and have a wonderful life and I hope to keep in touch with her.

As it is 2014 it is time to start up a Secondary Project. I have spoken to my friend Ruth who works for the Bringing Hope Village Art and she was very happy when i asked her if I could start something there. So I will be helping at the craft shop making products to sell and generate money for Bringing Hope which supports many things including Home Again orphanage. I'm going to start by making gift cards as they do not sell them there then I shall go from there and see what crafts I can learns and make with the girls in the workshop. It is exciting for me to be able to start doing art again as I have really missed it. In my own time I have also started doing my own artwork so I can go to Manchester with some work to show for my year here.

Village Art will be my "official" Secondary Project but I hope I can find time to do art with the children at Home Again too. Then of course I shall be carrying on painting wherever Justuce wants me to around Home Again.

I start teaching again on the 3rd February and I will admit I am rather nervous about teaching again. I'm used to going back to school as the pupil. Not the teacher! On the 13th February it is my birthday so I will be spending it teaching then probably at Home Again. It will be an odd day I think!

Also good news - I am in Kampala now as I was so fed up of my camera being broken I decided to do something about it an d it is now repaired!!! I can start doing photography again <3

Hope all is good in the UK etc etc :)

Love from Bella. 

Christmas Day at Home Again.

These are the photos from Christmas Day.

Christmas lunch with the babies.

My Christmas lunch. Slightly different to last years one...

Rice explosion!

Christmas with Mercy.

Afternoon snooze.

Destruction at Ssese. (Photos following a previous blog post)

This is the hut I woke up in...