I would first like to say thank you on behalf of myself and the rest of the West Sussex Uganda 2017 Contingent for you generous donations towards our project work on this trip of a lifetime. I know I speak for myself and others when I say that it has been the best 3 ½ weeks of my life to date. I have been in scouting for 14 years and have done some amazing things, none of which come close to this.
We started off by having a couple of days in Kampala to settle in to the country before heading off to Jinja along the River Nile for a couple of days. In Kampala we met Cleopatra John and John May which was an honour to be with two people of such high calibre in the scouting community. We could not have asked to camp in a more beautiful place, right on the river. In Jinja we went white water rafting down the Nile which was one of the most exciting and adrenaline rushing activities I have taken part in. After a couple of days in Jinja we went up to Mubende which was the location of our project work.
The main reason to go to Uganda was for this reason, to build a kitchen for a school and dig them a fresh water bore hole. We managed to complete both these projects in the allotted time which was a good achievement. After meeting these children and teachers it became clear that I made the right decision going to help them have what they deserve.
The school itself is set on a steep hill with around 6 classrooms, housing over 30 children each. We immediately started to help the Ugandan builders who we were helping build the kitchen and borehole. At the borehole we were tasked with removing all the dirty water from the well so it filled with clean water, this was done all by hand with a bucket and wooden winch. After all the dirty water was removed the wall had to be lined with bricks and mortar. The bricks had to be carried down from the pile at the top of the hill and the mortar and to be mixed by hand using a garden hoe. The builder who was laying the bricks was doing it without tools and without any safety rope. After the bricks had been laid we helped put the lid on that contained the pump, which we had to connect the pipes to so it could bring up the clean water at the bottom of the well. After this was done the Uganda builders created the surrounding of the pump and smoothed the concrete out making the excess water pumped up run off into the land. The concrete was engraved with ‘Donated By Sussex Scouts UK/Uganda’ commemorating it’s opening.
At the kitchen we had to mix large amounts of mortar all by hand, to mix the mortar we had large piles of sand and dirt that we had to get several wheelbarrows full of and dump in a pile we then had to add a few bags of cement powder and add water until it reached the required consistency. This meant that it took much longer to mix because we had to use hoes and spades. Another thing we had to do was to hand carry hundreds of bricks over to the builders, so they could lay them. The Ugandan bricks are all handmade and sometimes aren’t made very well so break apart easily, this meant that we had to pick out the non-broken ones and be very careful when putting them down as not to break them. Some of us were also allowed to help the builders lay the bricks; this was done using plumb lines and other rudimentary tools to make sure the building was of high quality as possible. The health and safety of the site wasn’t regulated so the scaffolding was long sticks lashed together with string. There was also no safety equipment like hard hats or safety ropes. The floors of the two rooms had to be smoothed by had firstly using logs to compact the ground and then a flat piece of wood to smooth the concrete placed on the floor. The plastering technique used was a very skilled one, with the plasterer throwing the mortar onto the wall and then smoothing it out, we could barely do it. The finished kitchen looks absolutely amazing and leaves the school with proper catering facilities to help improve the education of the school.
During the project work it was my birthday and I genuinely couldn’t think of a better way to spend my birthday than this. It was very hot and very hard work but the reward at the end of it out weighed everything we had done along the trip. One of my favourite bits about this trip was meeting and spending time with the residents over there. Walking with the priest and his family, playing football with the village football team, teaching the kids English children songs like the hokey-cokey, getting taught new songs from the kids, all of this was the reason I went, and all of this is the reason I will go again.
After a couple of tough weeks on the project it was complete and time to say goodbye to Mubende and all of the amazing people I met while I was there. We headed over to the Queen Elizabeth National Park where we took part in three game drives, a water safari and chimp trek. All of these were amazing, it was great to see the animals in their natural environment. After all this we went to a lake named Lake Nabugabo. This was a nice time to relax at the beach, made me want to never leave.
Back to Kampala for our last few nights, this was when it hit us that we were at the same place we started. We had a good relaxing time making the most of our last few days. We went to a place near Entebbe Airport called Banana Village for our final night. This was a great night to make our last. Our final day we spent in the pool and around the resort enjoying our last night in Africa. The whole trip was the best trip I will probably ever experience in my lifetime.
I would once again like to thank you for your sponsorship and support in giving us a once in a lifetime experience.
The West Sussex Uganda Contingent