Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Farewell Parties

We threw a 'Farewell' party down at the VSO garden. It was lovely that so many of our Ugandan friends and colleagues came. The staff from the college, colleagues from Case Clinic, UCU staff, the Thunderbirds ladies rugby team, some of the artists that donated their work to the two exhibitions for UCU, VSO's and VSO staff....lots of people who have made our life in Uganda such fun! The rugby girls gave us lots of presents including the barkcloth hats and a shirt for Rob and a dress for me. VSO gave us some baskets and one of Rob's hospital colleagues gave him some wonderfully patterned shirts.

We were invited to join the 'Thunderbirds' ladies rugby team for Sunday lunch by one of the players who is also a referee. The girls had a game of touch rugby and Rob joined in!

The staff at Case Clinic threw a 'Thank you and Goodbye' party on the hospital roof for Rob.There were snacks, beer and soda and Rob had to give a speech! It was fun mainly because it was the first event we have attended where people danced...including Rob!

One of the staff at college said we should not invite them to say farewell but that they should make a party for us- culturally it was not right!! I said it seemed to me to be a good excuse for another party.....college are planning something for next week I am told!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Last Safari!

Here is the most spectacular view from a pool or a bath we have ever had.......across the Karamoja plains watching herds of...not wildebeeste but Jacksons Hartebeeste, zebra, buffalo, jackals, waterbuck, Patas monkeys, it was great! The pool was cut out of the rocks and looked over towards the moutains on the Sudan border. Our last safari was going to be good!

Last weekend we were able to book a flight to Kidepo National Park, the most remote of the parks up on the northern border of Uganda with Sudan. It was wonderful staying at
Apoka Lodge, the only one in the park.As you can see the views over the Karamoja plains were spectacular...from the banda, the outside bath, the pool...everywhere! We saw lots of animals and birds, many while we were sitting in the bar! You can just see the buffalo near our banda!

We were able to do several game drives and saw the lions again after eating a buffalo so they were lying quietly, ignoring us completely looking fat and full! Lots of birds to add to my list! We went on a night drive and saw Cerval cats and a Genet cat.....quite unusual. We were also able to go on walks and saw these hartebeeste....what will we see back in Saltash????

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Christmas 2008

Certainly no chance of a 'white Christmas' for us this year although the first few days when we arrived in Melborne were pretty cold!We spent a few days enjoying Melborne and were able to celebrate Alice's (daughter) birthday and meet some of her friends. We set off to drive along the 'Great Ocean Road'. The views were stunning and we stayed at some lovely places along the way.

We walked in the rainforest...different vegetation from the forests we have seen in Uganda.

Above is the photo of the Twelve Apostles we have seen so many times when Alice has had visitors, this time with us in the photo!

Then we met up with Edward's (Alice's partner) parents in the Grampian mountains. More wonderful scenery, different again with spectacular views, waterfalls and rock formations.
It was a great weekend and another beautiful place.

Then we flew with Alice to spend Christmas with Robert's cousins in Perth. The weather was hot and I achieved my dream of eating Christmas lunch out in the garden with ham and turkey cooked on the barbeque! It was a lovely family party. On Boxing day we travelled with them to the Karri valley to spend a few days in a lovely quiet chalet in the forest, this time Karri trees with Kookaburra's and Kangaroos! We walked high in the trees (40m) on a slightly swaying walkway which was a bit scarey! Trees still towered above us!

It was a great trip and we are now back in
Kampala packing and sorting ready to return to the UK on February 18th. The adventure will be over!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Student Activities 2

We invited our 'Ugandan Family' for a meal to celebrate the successful end to their teaching practice. We went to the hotel up the road and enjoyed a good meal followed by Italian ice cream down at the Italian cafe!! Lovely!!

Rob and I helped to finance an educational excursion for some students, something children and students here have very little experience of.

We arranged a visit to the museum in Kampala which is a bit old fashioned and 'tired' but has some interesting exhibits about the culture and history of East Africa. Then we went to the Entebbe Wildlife Education Centre which was the old zoo but they are trying really hard to develop open spaces where the animals can be seen in a more natural environment. The Colobus monkeys above are free to roam. The students seemed to have fun and say they learned. I will see when they hand in the assignment I set on how educational visits support learning.

This is the Dean of Students who came with his son who was not very impressed with the donkey ride!!

Student Activities

The staff at college were asked to attend a workshop on module writing. A bit late really as we were expected to hand in our completed modules several weeks ago! Apparently they are to assist other colleges to write their modules. As my teaching time here now is so short I had said to the Principal that I would not attend. I also asked her if the Diploma class could work with me to present a workshop to all the college students on Inclusive Education in Uganda. 'Oh, yes!' she said enthusiastically, 'You could do it on Friday while we are all away at the module writing workshop.' So with 3 days to prepare they worked to prepare teaching charts and I worked with the certificate students to rehearse some role plays to illustrate all the categories of special needs pupils. All the staff were away (only Brother Vincent - Vice-Principal and me left in college) so I was very unsure many students would even attend! However after Mass we began, we didn't even let them go for break incase they disappeared!! To my delight there were a good number of students and they stayed until we finished around one o'clock!

It turned out to be very successful with many students saying they had learned a lot. I did some follow up with some of my classes this week and they do seem to have a better understanding of how Uganda is encouraging inclusion and the many challenges with huge class sizes and lack of qualified staff. What impressed me was the developing confidence and ability of the student teachers presenting to a big audience.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Random Photos

Since we arrived here we have been constantly amazed at what can be transported on a bicycle. Up to 8 folded foam mattresses, nine crates of soda, 7 bunches of matoke, an uncountable number of empty plastic jerry cans and several large sacks of charcoal to mention but a few. Here is Joseph's bed on his bike when he moved to a new job!
Rob also took some photos of the opening of the new classroom. Here I am, 'Madam Janice' in smart suit checking out the learning areas!
We were invited to St. Lawrences schools and colleges for their show and installation of the Vice President of Uganda as Chancellor. The 1,400 students put on a marching display, each school or campus has a 'Guard' and we sang many anthems! They started two hours late but the speeches were fairly short which was good and we were given a cake and a bottle of soda. Another new experience for us. The schools and the University are all private and very expensive, a very different environment compared to some of the schools I have visited. The difference between those who have and those who do not, is huge!

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Model Classroom

After visiting classrooms in schools where students were on teaching practice I was concerned at how 'learner unfriendly' they were. I was aware that many classrooms were little better than 'cattle sheds' with little or nothing to encourage learning, with very few learning aids. I felt that if our students were to be prepared to teach in better schools or at least to set an example in schools, they needed to see what a 'good classroom' looked like!
This room was available so I wrote a proposal with a request for just over 300,000Ug shillings (about £100) to create a 'model classroom'. Windows were replaced and it was painted.

The building began to look like a proper classroom! The inside was painted and the task was to prepare it in time for Graduation....a week away!
We set up learning areas including a music corner with instruments made of plastic containers, empty coffee tins and a biscuit tin!

The art department had produced a 'papier mache' giraffe and the communication and technology department had charts showing fish made with earth and digestive systems made with crushed chalk and sand. There was a 'man' made with banana fibres and some science 'big books' donated by a UK charity. With a nature table and a flannel board made with an old towel bordered with shells , the science area was ready!
A reading tree and books made by students plus professionally produced books, puppets and story cards with mats made using local materials......a reading corner to encourage children to enjoy books!
It was hard work getting the room ready but with the help of the students I hope we have an ongoing resource that all can learn from. I hope our student teachers will take the ideas out to their schools and so improve the learning environment for many children.