This was our first full day in Jinja. Most of the team had been involved with decorating the interior of Kathy’s centre last year. We were thrilled to make another visit there today to see how things had progressed. We were not disappointed. In fact the last 2 or 3 weeks have seen huge strides forward.
The kindergarten is now fully operational. The headmaster, Basil, was so excited to explain how the main classroom has been set out into 10 learning centres. He described how each activity centre involved the kids in a fun activity with a learning objective. The techniques are quite unusual for Uganda, but we were able to see just how engrossed the kids were. We were told about one child had gone missing from home last Saturday (a non-school day) and had been later found trying to make their own way to school – they could not bear the thought of not going that day.
Then there was the progress with an outside play area. This had been designed and built by Oliver from Cool Canvas, together with an Act for Africa work party. They had all come from the UK especially for this project. The area included an activity tree which needed to be surrounded by sand; a water flow which used rain collected water to flow through a bed of stones and ended up watering a plant growing area; an outside home area with a mud kitchen and shop counter all designed for imaginative play. Joan and Phil set too spreading sand around the activity tree. A small team from NVI, led by the wonderful Japheth, were helping with creating this outside play area.
The goat compound was occupied by 20 goats, 7 of which were newly born. They looked strong and healthy and have their own state of the art housing unit so they have protection when the heavy rains fall. They are cross breeding a larger breed of goat with the smaller local ones. In about a year’s time they will be able to start generating an income from this project.
We watched the brick makers at work, they were using an eco-technique that used very little cement and could be cured in two weeks without firing which saves precious wood. These will be used for the new building going up on the site.
Once the introductions were over we were able to pass on some toys and books that had been donated for the project. Eddie distributed his woollen dolls, crazy wigs and of course lollies. There were lots of good conversations with Patrick, Oliver, Japheth, Basil and the other teachers.
It was soon time for the 1 hour journey back to Jinja. The road is still under construction, but is in a much better state than 12 months ago. We were fascinated to see a roadside stone quarry with men and women breaking up huge boulders to make the stones for the road hard-core. Everyone was taking every opportunity to earn a few extra shillings.
The afternoon was spent in Jinja changing money, having lunch at the popular cafe, The Source and having a first venture around the shops. More of that later . . .