31 March 2010

Mums Blog Part 2 - My first day at Ndeeba Primary

How do you explain a truly emotional yet wonderful day.  The walk to the school was something else, and right in the middle of one of the slum areas.  It is very hard to believe that people live in those shacks? The paths are very muddy, made even worse after a downpour, with puddles everywhere.  When we arrived at the school we were met with a guard of honour and at the end were 4 young children of different sizes carrying cardboard banners with welcome messages, whilst the rest clapped and sang.  We went into the school hall which is formed from 3 of the classrooms where the partitions have been pulled back, the first time this “hall” has been used. 
I was then Guest of Honour, Mama Nik, Mama Chez and also Mama Dr Nik.  We sat at a table where there was a huge beautifully decorated cake, with bottles of water, coke and orangeade.  We then stood for the national anthem, a prayer and a teacher gave a welcoming speech whilst explaining who I was.  One by one the classes came in groups and sang songs dancing along to them. The little children were adorable.  I did feel the tears coming but I managed not to use a tissue!   This went on class by class for the morning with each class singing songs and dancing,  some songs about how proud they are of their country and being Ugandanese, whilst the rest of the school just sat looking at us and smiling and waving.  It was extremely moving.  We then stopped for lunch and I saw the kitchen (well the cooking area), where they had prepared a stodgy maize mash and bean type of stew, but at least they are now having a hot meal each day.  We had a meal prepared by Rose’s mum.  Rose is the Director of the school and a very very lovely lady.  This school is her life and she works continuously to give these children an education.  When we went back to the school I was given a performance by the school choir in their new outfits which I had bought last year.  They looked beautiful. The drama class performed some song and traditional dance routines, the interactive group some more singing and dancing, and a small group from the drama group read out a news report, that Mama Nik and Dr Nik were visiting the school and were very welcome.   The choir then sang again.  Following all that I received a present  from the school (an artificial flower display which has red and yellow roses with greenery and it was explained to me the significance of the red and yellow flowers etc),  a traditional mat, a beautiful necklace from one of the teachers and a raffia bowl from Rose's mum.  I just hope it all fits into my suitcase.
At the end of the celebration of Dr Nik and Mama Nik's visit, Nikki gave a small speech, where she was then able to tell 2 more teachers that we have sponsors for them!  Out of the blue last night she received an email from a gentleman who already sponsors 2 teachers, to say that he is able to sponsor 2 more and left it to her to choose.  She has chosen one of the male teachers and one of the female teachers.  She hadn’t mentioned this to Rose so you can imagine the eruption in the hall when Nikki told everyone.  They all exploded with cheers, clapping, hugging etc.  It was very emotional to see, and difficult to put into words the obvious delight from everyone there.  This gentleman is a truly amazing man. He is also providing some extra money as he would like the children to have some fruit.  Nikki will get Rose to buy a ton of pineapples which will be an absolute treat for the children and should last about 3-4 days.  They have not had fruit before at the school and as that is what has been requested that is what they will get.  Pineapples are one of the best fruit for keeping and goes a long way and are quite cheap as they are grown here and I have to say they taste really delicious.  What a lovely generous man!

Then I had to cut that beautiful cake and everyone was able to have a piece.  Photos were  taken with the choir and some of the teachers (and I don’t like having photos taken!), anyway I did it and Steven, who I sponsor with Graham (my partner) and Jamie and Emily (my son and daughter in law), came up for one too and shook my hand again (I had met him in the beginning and what a lovely man he is). All the children had a piece of cake which was nice, it wasn't a huge bit as there are over 500 children, but they all had a small piece to eat. 
When we left there was a lot of hand shaking, hugging etc from the teachers and “thank yous”.  Outside The children were lined up singing and dancing in front and behind us.  Many of them were running up to hold hands, shake hands and wave goodbye.  
Whilst I was at the school I saw how dilapidated the building is, how absolutely necessary a new school building is, a building made from bricks, not just odd bits of wood nailed together with a bit of corrugated roofing that so obviously must leak.  There are gaps in the woodwork where the rain can get in.  The only good part about it is it now has a concrete floor so at least they are no longer sitting in a mud bath when it rains.  They also need better toilet facilities, not a hole in the ground in a small wooden “outhouse” where the door doesn’t shut properly.  All these things we take for granted are things that everyone should have.
Once again a day that I will treasure forever.

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