Students from Richard Lander School have recently returned from a life changing trip to Uganda. The purpose of the trip was to forge stronger links with their partner schools and to engage in community action. In the months leading up to the trip, they raised over £10,000 doing a variety of different sponsored activities. This money was spent on refurbishment projects in their Ugandan partner schools and also community action programmes in the district.
In the first section of the trip, they spent a few days working with a Ugandan partner school in the town of Loweero, a couple of miles north of the capital, Kampala. In this school, students are funded only £1 per year by the Ugandan government for school equipment, so some of their fundraising went towards providing more equipment for them to use. But the main part of their work here was to refurbish the section of the school which looks after deaf and dumb students, who are boarders. They painted their boarding house and bought them much needed furniture such as bunk beds.
Next they travelled across the country to their main partner school, in the small town of Bukomansimbi, near the city of Masaka. Bukomansimbi actually means 'where the money runs out' and is a reflection of the poverty of the area. Here, they spent 10 days working in a school set up by the Dutch based UP4S charity, which Richard Lander School is now working closely with. It provides schooling mainly to orphan children in the surrounding villages.
The students spent a lot of their time working as classroom assistants; their English skills were much valued as English is the language of the national curriculum of Uganda. In the evenings, the Ugandan and English students spent time playing games and also learning some traditional Ugandan songs and dances.
The trip finished with a 3 day safari in the Ugandan National Park, where students were able to witness some of Africa's finest wildlife close-up. This included elephants, hippos, crocodiles and even a pride of lions feasting over a recent kill.
Mr Mulcahy, Headteacher of Richard Lander School, reflected on the success of the trip: 'Our students have had an experience they will never forget. They have learned something very special about the word 'community' by spending special time with Ugandan schoolchildren and being able to contribute something to their schools and communities. This experience will help shape their values and sense of purpose for many years to come.'
Tom Whitworth said: " From this trip I have experienced new and unique cultures which are completely different to British society and I have been able to further appreciate the basic requirements we have in the UK such as food, water, education and a comfortable home"
Tegan Barker said: " It really does make you appreciate everything you have and it makes you have a new outlook on life. This awesome trip put a smile on my face for 19 days. "
Matthew Secombe said: " The trip has been a wonderful and unique experience and I will never take anything for granted again after experiencing how the majority of Uganda live."