Global Partnership - Hosanna Trip 2014
Uganda Visit July 2014
On Sunday 13th July, sixth formers Sophie Bryant, Matthew Bircher, Laura Budd, Charlie Davis, Fiona Flaherty, Jordan Gulwell, Amelia Kethro, Megan Poole, Soundarya Ravi and our teachers Mrs Hewitt and Ms Revans arrived at Brimsham Green School ready to start our big adventure. We could not quite believe “departure day” had finally arrived after nearly two years of blood, sweat and tears planning and fundraising for our trip to Hosanna School in Uganda. In the preceding two years we had managed to organize a huge variety of fundraising events, including numerous cake sales, a ball, a barn dance and race night, to name just a few. These events, along with the amazing support of our parents, the local community and from the students and staff of Brimsham Green School, meant we were able to raise a staggering £25,000. Our aim for the two weeks was to further develop the long-standing link between Hosanna and Brimsham, to develop our understanding of the culture of Uganda and this year, for the first time ever, to take 70 students on safari with us!
We awoke the next morning in Kampala, bleary- eyed and somewhat uncertain. None of us could really believe that the time had come to actually visit Hosanna School; the 18 months of fundraising had been done and we were finally visiting the place that we had worked so hard to see. The second we entered the school we were overwhelmed with emotion and were unable to comprehend what was going on, as children were singing to us and handing us flowers. It looked as though the whole school had turned out to welcome us with cheering and songs. We were welcomed by Hosanna’s head teacher, Anne, who embraced us and made us feel like we were home. The example she sets to the children was clear from the moment we entered the school, the respect she showed for both students and teachers was apparent for all to see; what an inspiring person. We never thought it was possible to see such beauty in such poverty, though it was there for us to see. We were all humbled by the smiles and happy faces of the young people who had so little; I think at that moment we all understood that happiness is not whether you have the latest I- Phone. We now know it is about community.
During our first week in Uganda we taught a variety of subjects to the students of the school, from History to Science and we also managed to introduce the craze of loom band making to the students! It quickly became apparent that the students of Hosanna were incredibly intelligent; they taught us just as much as we taught them. At the end of each class we presented them with their own teaching box. This meant that every classroom had the basic resources of pens, pencils, rulers, sharpeners, glue and colouring pencils. The cheer from the students when they received the box was surprising and made us think about how freely we would go through resources at Brimsham.
During our first week we also had the opportunity to visit the community in the deprived area of Kampala where most of the children of Hosanna live. Many of us were nervous about this, but as the students were very excited about showing us their homes, we knew we had to put on a brave face. However nothing could have prepared us for what we saw. You see similar sights on programmes like Comic Relief, but you can only truly have some understanding by being there. Anne, escorted around the community and it became clear she had gained the total respect of the community, which is no surprise considering the extensive amount of work she has done for them over the years. The sponsored students were so proud to show us their homes and introduce us to their family. Even though some people may consider it to be very little, it meant everything to them and everything to us knowing they had somewhere to call home.
We also had the experience of a typical “family night” when Anne kindly invited us to her home for dinner. We were really excited about spending time with this inspirational woman and finding out a bit more about her. We found out that she was even more amazing than we thought, her life and family was beyond belief. They made us feel like we were part of their family, the games we played, the songs we sang on that evening gave us a real taste of Ugandan family life.
In the two months before we came to Uganda we managed to raise a further £5000 to take the eldest students in Hosanna School on safari with us. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the children to leave Kampala for the very first time and experience the beauty of their country and its wildlife. For these students it was a real adventure and an opportunity for them to witness for themselves the amazing wildlife Uganda has to offer. The fun was continued when Mama Rev and Jo Jo held a games evening with balloons, charades and the human knot! Despite early mornings the Hosanna students always had a smile on their faces and were quick to wake us up. As a group will never forget the moments we shared with them and the level of sadness we all felt when they had to leave. This experience is perhaps best summed-up by one of the Uganda students when he said, “Thank-you. I now have a story to tell.”
We hope that the Hosanna link gets stronger in the years to come and we believe this is possible. From what we experienced, it is clear that we are making a real difference to these children and their families They have certainly touched our lives too. We hope staff, students, parents and the local community continue to support them in order to enrich the lives of both Hosanna and Brimsham students.
Our experience had made us feel like we have a second home that we know we can and will return to.
Uganda team 2014