Well hello again, I hope you are all well!
I have now escaped the rural village life and am now based in the busy city of Kampala! I am now working at a school in a class of 41 children aged 3 and 4 years old. The children are beautiful and they seem very pleased to have me helping, however they are very naughty!
As soon as I walked through the school gates on my first day, I was greeting by hoards of children shouting 'Mzungu' (which means white person) I found this extremely overwhelming, as I am not used to so much attention!
Most children in Uganda pay to go to school, as the state schools offer such poor teaching, with about 150 children in each class!! Each child has to pay between 30,000 and 65,000 ugandan shillings per term, depending on their year of study. This means that they are paying about 10 - 30 pounds three times a year for each child. On top of this parents must also pay for school books, uniform and food for break time! The school fees sound minimal to us, but for these poor families it is alot to pay. In fact today at school, quite a few children had to be sent home, as their parents are behind with payments. Also during one lesson, one little boy had to just sit at the desk doing nothing as his parents had not bought him enough school books! Such events make me feel very uncomfortable and make me realise how lucky we are in England to receive good quality free education.
Another practice which makes me feel sick to the stomach is caning. I had been warned about this, but nothing prepares you for the shock of seeing an adult hitting a child with a stick. I am not denying that the teacher has her work cut out with so many naughty children, but I dont understand how they think such brutal punishment will help. The children are constantly hitting each other with sticks and bitting each other. It seems very contradictory to me to punish a child for violent behaviour, by being violent back. As I work with the youngest children I think the teacher is abit softer towards them and normally taps them on the head or pokes them (still bad enough I know!) but today a couple of boys had to lay on the floor and receive quite a beating! I just had to look away as I dont feel there is anything I can do to stop it. Here in Uganda caning is still used in the majority of schools and is proabably used in the children's homes, no wonder the children are so violent!
So since moving into the city, I am now living in a host family. The family are lovely and very laid back, but it will take a while for me to relax in their home. By Ugandan standards they are considered quite a wealthy family, although by my standards they are poor! The house has no running water, shower or washing machine and I have not managed to escape the joy of a pit latrine! We are lucky enough to have electricity, however there are frequent power cuts which can last 24 hours, so I often read using torchlight. I am also become quite an expert at washing myself and my clothes in a bowl of cold water! What really freaks me out is using the pit latrine at night time, as there are often horrible creatures crawling out of it. A couple of times I have just held on all night, until morning. I know I am extremely pathetic and I will have to harden up, if I am to stay here for a year!
Another creature that I am not too keen on is dogs. Unfortunately for me my host family have three of them! Throughout the day they are tied up, which I know is extremely cruel and then at night time they are let loose and act as guard dogs. Last night I went out with a couple of girls and returned at 11.30pm to three growling and barking dogs. I was so scared that I ran back out of the gate and tried to phone my host brother to come and rescue me. Unfortunately he did not hear his phone but luckily a passing boda boda driver kindly escorted me to the house door, I felt very silly!
Thats all for now, take care.
Lots of Love