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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Leaving Mbarara

Today marked our last day in the southern part of the country. We began the morning with a stop at a local primary school, the Mbarara Mixed School. This is a Universal Primary Education facility offering classrooms to children in pre-primary as well as P1-P7. Boarding is also available for children who live too far away from the school to travel each day (at the expense of their parents.)
We began with an all school assembly, being welcomed by some very excited children. A question and answer portion followed, with questions coming from both the children and our group. We then split into smaller groups and had an opportunity to see a couple of classrooms and have more one-on-one experiences. Speaking with the headmistress led me to much information on the logistics of such a school yet I was excited to get back to the children. They were so innocent and excited to ask questions, tell us about themselves, and most of all – have their pictures taken. While some Drake students chose to ‘cuddle’ with a young child, others enjoyed being surrounded and having conversations. It was a sad goodbye, with only one child trying to make a getaway by joining us on the bus.
I about broke down in tears when a child told me he was an orphan and asked if I could sponsor him. The government was going to stop providing money for him to go to school, and he has no one else. What was the most touching part of your day at the primary school?
The rest of the journey back to Kampala included a second stop at the equator for shopping. We then visited “Croc Camp,” a crocodile farm. The owner gathers the eggs from a local ‘park’ with the help of a park ranger, incubates the eggs, raises the crocs until the age of three, skins them and sells their skin at the market in Kampala. He currently has over 3,000 crocs. The students quickly discovered that if they bought a chicken, we could watch the largest crocodile have lunch. It didn’t take long to gather 6,000/= (approx $3) for the purchase of a chicken from the local village. Some looked on with amazement while others (ie. Dr. Bishop) had looks of concern.
Another long bus ride completed. I recommend asking the MUBS students to tell you a bedtime story next time we’re on the bus. They recall stories from when they were young; they are both entertaining and give an excellent example of the culture of Africa.


  1. The most touching part of my visit to the primary school was when one of the boys came up to me and smiled as he began feeling my arms. He then took my arm and rubbed it against his cheek. After he let go of me, he pointed at the palm of his hand and then pointed at my palm, identifying wrinkles, fingerprints and veins. It was in that moment in which we realized we are both quite similar. I will never forget the boy's look of amazement as he realized we may not be as different as we seem.

  2. The time at the primary school is one of the best memories I have from my experiences in Uganda. I remember two girls who told me they were best friends. They were holding hands and basically, connected at the hip. It was really cute and I realize that they are each others rock. It reminded me of my close friends and the people I hold dear. I also remember walking into a room of really young students with Crystal and Rachel. These children were so shy and just stared at us, then later enjoyed some candy we had shared with them. I also remember Jackie calling over a cute little boy to sit on her lap as she gave him some MANGO SPLASH. The look in his eyes was a look I will always remember: he was sooo happy for Jackie's kindness, but I could see pain and trouble in his face. This whole experience was amazing for us to have gone through and seen. We all experienced different encounters that made this primary school visit so memorable.

  3. This was one of my single favorite days in Uganda because of the primary visit. Simply, one of the most touching experiences I've ever had in my life. They appreciated us so much and had a full assembly to show it. After the assembly I really enjoyed getting to meet some of the children on a more personal level. Jennifer and I went to the P6 room, which would be about the equivalent of 5th grade, and talked with them for a little bit. Some of the questions that they raised were both entertaining and thought provoking: "Who is the governator of California?" or "Does the US really have bed bugs?" It was very interesting to me to see how much they thought of the United States in a positive light. They like President Obama so much that you'll frequently see shops such as "Obama Solon" or "Obama Groceries" sitting along side the roads.

    The moment that stuck out in my head the most was when a boy named Jacob approached me. When we were just about to leave the class room a Jacob followed me out and requested to carry my things for me. I didn't have much except my backpack and my notebook. So I handed him my notebook and started walking back out into the courtyard, where I talked with him on a more personal level. After talking with him for a couple minutes, I figured out that he really wanted to study in the United States and wanted me to take him back with me so he could do so. The last thing I did before we left was I took a picture with him and gave him my E-mail so that he could talk with me if he ever wanted.