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The Bakiga Window: Nursery on the Kisoro Road

Singing and dancing in the dark on Kisoro Road.
It feels like I’m on a bit of an adventure this morning. A group of four of us, upon hearing the rumbling of Mugisha Wycliffe’s car coming along the red dirt track, leapt to our feet, ready to run out into the rain, across the car park, and into his old Toyota.

It is Wednesday 13th April and we’re visiting the nursery of Blessed Academy, to be introduced to the children and some of the staff.

Perhaps the most curious thing about the nursery is that it is some 15km outside of Kabale – away from the location of Blessed Academy’s primary age school. It feels strange to be whizzing along the Kisoro road, leaving the other staff and students behind, but mildly refreshing. I have with me: Helen, a member of staff; Stefan, a former student before I taught at WMSF; and Carmel, a current student.

The rain has been falling heavily for most of the night and as such the electricity in Kabale has stopped. With the noisy generator outside the front of Green Hills, it is a wonder than anyone got any sleep. That said, I am thankful to have had any electricity.

The rain continues as we head out into the countryside. Not for the first time ever, the rural parts of Kabale district remind me of Wales. The trees are a lush green and are invariably dripping wet with rain. Thankfully, this road is the best in Uganda and my nightmares of being stranded in a red muddy wilderness soon faded.

Upon arrival at the nursery, there isn’t what I call the ‘50-50 Response’ – whereby half the children burst with excitement whilst the other half runs off crying. Instead the children are all waiting patiently inside the building, sheltered from the rain. When Mugisha had said they were desperate to meet us, he wasn't lying.

Once inside, the first thing that struck me about this nursery was how dark and remote it seemed – it made the Wise Parent’s Nursery, where I had met the lovely little girl Faith, seem palatial. The floor was rough, the rooms small and the resources scant. In true Bakiga style, the children seemed unfazed by this and went about singing a song welcoming us.

The children are always curious about bazungu and took the opportunity to check that our pointy noses were real, to check that the hair on our arms was really attached and to investigate how digital cameras worked. They were also exceptionally curious about Carmel, who is mixed race. They could tell that she was a little bit mzungu, but you could also see that they thought she may be a bit mukiga too.

The exterior of the nursery, with a few brave children waving goodbye in the rain.
Our visit was fleeting. We had another appointment at the building of Blessed Academy in Kabale and with some sadness, after a final round of songs about being a good boy or girl and counting, we had to leave.

It left us all reflecting on how despite the nursery lacking so many basic amenities, how well it somehow gets by. It surely performs a great role for this small rural community, but at the same time highlights how big the discrepancy between the resources in town-based schools and rural schools is, even in a supposed third world country.

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