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Showing posts from April, 2011

The Right Kind of Aid?

Having been involved in a partnership between the college in London at which I work and a high school in Kabale, Uganda, for nearly three years now, I am beginning to think about whether there is such a thing as a ‘right kind of aid’.
Our partnership, created in many respects by the now-trustees of Solomon’s Children, a UK-based and registered charity, focussed originally on the diversification of teaching and learning techniques in the Ugandan high school. It would see the teachers from our college teaching in the Ugandan classrooms to showcase different lesson types that avoided the hitherto ubiquitous ‘chalk and talk’ lessons – lessons where the teacher stands at the blackboard and the students write it all down which isn’t great for the quieter students.
In the UK, all teachers are entitled to over thirty hours of CPD, or continuing professional development, on an annual basis, paid for by the college or school. Our Ugandan counterparts, I discovered, did not have this privilege.
So …

Les Journaux Africains: Epilogue

Casting my mind back to 2010, I can remember many features of the visit very clearly. 
So it was that my 2010 visit to Uganda consolidated, in my heart, my love for the people of Kabale in southwestern Uganda. From the moment that we were met in Kigali by the staff of Kigezi High School, through to the moment we were waved off from the school compound, it was clear that we really were no longer strangers. Conversations commenced in medias res as if we had only been talking just two minutes earlier.
Despite being in a country that is so alien to the United Kingdom, it was heartening to have people calling after you in the street. Ugandan faces from the year before like Peter, Penninah, Sebi, Ruth, Grace, Sister Evangelista and Charlotte all contributed to making a short visit to a remote corner of Uganda seem more like a homecoming.
The partnership itself has moved on. As I sat in the shade at Lake Bunyonyi with Raj, it was apparent that the notion to move the whole partnership forward wa…

Les Journaux Africains: Little Ritz, Kabale, Uganda - 19.50 13/04/2010 - Part Two

After getting over the initial shock at how vibrant the Kabale Arts Centre looked, I finally noticed that, like the final scene of a film, almost everyone I knew and cared for in Uganda was there - for Grace had gone home a few days before. People like Charlotte, Ruth, Peter, Penninah and Edward (her husband who was one of the artists featured in the opening night).
It felt like a social event that I was meant to be attending, not just in support of a project started by bazungu, but because this is Uganda, my second home, a place were I have genuine friends now whom I enjoy being with. The event was filled with warm smiles, laughter, chatter, hugs, handshakes, tears of happiness and a genuine feel that this project, as with the much broader partnership between our college and the town of Kabale, holds a lot of potential for the future.
As I cast my eyes around the room, in my mind's eye, I can see colleagues, students and people who genuinely care for one another and the whole exper…

Les Journaux Africains: Little Ritz, Kabale, Uganda - 19.50 13/04/2010 - Part One

We cast off from Byoona Amagara around midday today. We successfully dismantled all of the tents and despite the agonising slow progress of a handful of students, we left the island pretty much on time. The weather was in our favour and the boats didn't seem to be sitting quite so low in the water as they had done on the way over.
Our programme for the day consisted of getting back to Kabale from Lake Bunyonyi, relaxing at Green Hills for a short while, heading to Kigezi High School to say a few fond farewells, before heading to the grand opening of the refurbished Edirisa café - now called the Kabale Arts Centre.
We arrived back in Kabale to find that the electricity had been misbehaving all day. In the panic to get the Art Centre looking good, Greg had spent the best part of the day out searching for a diesel generator to hire. 
Whilst he was busy panicking, the rest of the travelling party were at Kigezi socialising with the staff and students that we had met over the course of th…

A Thought for Mothering Sunday

I am in a position of privilege. I was born at a healthy weight, by caesarian section, in a clean, safe and warm theatre of the old Warneford Hospital, Royal Leamington Spa, in 1984. My mother, although 42, was safe throughout the procedure. As was I.
With Mothering Sunday approaching, amid all of its cheap CDs of songs our mums all already own, cards from service stations and flowers that last until Monday morning, and with my own thoughts turning to my trip to East Africa in less than a week, we should think not only of our own families, but also of those in a less fortunate position to ourselves - especially mothers in the third world.
After attending the Save the ChildrenBorn to Write Blogging Conference I received an email talking about a report that the charity had commissioned. The report, entitled Missing Midwives, brings into sharp focus the extreme danger that up to 48 million women face annually by giving birth without any form of maternity expert present.
In some of the poore…