AfriDACA Blog

37 comments (Add your own)

1. Paul Earnshaw wrote:
One more day to go before we depart for Uganda. The spirit in the team was fantastic at tonight's final group meeting prior to leaving. Bags are packed, t-shirts and hoodies printed and teaching and sport resources are all ready. One more day at DACA and then off to Central Africa with the best team that could possibly have been put together. All senses and emotions ready for complete overload.

Thank you for all of the support from friends and staff at DACA and the amazing partners that have made all of this possible. We aim to repay your kindness by making you all proud and hopefully changing the lives of some of the people we work with on this trip.

Mon, February 11, 2013 @ 8:40 PM

2. Jessica Coy wrote:
Finally finished packing my bag this morning - really excited now. I've been involved in so many trips, but never anything like this. I'm so unbelievably proud of the students and my school for how generous, supportive and motivated they have been throughout this process. Bring on Africa!!

Tue, February 12, 2013 @ 8:53 AM

3. Vicki Sharples wrote:
Good Luck to all of you! Enjoy every minute of such a great experience!

Tue, February 12, 2013 @ 11:55 AM

4. Mr Earnshaw wrote:
AfriDACA update, just landed in Rwanda with 60 min wait on plane until onward flight to Kampala. Everyone in great spirits, can't wait to get there!!

Wed, February 13, 2013 @ 5:25 PM

5. Lisa Sanderson wrote:
Dropped a very exited Courtney Sanderson off at the airport at 02:30am this morning.

Wed, February 13, 2013 @ 5:39 PM

6. Becky Coleman wrote:
Have a fabulous trip guys...I'm so jealous! Hope the accross kit is greatly received over there, I'm sure they're going to love your teaching.. P.S Amy, keep Paul away from any JAVA cake!!

Looking forward to the updates :0)

Wed, February 13, 2013 @ 5:53 PM

7. Wendy Penkethman wrote:
Have a brilliant time all of you. You are a credit to the school and to yourselves. When I dropped Matt at the airport I could feel the excitement from every one of you. You all looked fab in your bright red hoodies!!!

Thu, February 14, 2013 @ 8:15 AM

8. Mr Earnshaw wrote:
Last nights AfriDACA update - all safely arrived in Uganda. Still close to 25 degrees, shock to the system!! #AfriDACA #DACA

Thu, February 14, 2013 @ 9:35 AM

9. Mr Earnshaw & Ms Coy wrote:
AfriDACA update - Warm again this morning. Lazy start followed by brunch. Woken up to banana trees in garden and fresh pineapple everywhere. Off into city centre Kampala to make bricks for the medical centre - promises to be hot dusty work!

Thu, February 14, 2013 @ 9:39 AM

10. Howard McWilliam wrote:
Really good to hear you've arrived safely and starting to get into things. Hope you have a great day brick-making and soaking up all the sights and sounds.

Thu, February 14, 2013 @ 2:58 PM

11. Jess Riley wrote:
Just started decorating your room Amber, your clothes are proving difficult to fit in my wardobe, dont be to shocked i did hint before you went haha. Hope your having fun see you soon x

Thu, February 14, 2013 @ 7:02 PM

12. grandma scowcroft wrote:
Hope you are all keeping well and enjoying a very worthwhile experience good tip if it's still moving don't eat it

Thu, February 14, 2013 @ 7:49 PM

13. Ruth Bradbury wrote:
Great to see you are safe and acclimatising well. I hope the brick-making was fun. Keep in touch!

Thu, February 14, 2013 @ 8:47 PM

14. Mr Earnshaw and Ms Coy wrote:
After 24hrs of travel and a fantastic night’s sleep, we awoke with a real sense of purpose. After an amazing breakfast we set out in jeeps to our destination. Driving here is frightening, there is no give way, helmets, lane discipline and the moped is definitely king.
John, our host, took the group to one of his many projects. An hour long drive along some of the worst roads I’ve seen, found us in rural lands just outside of the city. The project came about following an idea by a visiting young British woman, who was appalled at the conditions some of Africa’s poorest women have to give birth in. She believed a maternity unit would provide health care needed so badly by women who are unable to access mainstream services. John set about trying to realise this young woman’s idea.
John is unbelievably humble and so passionate about making a real difference to his community. The maternity unit has plans to expand to include a dental practice and a larger building to provide residential accommodation to medical staff. The bricks for the centre were sourced onsite from the foundations of the building. The bricks are all handmade and the workers can create more than 400 bricks per day. We all had a go, its hard work. In the hour or so we were there we only made 14 bricks.
What moved me particularly about the visit was John’s vision of creating free and sustainable energy for the masses. He gave us a tour of the site and showed us his bio-gas digester – fuel from animal waste, truly inspired. If a young man from humble begins, can start a charity and begin developing and promoting something as valuable and eco-friendly as bio-gas, it makes us and the West look wasteful, spoiled and blasé at best. In his words “people should ask what they can do for their countries, not what their countries and do for them.” If we all lived by this motto the world would be a better place.
As the afternoon progressed we got stuck in a tropical storm, rain droplets were huge and were soaked in a matter of seconds. A mad dash in the rain to the jeeps and we headed back ‘home’, more scary road antics and a brew when we got in. You can take the girl out of Lancashire but never Lancashire out of the girl.

Thu, February 14, 2013 @ 9:24 PM

15. Mrs Hynes wrote:
Great to see your blog and photographs, looks like you are all getting loads out of it !!! keep us updated.

Fri, February 15, 2013 @ 11:59 AM

16. Mr Earnshaw wrote:
On way to chimp island - crossing part of Lake Victoria on speed boat. Stunning scenery and weather at the moment. Most amazing day of contrasts today - slum visit later today with Acholi Tribe.

Most amazing morning on Ngamba Island on Lake Victoria with the Chimps. Lunch followed by bead making, and slum visit with the Acholi Community. All been up since 5.30am but in great spirits.

What a day - after Lake Victoria we visited the slums where the Acholi tribe live. We were greeted with a song from the ladies and then chance to make beads and a walk around the area. Every step was greeted with children running to keep up and wanting to hold hands. We are back there tomorrow to run games for the children. Can't wait to get started!!!

Fri, February 15, 2013 @ 3:53 PM

17. Wendy Penkethman wrote:
Sounds like you are having an amazing time! Is there any photos available anywhere yet?

Fri, February 15, 2013 @ 5:16 PM

18. Paul and Pauline Dargan wrote:
It all sounds fantastic, what a great experience you are all having. Looking forward to reading more about your trip and its great to see the photos as well. Keep up the good work we are really proud of you all. Take care xx

Fri, February 15, 2013 @ 5:44 PM

19. Denise & Hollie Bradley wrote:
Sounds like your all having the time of your lives !!!!! What an opportunity !!!
Enjoy every minute....Liam we are looking forward to seeing your pics xxx

Sat, February 16, 2013 @ 9:39 AM

20. By Liam and Matt wrote:
Uganda: A country where everyone is happy and make the most of what they have.

Waking up bright and early at 5:30am (!!!!), it was a day of two halves. The morning, acting as a tourist, the afternoon, visiting the slums of the Acholi Community. After an hour’s drive to Lake Victoria, we boarded the speed boat, possibly the most relaxing 23km travel ever! Arriving at Chimp Island, we were introduced to the Care Givers who told us about the island and its inhabitants (48 big hairy chimps, and a new primate: Rhys!) We watched them feed, raided the gift shop spending our 10,000 shilling notes, and played a spontaneous game of volley ball.

We travelled back to main land Uganda, had lunch and took the long journey to the Acholi Community. During the journey, a tropical storm came in, and in a matter of minutes the road was flooded. Thank goodness for the 4x4’s! Luckily, it dried up rapidly, and the sun came back out. It’s difficult to put our experience at the slums into words, we were greeted by women singing and dancing for us, who showed us the beautifully beaded necklaces, bracelets, bags and purses. They were made of strips of paper rolled up round a needle and then the tip got stuck down. Its brilliant how something so simple can look so beautiful. We then were shown around the Slums. This was an eye-opening experience for us, showing the conditions that these people lived in. Whilst we expected to leave feeling sad and emotional, the reality was that we left with smiles on our faces, after meeting so many happy and excited children who were independent and grateful for everything they have. Many high-fives, handshakes and waves later we completed our outing and travelled home.

Now it’s time for dinner, and de-brief. Let’s hope the food is as tasty as last night!

Here are some reflections from the team at the end of today. Each person had to name one thing learned from the Ugandans through what we did today

No matter what you should always be happy. They are living in such poor conditions but they are always happy – we live in big houses by comparison but we moan about so much
You can live off bare essentials and make new things out of recycled items and they can be really pretty
Element of trust from the children through to the adults. For the children just walking with us and the adults letting them,
Touch is big thing and helps to connect people. Even without words a touch or hug can make you feel wanted
You can make a living off things that the west throws away. Never come across people who are so resourceful in all my life
Be friendly to everyone, everyone was so smiling and welcoming and it makes you feel so much more welcomed in the community
Good to be less hostile and less judgmental with people, they treated us so lovely right from the start and like part of their community
Taught me how to smash a rock, and I was amazed at how efficient and how quick they were
Our country hides too much behind computers and things and trying to focus on looking good. Uganda shows that there is a better way as they are so much happier than at home
The value of friendship and relationships and love. Seeing the children looking after each other, in the UK we are so protected but here they look out for each other
To be emotionally strong, -at home we get upset over stupid stuff, but here they smile despite the living conditions –we need to man up in the UK
I waste so many things at home and here there is no waste – they reuse everything.

Sat, February 16, 2013 @ 2:02 PM

21. Tracy Walsh wrote:
Great opportunity for you Liam, make the most of this chance and enjoy yourself. I'm really proud of you and proud to call you my nephew, take care love Tracy, Paul, Caitlin and Luke xxxxxxxx

Sun, February 17, 2013 @ 6:16 PM

22. susan bond wrote:
great to hear your all having a good time we are all missing you nicole but my washer is not ha ha see you soon love you loads xxxx

Sun, February 17, 2013 @ 9:25 PM

23. susan bond wrote:
great to hear your all having a good time we are all missing you nicole but my washer is not ha ha see you soon love you loads xxxx

Sun, February 17, 2013 @ 9:31 PM

24. Nicole, Holly, John and Rhys wrote:
Nicole and Holly

Visiting the Acholi community was emotionally difficult, but their welcoming greetings soon changed our mood. The children are full of energy, involvement and have so much love to give, especially in the games we played with them which were: duck duck goose, football, cricket, rugby, volleyball, parachute, follow the leader, the hokey cokey (which they absolutely loved) and even the simplest of games amused them. Seeing their reactions to basic things like bubbles made us realize how grateful we should be for the things we have, and how we should use resources a lot more wisely. Our name throughout our time there was Mzungu (white person); we found a lot of the time children shouted this and waved frantically for attention. All in all today has been a lesson to all of us on living, and that we don’t need all the things we have, bare essentials are all we need to get by.

John and Rhys

Hope you’re enjoying the cold weather back home as we wake up at night sweating ha ha! Today we visited the Acholi community which was an eye opener. We felt like celebrities with the amount of attention we was being given. We played games and activities involving the children that lived in the community. We set up different games to play; cricket, rugby, volleyball and football. I (Rhys) was in charge of the volleyball. A lot of the children knew the basic shots to play which made the game more fun as the group could play a consistent round. Seeing all the children smile and laugh was such a great feeling. It made me feel good about myself as I was the reason that they were smiling.
I (john) started cricket with the group of kids they were mainly boys, I gave them demonstrations on what to do and they picked it up straight away. The first kid that was up batting hit a six I couldn’t believe it. I shown them how to bowl properly and to be honest I was surprised Mr Earnshaw didn’t scout me for the cricket academy. Then the boys told me they wanted to play football, they was playing bare footed and I was shocked that they was going in for fifty fifty challenges without hesitation. Started from the back I did a one two with a little lad, he switched it over to the right wing, as I was running into the box, the cross came in and I placed it in the net; which was made from two rocks. Today was brilliant and I am so grateful that I have this experience. Definitely won’t forget this trip and hope to venture on another trip like this in the future. Also the team chemistry is brilliant and me and Rhys have been stinking as usual.

Sun, February 17, 2013 @ 9:56 PM

25. Pete and Michelle Riley wrote:
Reading your blogs almost makes us feel like we are there with you. It is such a priviledge for you all to have this experience and to be welcomed into lives of people who have so little but also have so much. The memories that you will bring back will last a lifetime. PS mum says would you not like to go university in Uganda Amber. Only joking looking forward to seeing you and hearing all about your adventure xxx

Tue, February 19, 2013 @ 2:53 PM

26. grandma scowcroft wrote:
Hi amber what a great experience yr having u will never forget it av u been camping yet l bet. Watching the football was good. I believe the food is very good take care xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Took me ages to write that ha ha lots of . Love grandma enjoy

Tue, February 19, 2013 @ 9:38 PM

27. Beth Langford wrote:
Hope your having fun, are you sun burnt yet haa... its me again grandma. Where have you been today, Auntie carols embarrassed how fast I can type, She was staring at keyboard for ages looking for each letter. X

Wed, February 20, 2013 @ 12:29 PM

28. Nicola Ballantyne wrote:
Hi Holly. Hope you get this message before you set off home. We have activated your phone for abroad. Just switch off phone for 10 seconds and then switch back on and follow instructions to activate roaming service. Hope you are all having a great time. Missing you loads. See you soon, Mum, Dad and Leah xxxxxxxx

Wed, February 20, 2013 @ 2:43 PM

29. AFRIDACA Team wrote:
Tuesday, by Courtney

Today has been the hardest day for many of us. After only one and a half days of being here, bonds have already formed and it’s been hard to let the children of Bakijjula school go. For three of the hours we spent there today, we taught the children mathematics and hopefully have made a difference to their education and also to their teacher’s. After teaching, each of the group planted the trees that we bought on the way to Mityana: either Pine, Umbrella or Mango. We were led down to a send off assembly holding the children’s hands and watched the choir perform some beautifully written songs, which brought the majority of us to happy tears. The teachers thanked us and hoped that we return.
Although it was sad to leave, we are looking forward to spending time with the children at Retrak and Tudabejja.

Thu, February 21, 2013 @ 12:10 PM

30. AFRIDACA Team wrote:
Wednesday – at Retrak Clubhouse

A challenging day today, but before that just to finish the story of Tuesday’s exploits first of all! We drove back to Kampala from Mityana and then after unpacking everyone got glammed up for a special treat (well some got glammed up, some just put on the smartest clothes they had!)
The treat was a meal at a posh hotel in town, courtesy of Africa Relief Trust (ART), who had provided some generous funding to the AfriDACA trip, and Rachel, a trustee of ART just happened to be in Kampala same time as us. It was a delicious meal, and we all had a lovely time, but it was slightly incongruous after the living conditions we have seen the Acholi and Mityana children living in, and there was a bit of reverse culture shock taking place for some of us. However, many thanks to ART for their generosity even so!

And so to today. We have been at Retrak Clubhouse down in the heart of Kampala slums, spending the day with some of the street kids. First off we got an overview of the work of Retrak by Dinah, the project manager – Dinah explained how there are at least 6000 street kids in Kampala, and many are there due to poverty, or losing one parent and then the step-parent throwing out all children from the previous marriage. Of course there are many other reasons for the children ending up living on the streets, including looking for work, physical and emotional abuse at home, and escape from trafficking, but the first two mentioned are the most common causes.

After the overview, we were split into 3 teams and we went on the outreach walk with some of the Retrak staff. We had been giving a safety briefing prior to the walk from Elvis, the main outreach worker, which was very helpful, but it was still a shock to see the conditions that the street kids live in. We went through a place where they produce illegal local brew, and lots of streets bustling with small traders, grain being milled, deals being done etc to get to the area where the boys sleep. It was like nothing we’ve seen before but Elvis, Danny, Isaac, Ambrose, Moses and Stephen kept us safe throughout.

The kids sleep in any place they can find – sometimes on the rubbish heaps, or under metal lock-ups, or in doorways, or tucked against a wall; anywhere that they might not be noticed and so not be moved on. Some of the boys had bottles of glue so that they can sniff the fumes to ease the pain of hunger, and lots of them looked like they were high on something or other.

It was very tough to see, and we came back in silence. Elvis did a debrief straight after, but lots of us really struggled for a while after that, and will probably have more tears this evening. However, thanks to Helen and Paul’s encouragement, we all found that some healing came through getting on and playing with the street kids at the clubhouse, and of course the street kids themselves were delighted with the chance to play lots of games. Showing the boys that we see them as equal human beings who deserve the same as us has been one of the thoughts behind all the interaction – that and just embracing the chance to bring smiles to faces and have a laugh together, whether it be over a game of Uno, Jenga, football, or blowing bubbles.

Tomorrow we are going to Retrak Halfway House, to spend time teaching and working with some of the lads who are halfway to getting home from the streets. The work Retrak does brings such hope to these boys, and is a light in the darkness of their lives – its great to be a very tiny part of it, and to get an insight into the work of an incredible organization.

Thu, February 21, 2013 @ 12:18 PM

31. AFRIDACA Team wrote:
After an unsuccessful night camping we woke up to the sound of a rooster at 7am. We started our walk to the Mityana school; we were told it would only take 20 minutes, but that was in African time. In reality it took 40 minutes. Arriving at the school we were greeted by all the pupils and had a special welcome by the school choir. All of us found the songs by the choir touching, one lyric was “ poverty is a disease, we will fight it with books and pens.”

We moved into the classrooms where we began our morning of teaching literacy to classes: P1 – P7. None of us realised how tough this would be, especially due to the language barrier. It was difficult to engage the children at first, they was very shy of us ‘muzungo’s’.

After lunch we travelled back to the school. The afternoon consisted of playing sporting games with the older children. P3 played with the parachute and bubbles. P4 – p7 played football, volleyball and cricket. Tonight we plan to chill around the camp fire and return to mityana school tomorrow, hope it will be as good as today.

Hayley and Amber.

And now a little extra to make you all feel proud of your loved ones.
Not saying who said what, but here is what each of the team said when asked to ‘big someone up’ by saying something they saw someone else in the team do today that really impressed them.

• Miss Coy – a brilliant teacher – the way she interacted and communicated with them and kept them going – no translator needed!

• Hollie carried the lesson so well when we were struggling and not sure what to do next

• Hollie came up with all the ideas for the last session in the classroom

• Courtney cos she took over the lessons when we were unsure what to do next and just led things so well. Kept it clear and concise with her explanations and stepped in when things struggling

• John and Nicole cos they were the ones who drove the lessons and really took it forward especially when we seemed to be struggling a bit

• Sir, Miss and Amy for stepping in to take a class with no planning

• Amy for how she taught the volleyball so well – just like a proper teacher

• Nicole: she just got up and taught them something totally new for all of them and they even understood it and were able to do the worksheet that proved they understood it

• Mr E – took over for the football and was really interactive with the kids

• Rhys and John cos they stepped in and really played their part well in leading the lessons – I was really proud of them both

• Liam: for an amazing response to a slightly difficult situation – he read it perfectly and acted like a pro-teacher, working out the fun response to calm the kids down

• Amber: class A throughout the whole afternoon

• Hayley: always smiling and never complaining about anything – and she was so good on leading her teams with the sports.

Thu, February 21, 2013 @ 12:33 PM

32. AFRIDACA Team wrote:
Thursday, the penultimate day

By Rhys and John

Today we visited Tudabejja which is the retrak half way house. As soon as we arrived we were welcomed by the lads and staff with a song. Everyone within the premises seemed very happy to be there, there is English and maths teaching materials available for the students to use. We were shown around the area; we saw the little farm that was built there, pigs, cows, goats and chickens. Once the tour ended, we went out onto the sports field (same size as a football pitch) and played various activities; volleyball, football, cricket.

After that they did another dance but this time a few members of our team got involved, they had me (john) in a grass skirt and all the other team members as well! Then they served us dinner; rice and kidney beans. I enjoyed it but some of us didn’t, but they got it down anyway because over here you can’t waste anything – it would feel wrong after all the poverty we’ve seen. We then went into a classroom with the boys, each team member was with two pupils. I did a bit of reading, maths and games while talking to them about their experiences and answering their questions they had for me. Today has been a good day, felt like I made an emotional connection with one child especially, looking forward to tomorrow. Its good knowing there is hope for the street children.

Note from Helen (team leader)

This might be the last posting of the blog for a day or so, as we are unlikely to get access to the internet tomorrow, and then the team flies home.
I just wanted to say, as team leader of this trip, a massive thank you to each of you who is related or connected to any of the team members in any way. They have been absolutely brilliant throughout this trip – uncomplaining, ready to rise to any challenge, thoughtful, respectful, giving 110%, enthusiastic, supportive and caring to each other, and just an absolute pleasure to be with and to lead.
Each of them will come home changed, in good ways, after a life-transforming trip. They all have lots of stories to tell, but don’t be surprised if the stories don’t all get told in one go – there’s a lot of processing for them to do as they reflect on what they have experienced. I know that there will be support from the DACA staff on this, but I am also around for them, please use me for advice and support if needed.
So, thank you for supporting them through the return to UK, and the adjustment to a life that they left as one person but are returning to somewhat changed.
And thank you for your part in making them the amazing young people that they are – you should all be proud, they are each an incredible and unique individual.
Enjoy the stories, enjoy the photos, and enjoy having your team member back!
Best wishes

Thu, February 21, 2013 @ 2:57 PM

33. Wycliffe wrote:
Liam, Where about in Mityana are you visiting? That's my town.

Thu, February 21, 2013 @ 7:47 PM

34. Wycliffe wrote:
Keep up the good work.

Thu, February 21, 2013 @ 7:48 PM

35. Wendy Penkethman wrote:
Thank you to Helen and all the staff for giving our young people the chance to experience this fantastic opportunity. I'm sure they will never forget it and the bonds they must have formed between them while they have been away. Looking forward to having Matt back and to letting him tell his story in his own time although knowing Matt it'll be non stop talking! Thank you again x

Fri, February 22, 2013 @ 10:42 PM

36. paul earnshaw wrote:
Sat at Starbucks in Amsterdam enjoying a final coffee on the trip to Uganda. Just a short post to say that I am so proud of the whole team that have been part of this process. It has been an amazing journey for everybody involved. Parents, staff and friends should be incredibly proud of what they have all achieved and the huge impact that they have had on so many people over the last 9 days. There have been tears, laughter, moments of quiet reflection, and yet more laughter. Being part of their journey has been an honour and a pleasure. Miss Coy and I want to thank you all for making this possible with your support and trust in something we believed in. As time progresses, the team will share their experiences with you all as they feel ready and able. Being back in Europe already feels strange, but we can't wait to meet loved ones in Manchester. PE and JC

Sat, February 23, 2013 @ 6:06 AM

37. Jessica Coy wrote:
Just put my washing in the machine and made a brew, found myself in tears! Reverse culture shock - Helen wasn't joking. Looked back through my pictures to remind myself it all really happened. Big thanks to Aaron and my little sis for being so supportive! I hope all my team is home safe, miss you guys already xx

Sat, February 23, 2013 @ 3:16 PM

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