Our Expedition Coordinators just got back from Camp Uganda smiling ear to ear, full of wonderful stories and updates about all the people, projects and rhinos that we made friends with not so long ago. Big thanks to Stef and family for leading this year’s recce into Uganda. In addition to all the relationships we developed during our first expedition, we have a lot of new and very very exciting projects and places coming up (but it’s a secret…):
As we went to the airport at Entebbe to collect the Teachers for this year’s Teacher recce it seemed like we had hardly been away, it was so exciting to be back and see what had happened since we left only 3 months ago. What little jewels would the Pearl of Africa hold for us this time?
Well it certainly had rained, everywhere was more green and wild than ever, huge thunderous clouds brewed all around and then emptied in a magnificent downpour, the roads quickly turning to rivers of orange then just as quickly as it had started, the sun reclaimed the water and the sky shone blue again.
On our return back to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, it was great to catch up with Angie and hear all what has been happening. Peace, who organized all of our activities, a fun and lively lady with a wonderful sense of humour had just had a little baby boy, so we sent huge congratulations to her from us all. We also managed a quick hello to Grace one of our amazing Camp Assistants.
On the Rhino side of things, Bella who we see here is just starting to be courted by the dominant male Taleo, so perhaps a new calf to look forward to in the next couple of years. There are a couple of expectant Rhino’s on the Sanctuary one due to give birth in May 2013 and the other in December 2013.
After leaving Ziwa we headed back to Hairy Lemon Island and it was a pleasure to be back in the new canoe and whisked across the Nile River once again into the calm of the small bay and step onto the Island again. The Island was looking beautiful as ever, the lawn manicured and the new toilet block very safari chic! Dinner was delightful, the home cooked bread rolls and fresh soup went down a treat, bringing back memories of all the wonderful home-cooked meals Grace and Assad cooked for us. Fresh Ugandan Coffee brewing on the stove wafted through on the breeze.
Visiting Chirindi Primary School the next morning was very exciting, it was pouring with rain as we arrived and as we got nearer to the Classroom that our 2012 Team built we could hear the children making a lively din! Stepping out of the rain and into the Classroom the atmosphere was electric as all the children screamed and danced with pleasure on our return, chaos reigned for a few moments before calm being restored by Patrick and quickly the Children settled down at their desks in their dry, airy Class.
Since we left in August the school has erected some more temporary Classrooms behind the one we built and also cleared the vegetation from all around so that the children now have a football pitch. Also the makeshift toilet block has been repaired and the walls heightened and a corrugated iron roof put on.
Inside the Classroom a bamboo partition has been put in the middle of the Class so that 2 separate classes can be taught at once, the school growing rapidly with over 250 students enrolled. There were many little faces that we recognised and they took pride in signing the Hokey Cokey for us, it was delightful. I guess we picked the perfect day to go in the rain and really see what a difference can be made to the children’s lives by putting up a simple classroom for them so that they can continue their studies in the dry.
Our last stop on the trip was up to Mt Elgon and visiting Rose at Roses Last Chance Campsite. Rose was eagerly waiting to see us as well as Olivia and Africa, the small children that she cares for.
Again freshly brewed Uganda Coffee and homemade mandazi (doughnuts) were prepared for our arrival and we sat under the shade of the Guava tree enjoying the feast.
Many of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Staff came in and greeted us. Lorna came for dinner one evening, having us all spellbound with tales of the vigorous training regime that all the UWA Rangers must go through to qualify as Mountain Rangers.
We had arrived in Budadiri in peak coffee picking season and everywhere there were tarpaulins laid out with the beans drying on the ground. A bumper harvest of kidney beans was hanging up drying on the verandas of all the local houses and shops.
As we descended down the mountain and headed back to Entebbe past the vast shores of Lake Victoria, once again sad to be leaving but brimming with many new ideas for new projects for the coming years.
And so we left Uganda, happy to have been involved in such a successful project in 2012 and keen to return to our friends and colleagues in 2013 and embrace many new projects.
TUGENDE!!! Let’s go………..