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Published: January 28th 2009
Ruth, Faith, Melissa and Michelle...my new play mates and friends for the Christmas period
It has been a very long time since I managed to find time to write a blog so I promise that I will not try to cover everything that I have been up to as that would take weeks to read, but I thought I would send round a general update and some information about my next project.
My last couple of months in Uganda just seemed to fly by in a flurry of activity, there were so many things that I wanted to fit in before I left and time was tight due to the break for Christmas and the time I was planning to take off to travel with Luke. With a lot of dedication and time and effort from Paul and myself we managed to achieve a great many things before I left....although there is still so much left to do.
We were able to continue the educational outreach program and spent a week staying in a little house owned by CSWCT that is out in the village right next to the edge of the forest. It is in a really beautiful location and ended up being a really fun week as we would play cards
This is me in my traditional Ugandan dress called a Gomez, pictured together with Paul
by candle light listening to the bush babies screaming in the forest after a busy day of teaching. Once we had fitted in as many outreach sessions as my time would allow I then spent some time evaluating the session and managed to show through statistics that some progress had been made and the children had gained some knowledge about the forest and the great apes. We were also restricted in time due to the end of term being fast approaching and the schools in Uganda have a very long Christmas break as it is the end of their school year. This however was not the end of our educational efforts as we were also able to facilitate an interactive session at the education center which took place during the holidays and any students were free to attend. It was really great to see these students making a big effort to walk, often long distances, to come and learn more about the environment and at the end of the day they even asked when they would be able to return which was really positive and encouraging.
There are also a number of children and young adults in Hoima that
The view over the lake which I visited for Christmas with Bushara Island visible (the really forested one)
dropped out of school at a young age and so have less opportunities available than other individuals. We established a program to work with these individuals to encourage them to become more active in their community. By the end of my time we had created an organised association that are planning to learn new skills and to put on drama productions to teach the community about the environment.
In addition to this we more time working with the local women’s group, the private forest owners and writing many different reports about all of the activities that we had been busy doing for head office.
Shortly before Christmas I was given the opportunity to travel back to Ngamba Island for a ‘staff day’. It had been over 2 months since my last visit so it was really nice to see all of the island guys and the chimps. It was also interesting to view all of the work that is being done there now that I have a slightly different perspective having worked for the organisation for some time. It was especially good to see the chimps so happy and healthy and surviving in such a large community troop
The tree nursery has expanded a lot since I've been there so here is our mini forest looking very lush
after having experienced the opportunity to see the harsh conditions that the wild population in Hoima are hafting to survive in.
I have become very close to the staff over my time here and they really are an incredible bunch of people who are all very dedicated to their work. Being based in Hoima I have become especially close to Paul as we do practically everything together. So when it came to figuring out where I would spend Christmas Paul invited me to travel with him to join his family which I gratefully accepted. We spent almost a week down with his family and it was a very special highlight of my trip. He has a large family and they all managed to take time to get together and were extremely welcoming and kind. It made a really good change as his family and really emphasis spending time together not spending money on gifts. There were also four young girls in the family so I had great fun playing games, and colouring in, and singing and dancing with them. On Christmas day we took a trip together to Lake Bunyoni (most beautiful lake in Uganda) and traveled in a
KWEC Holiday Program
Students attending our interactive education session that took place during their school holidays
little boat to Bushara Island to spend the night which was very special.
As well as Christmas I also spent New Year in Uganda, this time I was in Kampala the capital city with some friends, which was again good fun. Shortly after the New Year I began a new Ugandan adventure....traveling with Luke. I won’t bother going into all the details but over two weeks we did the following - got an x ray done at a dingy little local hospital, bungee jumped (me not Luke), did white water rafting at the source of the river Nile, traveled over the equator on a motorized canoe, spent time on Ngamba Island, watched chimpanzee feeds, helped with caring for the chimps, went on a forest walk with the juvenile chimps and gave them piggy backs and grooming sessions, travel led up to Hoima, visited the village/education center where I’ve been working, taught the local women’s group designs of new products to make, attended a stag do and a wedding, visited Queen Elizabeth National Park, went on a game drive and a river launch, traveled through the mountains to Buhoma, stood underneath a waterfall, trekked Gorillas and shopped in Kampala!!
Luke and I attended the wedding of a friend of mine who lived next door to us in Hoima
In addition to all of that excitement I also learnt how to ride a motorbike which is very amazing and I am very proud of! I had a deal with Paul that I would teach him how to drive and he would teach me how to ride. However by the time Luke arrived we had only managed to fit in one bike lesson as we had been so busy. Still we knew that we wanted to visit the village and did not want to rent a car so after a second mini bike lesson I decided that I had mastered enough to ride myself and Paul rented a second bike on which he carried Luke. I had spent a total of about 1 hour riding before we set off so was a little scared of what I was letting myself in for as I knew the road were bad and there was all sorts of random traffic. Amazingly despite it raining so it became muddy and I couldn’t see through my visor, meeting a large herd of cows, passing a number of cars, bikes and people, avoiding many potholes....I made it! Riding a motorbike it such a good way to
Throwing fruit and vedge down to the chimps that have come to the edge of the forest for feeding
see Africa and you get a great feel for the roads and the villages that you are passing though, and apparently it’s not all that hard.
Luke left 48 hours before me so I spent my last couple of days seeing all of my friends and saying my final farewells which was really sad. I know that I will definitely go back one day but depending on what life throws at me I don’t know how long it will be before I make it. I made some really great friends and really felt that I was able to contribute to the work that they are doing out there in a positive way. If anyone reading this is interested in getting involved in the same or similar work please do get in touch as there are lots of opportunities and CSWCT are keen for more experienced volunteers to help out on the field program.
Since returning to England I still haven’t found much time to sit and relax as I went almost straight off to Birmingham for a training weekend for my next program. I’ll be taking part in a six-moth ‘Global Exchange’ programme, which will see me spending
This was seen over Queen Elizabeth National Park, the sun is so much bigger in Africa!
three months working in a town called Assuit in Egypt, and three months working in Hounslow, UK. In both locations, I will be working alongside other young people from both the UK and Egypt, to promote youth participation and engagement in a number of ways. Global Exchange is run in coordinated by Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) and the British Council. In order to take part in this opportunity I have been asked to fund raise so contribute towards to cost. In order to do this I am planning on putting on an event in Macclesfield and another in Durham which I hope many of you will be able to attend. I have also set up a Justgiving page which is a really easy and secure way to donate money to my charity, and if you’re a UK taxpayer, Justgiving makes sure 25% in Gift Aid, plus a 3% supplement, are added to your donation. Any support that you can give is really appreciated and I’m really looking forward to having a proper catch up with you all.
Lots of love
Hannah x x
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