This is part of a series about the Kenya-Uganda Summer Project 2011. Read the other posts here.
Frances Sybilla Howell (UWC AC, UK 2010-2012)
The most memorable experience for me was visiting a disabled orphanage. There were 35 children, 20 of whom were physically disabled and the rest deaf or blind. Sign language was their first language there and they encouraged everyone who lived there to learn it. The owner, disabled herself, set up the orphanage aged 18 as a place where disabled people could live in a friendly community. Since then, they have established ways of making their own income such as mushroom growing, selling milk from a donated cow, a carpentry and stationery business and clothes making. The sheer skill and determination of this people is heart-warming and young and old live together in an environment not too dissimilar than that of AC. Somehow, everything works like cogs in a machine. The members are affected by deformities – sometimes dangerous to their health such as a girl whose body size is trapping her heart growing, physical and sometimes sexual abuse and virtually all rejection by society. It was equally overwhelming and inspiring to meet the people here.
As well as spending days preparing more seedlings for planting, we returned to the Fishing village where we were greeted warmly. We entertained the children, spoke to the local people and brought supplies for the local orphanage. The lack of basic amenities here brought out fierceness among the people, when the supplies were given out, particularly in the younger people in the community. This was shocking because it was a new experience to most of the group. The experience enabled the Chairman of the District, who had supported us during the past week to see where the need in the Community was and speak to the public about their thoughts and opinions.
Back in Kampala, we met the Ugandan National Committee for their annual lunch. It was amazing just how much we had to talk about because of the shared experiences we had through being at a a UWC. Conversations about living in a dorm, the IB, the Chinese students, all develop into a new conversation – one which you would not have had without UWC. It was really exciting to feel a part of a Community on the other side of the World, to learn about life at other Colleges and to hear about the achievements people had since graduating.
After spending a few days sightseeing and relaxing, we took a night-bus to get from Kampala to Nairobi. We were waiting in a coffee shop when the second years received their IB results. It was a really tense time because they couldn’t get away and be alone like they most likely would if they were at home. Luckily, they all did really well and got into the Universities of their choice and the group’s moods were high even through various cases of flu and food poisoning.
– United Words –