March 2017: Day 1

On Sunday, 5 different groups of volunteers left Vancouver and met up in Brussels, while 2 from India made their way. Over 40 hours later, 15 volunteers from The Walking School Bus met in the Entebbe airport. We gathered our 30 duffel bags loaded with school supplies, backpacks, computers and books and travelled the bumpy road to Nabugoye Village together. For many, it was an especially exciting journey, as they have never been to Africa, while the rest of us could not wait to be reunited with our friends here.

With special thanks to the St. George’s School community, we brought with us hundreds of pencils, pens, erasers, sharpeners, markers, books, backpacks and paper. Our team spent hours sorting through the supplies so we could deliver them to the three schools. Additionally, with special thanks to Stormtech, we brought 100 school phys ed uniforms: shorts and t-shirts for 2 schools to be able to play in two teams. The sorting was incredible and we all worked together for several hours to ensure the right supplies went to the right schools. We have an incredible group on the ground with us!

Our first stop this morning was Semei Kakungulu High School, an interfaith school comprised of Jewish, Muslim and Christian students and leaders. We had the incredible privilege of meeting 10 students who learned (in front of us) that we would be paying for their education for the next 5 years with tremendous thanks to a special donor family in Vancouver. The students were overwhelmed, their smiles so bright as they clapped and were completely surprised by the news.

One by one they were called up as scholars deserving of this incredible scholarship, It is a moment that will be forever etched in all of our hearts The Head of School spoke to us for some time about the importance of interfaith collaboration; about the importance of standing side by side for the goal of educating their students. He spoke of celebrating all holidays together- they are a true community, one we are proud to support. A big takeaway for many was hearing about the impact of educating one child in a family. One child’s education can take an entire family out of poverty. The cost of educating these children for a year is roughly 250/year with incomes ranging from between 1 and 2 dollars/day. It is a lot to take in, and such is the journey on a trip like this.

As we left Semei Kakungulu High School, we were sorry to leave the students beautiful smiling faces.  

The afternoon was spent walking around the town of Mbale. They have a spectacular market filled with everything imaginable: fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, clothing and on and on.

Photo Credit: Sam Shapray

Photo Credit: Sam Shapray

Following the market, we went to a variety of equipment shops where we purchased additional materials for our solar reading classroom and chicken coop projects.
An early night will be enjoyed by all as we settle into the Guest House on top of Nabugoya Village.