As I reach the end of my adventures in Uganda I feel very lucky to have seen this truly fabulous country. Uganda has so much to offer our teams through community projects, wildlife, education and adventure. I will be very sad to leave but I am returning armed with memories of a lifetime and I have been fortunate enough to meet some of the friendliest and welcoming people.
I visited several schools so I could see for myself exactly where we can help local communities and actually make a difference. The support we can provide is small and effective, while we don't have millions of dollars to completely change lives we can certainly help to improve them. The Goat Project is a simple concept but has considerable longevity for the school, by buying milk producing goats we can provide schools with a supplement to their lunch. Lunch for the children is simply a cup of ground corn and water, by providing provide milk we can add to their daily diet. The goats do not require extra feed or special maintenance and they reproduce rapidly allowing the school to sell some of them in return for sugar. The communities I visited are extremely poor and live hand to mouth, but what is quite striking is just how wonderfully welcoming they are, they are some of the politest communities I have met, my kids could learn a thing or two from them. Often you are greeted with how are you and how is you day or how are you and how is your life? They laugh and smile and are always grateful.
It was wonderful to see previous projects our teams have completed being used in the day to day lives of the students. We have built water tanks, pig pens, chicken coups, gardens, guttering, laid classroom floors and much more. While I have seen these simple projects in our pictures, to actually be on the ground, seeing them in use and making a difference is quite a remarkable feeling. Next summer we are taking on one of our larger projects, a storm blew off the roof of a classroom block and devastated the inside leaving it in a state of total disrepair. This particular project will involve a complete renovation of three classrooms giving the students the much needed space for learning. Currently they have temporary classrooms in the church and the Pastors house so far from ideal. We will put a new roof on and plaster the walls and make it a bright vibrant place to learn.
We interviewed the students and they were full of hope and ambition, when we asked them what they wanted to study they said doctors and engineers. If we can make their learning environment more engaging and comfortable this may well make that small difference to help them realise their aspirations of becoming a doctor or engineer. It is very clear that is are many needs in a number of schools in Uganda, while our projects won't change lives but they will certainly improve them.
Understanding Uganda and learning by experiences - Geography and Biology in Uganda
I did geography A Level at school and counting traffic in Greenwich was about as interesting as watching paint dry. If only I could have had the opportunity to come to Uganda and learn about tourism, populations, exports, education, volcanic landscapes, how man and wildlife learnt to live alongside on another ...... I think I would have really understood what geography is all about and would have had a greater understanding of the wider world at a much earlier age.
Far Frontiers are very lucky to have access to one of the world’s most prestigious Biological Field Stations located right in the heart of the Kibale Forest National Park. Here we spend time with researchers being part of vital programmes that strive to improve conservation, educate the local communities to help them look after their precious forest and the animals that inhabit it, on our research treks we will see the chimps, elephants, buffalo and many more amazing animals in their natural environment and at night we will see the rarer species are found deep under the forest canopy. We will be able to study primate behaviour with the resident experts and get a fascinating insight into these fascinating species. Our teams will be able to be part of the ongoing Conservation Education in Primary Schools, a crucial initiative to help educate the children so that they have an understanding of how they live alongside their wildlife and look after their land. These unique experiences are fantastic for geographers and biologists to grasp the importance of the hands on research and be part of long term and progressive programmes helping to protect our planet.
Queen Elizabeth National Park has been designated a Biosphere Reserve for Humanity under UNESCO auspices. The park, includes a remarkable variety of ecosystems, from semi-deciduous tropical forest to green meadows, savannah and swamps. It is the home of the famous tree climbing lion as well as the Uganda Kob, other antelope species, elephant, baboons, hippos, buffalo and chimpanzees as well as over 600 species of birds . In the crater lakes to the north, flocks of flamingos can be found. We take our teams by boat along the Kazinga Channel between Lakes George and Edward where we can get close to the many hippos, crocodiles and monitor lizards.
As we journey through different terrains in the lush and rich landscapes and we can see the different crops grown for export in Uganda. We will have the opportunity to see for ourselves the production in the factories to see how they prepare these crops for export such as palm oil, cotton, tea, coffee and salt. There is a huge salt crater lake where the locals work tirelessly on the process of extracting salt, the men up to their knees in thick black sand scrapping the tops of the water to gather the salt and the women carrying heavy bags of salt to be dried by the lake side, and all the time surrounded by hundreds of brightly coloured pink flamingos.
Subsistence farming is evident everywhere we travelled with families growing vegetables and fruit to live off. As you travel from Entebbe through to Masaka and onto QENP different produce lines the roads with stalls piled high with freshly picked ginger, bananas, tomatoes, pineapple, coffee beans, fresh fish (often once purchased transported on the bumper of cars!) and much more.
View some of our Uganda itineraries here