QEGS Sixth Form students raised over £10,000 in preparation for their trip to Uganda in July 2022, with every penny spent on the ‘Good Samaritan Primary School’.
Uganda – By Niamh Hamilton – Member of Team 2022
In 2008, Dr Paul Wright was brought to a makeshift school, under a tree, in rural Uganda, about 40 minutes north of Kampala. Here, the three brothers, Godfrey, Henry and Joseph Walumgembe had organised a small school for children whose parents couldn’t afford to provide them with an education. Since 2010 QEGS Sixth Form students have worked with Dr Wright from The Erasmus Uganda Charitable Trust to develop facilities at The Good Samaritan Primary School and in July, Mrs Albiston and Mrs Gammon took 20 sixth form students on an adventure of a lifetime to Uganda.
The Good Smartian Primary School has grown around the original tree to include classrooms, an assembly hall, dormitories for the children, houses for the teachers, a well for fresh water, a kitchen, and sanitation facilities. Although Team 2022 did not have a specific project, what we accomplished was more than what we ever expected to be able to achieve. None of us really knew what we had signed up for as it had been three years since the last group had visited Uganda. We soon realised that the heart of this visit was The Good Samaritan Primary school when we were greeted with song and dance as we walked through the gates, slightly jetlagged, very sleep deprived and incredibly overwhelmed on a sunny Thursday morning. Our attempts at dancing, our very out of tune singing, playing games and getting to know the children was a highlight of the visit for so many of us but we aren’t sure what long lasting impression our performances had on everyone else. We worked incredibly hard to improve the facilities for the pupils.
The ‘ZP Special’ became a daily occurrence as Zaidan emerged to be our foreman, organising us so we could achieve what Mrs Albiston thought impossible. In just five days every classroom’s blackboard was repainted and every single building at Good Samaritan was painted externally. The staff room was refreshed, and all classrooms received new furniture. For the teachers and pupils who live on-site, we purchased new beds and mattresses. External security lighting was bought, and a brand-new nursery playground was established with a slide, swings and a merry-go-round beside the Good Samaritan Tree. We left Good Samaritan with a list for their groundskeeper, and honorary Team 2022 member Henry, to paint all classrooms internally over the summer break. Finally, we were able to buy the school their first ever computer enabling us to have more contact with headmaster Joseph throughout the year.
The stereotype of African countries has been challenged in each of our minds, we now know of a generous country an incredibly warm population and rich culture. Each morning, from our rooms at Namirembe, we were awoken by the call to prayer from the Uganda National Mosque. A highlight for many of Team 2022 was our visit to this Golden Mosque on Old Kampala hill. It was our privilege to tour the 35,000-capacity place of worship and appreciate the serenity that it offered to us all. Both Mrs Albiston and Mrs Gammon were honoured to have the opportunity to explore such a beautiful building and to also allow the chance for those of us to pray in East Africa’s largest mosque. We visited one of only seven Baha’i temples in the world and the oldest Cathedral in Uganda, Namirembe just behind our hotel where we enjoyed listening to the Namirembe marching band get in some much-needed practice each night.
We were very lucky to explore the Pearl of Africa’s beautiful landscapes. Our driver, Mohammed, ensured that we saw the African safari’s big five. Although we got slightly stuck in search for lions, a quick push sent us on a flying off-roading rollercoaster across the savanna to find a majestic pride of lions waking in the morning sun. We were treated to hundreds of the endangered Rothschild giraffes, elephants, water buck and an impossible number of hippos in an unforgettable stay at Paraa Lodge. The sheer joy of the pupils of Good Samaritan is testament to the educational opportunities provided to them. In the Primary Leaving Examination, Good Samaritan pupils consistently achieve the best in Wakiso district ensuring they have the best possible chances to continue to succeed in their chosen careers. The pupils of the Good Samaritan Primary School are just like any other, with aspirations to become doctors, lawyers, nurses, politicians and teachers. It is through the continued support of the QEGS community that this is possible. Smiling faces and happiness greeted us each day at Good Samaritan, with so many memories of an unforgettable trip it is difficult to articulate how life changing the trip has been to each one of us.
Team 2022 developed a lifelong bond over two and a half weeks forming our own little family. We learnt to not be so dependent on material things, to be appreciative of the luxuries we have in life and to strive to maintain humility in all that we do.
We hope you enjoy watching our highlights:
Applications are open for our next visit in July 2024 current year 11 and year 12 pupils and students who wish to visit should see Mrs Albiston for further information.