An early start from Mweya allowed the whole team, loaded into Ronnie’s trusty van, a good start down the Ishasha road – and my how it has deteriorated since last time! More pot-hole than road, it is in dire need of resurfacing. Luckily, the views are as stunning as ever, winding a way south through the Maramagambo Forest, rising up over the hill to the splendid views of Lake Edward, then swinging back to the spectacular savannah landscape of Ishasha, dotted with fig trees that the lions climb as they survey the herds of Uganda kob grazing below. Awesome! I always have ‘The Lion King’ music playing in my head as we make this journey.
With one quick comfort stop at the Ishasha Ranger Station, we continued along the familiar track, turning a steep right at the sign for Bukorwe Primary School. ‘Get ready for the craziness!’ said Mr Peach to the team as the van emerged out of the bushes and approached the school. He knows, having visited the school many times, that we are always welcomed with such enthusiasm and affection that it can sometimes overwhelm you slightly. And he was not wrong! His remark was followed by the sound of children shouting and cheering inside the school as they noticed our arrival. This sound gradually increased as the children began running out of the school buildings to meet us, reaching a crescendo as they surrounded the van. It was mainly the younger children that rushed forward to greet us, with the older children remaining slightly more reserved and standing back around the school building and classroom doorways. It was almost difficult to get out of the van for the crowd! Taking care not to accidentally tread on any of the small children, and with four or five of them hanging off each arm, the whole team were laughing and smiling in response to this joyful welcome. It is always like this at Bukorwe- it is a very happy school.
Some of the teachers came out to meet us and we soon recognised Vicent, Felix, Christine, Innocent and Doreen. I had not met new headteacher Posiano before and so we were taken into his office for the official welcome and visitor book signing. This always happens when you visit a school in Uganda.
We all signed the book, then some of the group took a walk down to the Ranger Station where Meg was to interview the rangers. Mrs Peach, Amy and I stayed to watch Vicent teach a maths lesson to P7 class about inverse proportion. (See pictures.) The students listened quietly while Vicent explained and demonstrated, then he set them some tasks and they quietly solved the problems, working them out in their notebooks. We were impressed by their hard work!
We were invited to share some delicious watermelon and African tea, which is the same as English tea but made with warm milk. Then Mrs Peach and I met with teachers Vicent, Christine and Doreen to talk about what we wanted to do and to share with them and explain the things we had brought.
After we had agreed the timetable for our visit to the school the following day, we said goodbye and climbed once again into Ronnie’s van. We had planned to stay the night in an hotel (The Suba Motel) in the local town Kihiihi (pronounced Chee hee hee – which always makes me giggle), but before that- a treat for everyone! A game drive around the Ishasha track! Back to Lion King country! (More about that next time….)