Back to Uganda – 2024


In 2015, St Julians Primary School created a link with a school in Uganda called Busiu Primary School. The link started with children in each school exchanging letters but later that year, two teachers from St Julian’s Primary, Mr Mansfield and Mr Prewett, visited Buisu Primary and got to know the headteacher, Mr Sam Walyaula, and the rest of the staff and children at the school. They loved that visit so much that Mr Mansfield was keen to continue the link with the school and in 2018, Mr Mansfield and Mr Prewett visited the school again (You can read the blog posts from our previous visits here).

Since then, our children have continued to learn about Uganda and Busiu Primary School and they’ve continued to exchange letters.

In 2019, Mr Mansfield helped another four Newport Schools, St Julian’s Primary, Alway Primary, Eveswell Primary and Rogerstone Primary, to develop their own links with schools in Uganda and that year, took a team of eight people back out to Uganda to visit their link schools.

The global Covid-19 pandemic then hit and we were unable to visit for the next few years.

This year, we applied for funding to continue the link and were successful in getting a grant to take teachers from six Newport primary schools out to Uganda to build links with their own schools. The schools involved in this visit are: St. Julian’s Primary (Mr Mansfield, Mrs Meakin, Miss Marshall, Mrs Howells & Mrs Hard), Ringland Primary (Mr Prewett and Miss Griffiths), St. Andrews Primary (Mrs Brewster and Mr Martin), Pentrepoeth Primary (Ms Batrouni, Ms Williams and Mrs Drummond), Maindee Primary (Mrs Thomas) and Tredegar Park Primary (Mrs Beecher and Mrs Nichols).

Day 0

All fifteen teachers met at St Julian’s Primary School at 2pm Saturday. Each teacher had suitcases packed with their own belongings as well as gifts to give their link schools. It was a squash on the minibus with so many bags to take out with us – we were grateful for Mrs Arnold (who used to be the school secretary at St Julian’s Primary) kindly offering to also drive to Heathrow Airport to give us extra space for baggage!

It was a clear journey to Heathrow and we arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare – so much so in fact that the group were teasing Mr Mansfield saying that he had arranged to set off far too early! Mrs Meakin didn’t travel on the minibus to London with us, because she was already in London having gone to see Taylor Swift in concert the night before!

After checking in, we sat down for some food before boarding our first flight from London Heathrow to Kigali, Rwanda. When checking in online the night before, the airline had automatically assigned us all seats on the aeroplane but Mr Mansfield and Mr Prewett (Ringland PS) noticed that there were some seats available which appeared to have extra leg room! As it was an evening flight and we knew we needed to sleep, we cheekily selected two of the seats with extra leg room and didn’t tell the other teachers in the group. We wondered whether we would be caught out or charged extra money but luckily, when getting onto the aeroplane, sure enough, our seats were in the ‘Economy Plus’ section with lovely wide seats and extra leg room! The other teachers were very envious as they walked through our section to sit towards the back of the plane in their tightly packed seating!

We arrived at Kigali after around 9 hours of flying and most of the group managed to sleep well, only waking up for a small meal of chicken/beef and rice. There was a slight mishap on the aeroplane towards the end of the flight when the flight attendance accidentally spilled a cup of water in Mr Mansfield’s lap! Needless to say, that was rather embarrasing when he stood up!

We then had a short wait in Kigali before getting onto a smaller aeroplane to take us the rest of the way to Entebbe, Uganda.

We arrived in Entebbe at 8:40am Uganda time (2 hours ahead of UK time). After collecting all our baggage from the conveyor-belt, we made our way to the exit of the airport where we met Joseph and Sam Walyaula. Sam was the head of Busiu Primary when we first linked schools and Joseph was a friend we made during our first visit who has become our guide and lead coordinator out in Uganda. They were so happy to see Mr Prewett and Mr Mansfield again, as well as meeting the rest of the team for the first time. Joseph had arranged a large ‘Coaster’ (minibus) to take us from Entebbe to Mbale. It looked slightly old and worn and some of the seats were interesting but as we set off on our journey, it seemed reliable and our driver named Juma appeared confident. Jospeh gave a short introductory speech to welcome the team and then we set off on what is supposed to be a 7-hour journey to Mbale.

We stopped in Kampala briefly to exchange our British Pounds to Ugandan Shillings and also to get mini wifi hubs which would give us reliable internet access for the time we were out there. Eddie, Sam Walyaula’s son also met us to briefly say ‘hi’. Mr Mansfield and Mr Prewett had met him previously, but didn’t recognise him as he was now grown up and in university in Kampala.

We set off back on the road and it was just as we remembered from previous visits. Traffic everywhere zooming in all directions… bumpy roads… boda boda motorbikes surrounding the coaster from all directions carrying all sorts of interesting things on the back… and horns beeping constantly as everyone tried to dodge each other!

Most of the roads up to Kampala were fairly smooth but as we got further and further towards the city of Mbale, the roads became more dusty and bumpy! The team loved looking at all the market stalls and people selling things on the side of the roads everywhere. Some people would approach the bus when it was slow or stuck in traffic to see if we wanted to buy chicken on a stick or soda to drink.

Around half-way into the journey, we stopped at Jinja which sits on the edge of Lake Victoria. This lake is considered to be the source of the river Nile. We stopped for a small boat ride to break the journey up. We hired a local guide with a boat who took us out onto the lake and over to where the exact point where the source of the Nile is said to be. There was a little shop in the middle of the lake with locals keen to take tourist photographs of you.

You can see some of the photographs of the group here.

It then became dark very quickly. We each had a plate of chips and a drink before heading off for the final three hours of our journey. We arrived in Mbale at our hotel late in the evening. By this point, everyone was so tired that they just wanted to check in and get straight to bed ready for the following day where we’d be visiting schools.

It has felt like a looooong couple of days travelling but we are so happy to be here and excited for the week ahead.

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Visiting Each Ugandan School – Day 2 (2024)

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