Thursday, 20 November 2014

The trip that will change your life

Do you find yourself complaining about the photocopier jamming again? Or perhaps the appalling coffee in the staff room? Or the gridlock on the way into school?

We know that every school from the UK to Uganda has its problems and we would never belittle them. But we would like to invite you on a trip of a lifetime - a ten-day adventure to the rural primary schools Build Africa supports in Uganda.

It's a trip that will "touch the roots of your soul":

“As I scanned each classroom, the cramped, dingy conditions left me in a state of shock. Eighty six children, sardined onto wooden benches lined the room, and my mind began flashing up images of our spacious, vibrant classrooms with resources lining the perimeter of the walls. It was then that something happened that touched the roots of my soul.” Cara, a teacher (after visiting a Build Africa supported school in Uganda in 2014)

What's on offer

Build Africa’s ten-day trip to the rural primary schools it supports in Uganda will open your eyes and heart and change your life in all sorts of ways. And you will be able to make a huge difference to the Ugandan pupils and teachers you meet. Using your experience, knowledge and skills as a qualified teacher in the UK, you will inspire and be inspired by the attitude of pupils, staff and parents at Ugandan schools who operate with woefully inadequate resources but enormous enthusiasm.

Uganda in Africa - Click to enlarge
“I have seen parents taking real pride in their local school, particularly when they have come together to form their own schools, because their children would have had to walk over 15km to the nearest alternative. Fifty parents came to meet us to talk to us about their school. I would certainly like that kind of parental support at my UK school.”

There are so many benefits for you and the Ugandan schools you will visit. It’s a cliché, but it really is a win-win situation. You will be part of a group of like-minded, qualified UK teachers who will be there to share and enhance your experience. And our exceptional Build Africa Uganda team will accompany you throughout your trip and help you make the most of every opportunity to learn about this very different culture.

Making a difference

It is one thing to read about exposed and dilapidated classrooms crammed to the rafters with up to 150 pupils at a time, classrooms with no computers and not enough desks or text books, but it is a very different thing to experience it first-hand. It is something that will really hit home when you witness it for yourself, we can guarantee you that.

“As I stood in the shell of a brick-built classroom with the children sitting on the dirty floor, perched upon stones or having to stand at the back in order to see the handwritten lesson held up on the wall by a small piece of masking tape, I truly appreciated how incredibly lucky we are within our schools at home and just how much we take for granted.”

People often chat about ‘making a difference’ but never actually do anything about it. Well this is your chance to do more than just imagine what it would be like. It is an amazing opportunity to exchange ideas on teaching methods, to experience a completely different culture and witness the daily raft of challenges that Build Africa’s Ugandan schools face. Perhaps you will become an advocate for our work as a result. We certainly hope so.

A unique insight into another life

“At lunch time, the children whose parents have contributed towards it will eat a meal of maize and beans, but the majority of pupils in the school will forage amongst the mango trees for fruit and, failing success, go without food all day.”

You will be getting a unique insight into a very different world, but you will be surprised to find that in spite of all the obvious differences between the two countries (particularly in terms of resources), there are also many challenges in common. The long hours and heavy workload may be depressingly familiar, but that does mean that you will be able to share your experiences of these problems with the Ugandan teachers - like-minded professionals who are deal with the same day-to-day issues as you.

You will have helped improve the lives of schoolchildren in a desperately poor part of the world and that experience cannot fail to enrich you too. When you return home to your centrally-heated classroom with its internet access and a mere 30 pupils, you’ll probably still have gripes about your life as a teacher. Of course you will – you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t. But having witnessed first-hand the challenges in our Ugandan schools, hopefully your perspective will have changed and the little things won’t grate quite so much.

Your help would be enormously appreciated and one thing you are guaranteed of is a warm welcome:

“The headteacher was incredibly welcoming and clearly very proud of her school and the education that her team were providing. The children giggled as we shared photos with them. There is a massive culture of music and we were subject to many beautiful welcome songs.”

Where do I sign up?!

The Build Africa Uganda Trip is self-funded, but by raising your own funds for the trip you not only help us to continue our vital programmes within Ugandan schools, but also those who sponsor you or help you raise funds for the trip will hear about and have an emotional investment in both your trip and our work.

Details of this once-in-a-lifetime trip are available on the Build Africa website, but if you have any further queries whatsoever, please contact the trip organiser, Deirdre Bruce-Brand on 01892 519619 or email and she will be happy to talk through any questions.

So what was it that touched the very roots of Cara’s soul – our teacher quoted right at the start of this article? We’ll let her finish the story: 

“In spite of all the deprivation, the deeply upsetting lack of resources and the 86 pupils crushed together in the shell of the classroom, the man teaching the class transmitted his love of learning to the children through his voice, facial expressions and hand gestures. Every child was engaged and then without warning, on a signal from their teacher, they turned to me and sang the most moving song of welcome. In the sea of little faces turned up towards me, I could see the light of hope in their eyes, but also something else, the fear … the fear of hunger … of a life of constant struggle, and I was moved to tears. I knew, I for one, would never be the same again and I was so glad I overcame my fears and came on the trip.”

So if you have a spirit of adventure… if you would want to escape the same old, same old… if you are ready for a profoundly rewarding experience that will change your life and the lives of those you meet, then please don’t hesitate. Get in touch with us and together we will get you started on the trip of your lifetime.

That staff room coffee will never taste the same again!

All images © Build Africa unless otherwise stated


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