By Aisha Taylor
Today the whole team went to visit Bukinda Secondary School, which is the school that the older children from The Peace Centre attend. The walk was about two and a half kilometres and was all uphill along rocky roads. This completely shocked me as there will be children that live further that have to walk even longer distances, and I was already tired about 200 metres into the walk! When we arrived at the school there were groups of children sitting on grass chatting and staring at us as we went to talk to the headmaster. I don't think they often get groups of 22 foreigners strolling into their compound. There was no programme today, which was extremely surprising, so we just got to freely mingle around. Promise, one of the children from The Peace Centre, ran up to us and took us into her class because they all wanted to meet us. She was very happy to have us visit her school. When I stepped into the classroom I couldn't believe that it was completely bare. There were no display boards and the walls weren't painted. There was a blackboard with a sponge as the rubber, and that was it. The complete opposite of what we are used to seeing at Dulwich and not for the first time since I've been here, it really made me think about all we have. The children loved us introducing ourselves and they would repeat all our names. Promise took us on a tour of the school and we went into the library. It was quite small, but there were a few categories of books. Although the majority seemed to be textbooks with very few novels and seemingly little emphasis on reading for pleasure.
In the evening, Andrea and Sophia organised an activity where the children drew on T-Shirts with special fabric markers that they had ordered on Taobao before we left. What a great activity! We all paired up with a TPC child to support them. It was incredible to see how such a small thing meant so much to all of them. At the end of the activity they all had to share what they had drawn and they were so proud to tell the rest of us all of their creations. Some of the designs were brilliant, and some rather funny. One girl decided to draw a goat on her t-shirt, another a table. Many drew footballs and a few drew The Peace Centre logo. One shared, "I have drawn The Peace Centre as I now have a home." There was a sense of achievement and happiness that was booming off all of the children. I think this will be a fun activity to do again next year.
In general being with the children has been an absolute dream for me. They are all so friendly and caring. It is crazy to think that in such a short period of time I have grown so close to all of them, and I really do love them. I want to adopt them all! When I play with Joan and Moses I forget everything else that is happening in the world and I am completely happy. Their laughter gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Teaching them the word hug has been my biggest achievement because now whenever I say 'hug' they both give me lots of cuddles! When the children come home from school it is the best thing ever! From then on I lose track of time so easily and it just flies by. Even though I'm very tired at bed time, I'm also sad as it means I have to say goodnight to the children. I cannot believe we are leaving Bukinda on Saturday; it is going to be so hard to leave them all. I feel like they are now part of my extended family, so on one hand that is wonderful as I now have so many more brothers and sisters, but on the other it means that saying goodbye to them all is going to be gut-wrenchingly hard. They have achieved so much and come so far, they have shown me how to love and loved me in return. I will never forget them.
Who are we?
A team working alongside Golden Magezi in Bukinda, Uganda, running an orphanage that provides kids with love, family and an education.