Shaun Cole, Senior Stores Assistant, spends most of his day working in the Bristol warehouse. When he was given the chance to visit Uganda as part of ITEC and OASIS's fundraising efforts, he jumped at the opportunity...
The longest journey of my life went as smoothly as possible.
After travelling from Bristol to London, London to Dubai, Dubai to Entebbe, we had another seven hour car journey to Mbale and Musoto. Alvin, Country Director at OASIS in Uganda and our driver, Wycliffe, talked to us about the history of Uganda and pointed out passing wildlife including storks and birds of prey. When we finally arrived at Mbale, I was happy to see my bed.
In the morning, as we headed over to the school, we sampled Africa's finest wildlife -- cows, goats and chickens. It was quiet as we arrived but soon more and more children started to show up. They were a bit shy at first, so I started taking selfies with them. Soon, the kids were running around and playing with each other.
I was then called over to help Nick, Jay, Tony and Kieran get to work on the IT classroom. I unboxed the first computer and a giant cockroach leapt out. There was mild panic before we quickly got on with the job. When we actually removed the computer from the box, we found seven more cockroaches running around the bottom of the box.
The work was more complicated than we previously thought as the container had to be completely wired and the heat reached 30 degrees. Wycliffe brought in some speakers and our work was soundtracked by Tupac. Soon, we were buzzing and I noticed the kids were peering through the windows, curious to see what we were doing. I invited them in and the kids quickly helped me crimp cables -- they were better than me!
When I had finished, the kids asked me to play some football with them. I had a bit of a kickabout before joining the adults in town for some dinner and a few drinks. A night out in Mbale is very different from a night out in Bristol. Most of the team went back at a reasonable time. I partied with Wycliffe until 2AM.
In the morning, I was amazed at how fresh Wycliffe looked. He gave me a bottle of water and we jumped in the car. As today is a Monday, the atmosphere at the school was completely different.
The kids were in uniform and dedicated students. Once we'd made sure the classroom was fully operational, we handed out the football kits donated as part of the Light Up Uganda fundraising efforts. It was amazing seeing their faces. One of the school kids, Philemon, was about the same age as my son and I really wanted to make sure he got one of the three pairs of football boots we were able to bring over. He tried all of them on and liked the last pair the most. He then shook my hand as we set up goal posts.
It was a tough game. 15 vs 15 and finished as 2-2 draw. I scored both goals for my team and I was happy Philemon and a friend scored for theirs.
Soon, we were saying our goodbyes. On the way home, I was happy Wycliffe took us a different way to the airport to show us some baboons. I’ve always wanted to see them in their natural habitat. We then visited the source of the Nile. I’ve never been to a river like it.