Uganda Partnership History

Details of our past visits and visitors

February 2020

Inspired by her first visit in 2018, Mrs Barber joined Mr Barber once again in 2020, along with Mr and Mrs Huckle. Mrs Huckle had recently retired from HJS after 30 years, and her husband had just retired as Headteacher of Bristol Grammar Primary School. Once again, they joined a party from St Mary Redcliffe Secondary School, who were visiting their partners at Ikoba Secondary School, not far from Kasongoire.

There was a strong sporting focus for our visit. Local teams in Bristol generously donated football kit, entire strips in various sizes, which we distributed to several primary and secondary schools. One of our suppliers kindly donated two team strips printed up with the name of Kasongoire. Mr Huckle taught all of the children to play rugby. Richard Friday, who visited Bristol back in 2015, had moved to a neighbouring school about 5km from Kasongoire, where he was in charge of the football team. We visited his school, Bulyango, donated footballs and football kit to them, and arranged a match between Kasongoire and Bulyango, to take place on the last day of our visit. On that Friday morning, we sent a minibus to collect their team and their Headteacher. We were totally overwhelmed when we saw a sea of blue shirts following the bus over the brow of the hill. The entire school had jogged behind the bus to watch the match!

DSC08229.jpegHJS children had been learning about the River Nile with Mr Parr, and Mr Barber taught the older Ugandan children about the River Severn. We mounted the two pieces of work side by side to make a comparison between the longest river in the UK and the longest river in the world. Meanwhile, the younger children made beautiful flowers and simple origami projects with Mrs Barber and Mrs Huckle.

During our visit, we developed exciting plans for our partnership. Headteacher David and teacher Kenneth were invited to visit Bristol in the summer. Mr Barber had meetings with other local headteachers and education charity workers with a view to connecting more schools in Bristol with schools in Masindi. Things were looking good until March 2020...

On 23rd March 2020, the UK population was told to stay at home, and schools were instructed to close to all but a small number of vulnerable children. Schools in Uganda were closed at the same time, but in Uganda, they remained closed for 22 months, the longest period of closure anywhere in the world.

Highlights of our 2020 visit.

Gallery - Uganda 2020

February 2018

Mr and Mrs Barber travelled out to Masindi during the February half term with a group of staff and children from St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School and Henbury School. Unfortunately, since the British Council Connecting Classrooms grant has become almost impossible to secure, many Bristol schools have had to pull out of the Bristol Masindi Partnership. However, seeing first hand the positive impact that our friendship has on the teachers, pupils and community, we would hate to now abandon the connection.

The new school year started just one week before we arrived, after the long 8 week Christmas holiday. This is one of the two dry seasons in Uganda, and it had not rained since the start of November. Temperatures were in the high thirties during our stay. Children stay in the relative cool of the classrooms, or gather in the shade of the large mango trees. The numbers are still on the increase as each day a few more children enrol or return to the school. 326 turned up on the first day of term. By the time we left, there were 400. Class sizes currently range from 24 to 100, and the age range is from 6 to 19. (Children repeat the year if they do not pass the exams, and some children take years off to help their families with work and then return later to finish their primary education)

The new headteacher, Kikabi David, started only one day before our visit. Mr Barber and he made plans for the completion of the library building, which still requires bookshelves, a storage cupboard, ceilings and a solar panel. It was reassuring, though, to see that the bulding is now well used, with an office for the Head, a room for teachers and parents to meet in, and a store room for their limited teaching resources.

The Friendship Project

DSC04343.JPGTo cement a longlasting friendship between our two schools, we set out to give every child and teacher at Kasongoire a personal link to a child or teacher at Henleaze Junior School. Mr Barber gave each child a laminated photo of one of our children, with a message on the back introducing themselves. In each of the seven classes, when the letters were given out, the Ugandan children wrote their own name on the front and were then photographed holding up their British friend. This gave Mr Barber the opportunity to meet all 400 children individually. The older ones were able to read their letters and write a response. The younger ones learnt to say the name of their friend. At the end of the day, they proudly took their friend home to show to their families.

The other activity we conducted on this trip was to teach all of the children a song, called Love Is All You Need. Inspired by a video from Playing For Change Foundation, we have taught the song and filmed the children at Kasongoire and Henleaze, and will be editing it into our own new film, bringing together children who live thousands of miles apart.

Henleaze and Kasongoire singing together

February 2017

Miss Cutler and Miss Jones spent the half term holiday out in Uganda, teaching at Kasongoire.

There has been a change of headteacher this year. Jackson has retired, and Jennifer has taken over. There are over 400 children on roll, and the largest class has 80 children in it. We are pleased to see that the large classroom has now been divided in two, so each year group now has its own classroom. When Mr Barber and Mrs Tabley went, they had to teach two different lessons at opposite ends of the same room!

The library, sadly, is not finished yet. However, during our visit, a carpenter arrived to make internal doors. Now all that is required is a ceiling, and some bookcases for the hundreds of books that Henleaze Junior School children have donated. Miss Jones and Miss Cutler enjoyed using some of these books in their lessons, and the children also enjoyed reading the stories that our children sent out to them.

In the pictures, you can see the water tap that supplies the school children with water from an underground spring. Unfortunately, the pipe has corroded, so it is not working at present, and the children are getting water from an open stream nearby. We are working with the local people to get the pipe repaired as quickly as possible.

Highlights of Miss Jones and Miss Cutler's visit

Photos from our 2017 trip

Easter 2016

Mr Heath and Miss Sharland went to Masindi during the Easter holidays to visit Kasongoire Primary School. They took with them more of the books that Henleaze children very kindly donated, and during the three days that they spent in school, they taught in all of the classes.

The children were delighted with the gift of books, and we were pleased to see that there has been some progress on the building of the library, where they will be kept. The new building, when finished, will include a room where children can sit in small groups to read, as well as a space to store books and other teaching resources.

Happiness Project

During their visit, Mr Heath and Miss Sharland asked the children and staff what makes them happy. They taught them this song and recorded them singing, dancing and playing along. We did the same with the children at Henleaze Junior School, and this video is the result.

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Photos from our 2016 trip

Highlights of our 2016 visit

Kasongoire 2015

Our first exchange visit took place in the February half term holiday, 2015. Mrs Tabley and Mr Barber trovelled out with a group of 7 Bristol schools and spent a week observing and teaching lessons at Kasongoire Primary School. They took with them several suitcases full of books donated by the children of Henleaze Junior School.

The school is located on the edge of one of Uganda's largest sugar cane plantations. The drive out from Masindi takes about 50 minutes, mostly on red dirt "maram" roads, through miles of sugar cane fields. The villagers of Kasongoire grow their own cane which they sell to the Kinyara factory.

The school has no electricity, its only water supply is pumped by hand from a bore hole at the edge of the field. Two long-drop pit latrine blocks have been provided previously by charities. The classrooms have dirt floors, tin roofs and unglazed, barred windows.

There are 7 classrooms, although one was occupied by the Headteacher, so that two year groups had to share one large room, subdivided with a corrugated iron partition. The children sit at wooden Victorian-style benches. Some classes have nearly 100 children in, crammed in side by side with their notebooks and pencils, which they have to provide for themselves. They are also expected to wear a school uniform of shirt and shorts or skirt. These have often been handed down from sibling to sibling, and many of their clothes are torn, or too big or too small. Some children have no shoes, others have flip flops or trainers.

At lunchtime, some children eat food that they have brought from home, but many bring nothing. Local village women sell steamed bananas, "matoke" at the roadside, to sell to children who have money.

During our visit, we noted the brick shell of a building which had been started a few years previously when some bricks had been donated, but abandoned when they ran out of cement. In discussion with the Headteacher, we decided that this could make an ideal office for the Headteacher, and a library for the books donated by the children of Henleaze Junior School.


Bristol 2015

In the summer of 2015, Jackson Mburamanya, the Headteacher, and Richard Friday, one of the teachers, came to Bristol with a group of teachers and students from Masindi. They spent a week with us at Henleaze Junior School, observing lessons, meeting groups of children and participating in some of our enrichment activities. They enjoyed a workshop at Bristol Free School, a football match on our field, musical performances by our choir and orchestra. They did some local sightseeing and were invited home for tea by one of our families, to see how our children live.

HJS children had many questions to ask about Kasongoire and about life in Uganda. They were surprised to find out that they had much in common with their African friends, not least a passion for football. They were inspired to organise a fundraising campaign to complete the library building, and they generously brought in more books for our visitors to take home.

Our first trip to Kasongoire in 2015