After a great first week in Kampala we departed for our next stop, Mubende, on Sunday 13th July. The direction was west and approx. two and three quarter hours later bumping and zig-zagging on a poorly partly surfaced road we arrived in the rural town of Mubende. The journey itself was an experience not least for the little villages we passed through and all the facets of rural life we observed en route – from the numerous people walking or cycling on the roads, going to fetch water in their yellow water drums or dressed up and off to their Sunday mass/service (anything from 2 to 4 hours we later discovered!), grazing cattle by roadside or simply sitting by their little roadside shop.
Our base in Mubende was Emmaria House, which provided simple clean rooms and was well chosen for us by the Deputy Principal of one of the schools we were to teach in – Mubende Light Secondary School. After settling in a number of us decided to take a walk around town – it wasn’t long until we realised not too many whites spend time in this town and we were objects of great interest and amazement, the term ‘Muzunga’ frequently uttered. People in general were very welcoming and when we went shopping were very curious to find out what we were doing in Mubende – our answers were well received.
Shopping, yes that very important daily activity which was essential for our stomachs!! Try as I might I could not develop a taste for the local fare – beans and rice, matoke, ground nut sauce, goat stew- or the local eateries! So the idea of providing our own lunch and supper from visits to the local ‘supermarkets’ soon took hold – it developed a great team spirit also. Fruit like bananas, pineapples, avocados, tomatoes were easily available in the local market. Tins of sardines and corned beef were acquired in the ‘supermarkets’ and the day we discovered those circular boxes of triangular processed cheese (like the old Calvita ones) it was like manna from heaven and we bought out the shop’s full stock of 6 boxes!
I was assigned to the team for the MASS – the Military Army Secondary School, which was located just a short distance from town up the obligatory dirt road. We taught from 3pm to 8 pm here. The first day brought the usual difficulties with power and in particular no surge protection. Some computers were also still in their boxes due to inadequate sockets to set them up and these were stacked in front of the blackboard preventing access to it! So lesson one was in difficulty until suddenly someone announced the school had a projector. We couldn’t believe our ears! So it was duly produced and linked up to one of the volunteer’s laptops. Skillbuilder chapter 1 was then taught. This worked well as the majority of the teachers in our class had little or no previous experience of a PC. Next step was keyboard skills. This was not the first time we had to improvise so we became quite adept at teaching keyboard skills on dead keyboards! Everyone sat at a keyboard and so began the familiarisation session – getting used to location of the letter keys, use of shift keys, etc. and eventually typing words. Lots of imagination required here! After this everyone was suitably tired so the lesson finished early but with great promise for the next day. As we were teaching our coordinators had arranged for surge protectors to be acquired hastily from Kampala before the next day’s class.
The technical problems were being well dealt with and we were set for lesson two, only lots more people seemed to be arriving for class than had registered the previous afternoon. There were more people than computers and they were still arriving! Panic setting in. Coordinators please help! It was soon discovered that the secondary school, in their generosity, had invited the teaching staff from their primary school to also attend the computer classes. After some discussion it was decided to split the time between the two groups with the primary teachers having the first two hours for class and the secondary teachers would be given the next three hours. Our break was as one group left and the others arrived! So it was all pretty intensive. At the end of the week I think we all felt we would have liked more time with both groups especially as so many were completely new to keyboards and computers.
On the final night the Principal, who also attended the classes, organised a little ‘thank you’ ceremony for us where he made a short speech and also handed us a letter of appreciation for Camara. This was in turn greatly appreciated by our team.