By Harry Marshall
I’ve always found arriving in a new city or country at night is unsettling. You struggle to get your bearings because everything is either dark or lit up by brownish-yellow florescent streetlights. So arriving in Kampala at 9:00PM at night and the subsequent 6-hour drive to Gulu didn’t really allow me to get my bearings until morning.
Uganda was infinitely different to what my mind imagined the night before. Saying that, I honestly don’t know what I was expecting before I arrived and I prefer it that way when I’m going to new places. It allows you to enjoy every new aspect you’re faced with instead of making comparisons to some made up place in your mind. The one thing that my imagination would never have been able to think up was the sheer beauty of the natural environment. The landscape was contrasted between the green of the environment and the brown soil of the earth, all against the backdrop of the immensely blue African sky.
This isn’t my first trip to Africa however something that I must’ve forgotten in the last 10 years since I was last here was how friendly everyone is. Always eager to ask how your and laugh at a joke; if sometimes are your expense. Innocent, Kevin’s husband, is a fine example of this. I don’t think he can manage a sentence without laughing mid-stream at one thing or another.
The first weekend’s HCU classes with the kids was a genuine treat. Kevin introduced me to the older class first then took me to the middle and young class afterwards. After jumping the first hurdle with the kids as to how to pronounce my name Kevin and Mirriam left me armed with nothing but a red pen to manage the class and do some marking of their earlier work. Immediately I remembered the power of a red pen to primary school children from my own school days; a tick here, an enthusiastic ‘100%’ there and I was fairly sure I would manage the next hour or so.
The next day on the Sunday was my baptism by fire. Kevin and Mirriam left me with the older class for the entire class running through a few English exercises. Surprisingly I absolutely loved it (and I hope the kids took some enjoyment from it as well). Kevin seemed to think I did a good enough job to merit taking the upper class more regularly which will also free Mirriam up to take more specialised technology classes with small groups of the students.