Today (Saturday, as I write, although posted on Sunday) was the big day for the children at Kasenyi Primary School where we have been helping out with gifts of school supplies, sports equipment, musical instruments and toys for the kids for several years. One of these has been the generous donation of teddy bears for the smaller children that were knitted by a Saskatoon group of ladies who call themselves Teddies For Tragedies. This year we had been able to raise enough funds to set the school up with a solar energy system that will run four 7-watt bulbs and a 32-inch television along side a combination DVD/tape deck. The funds, a total of about $5000 US dollars came from such simple things as bake sales organized by the WCVM students to the sale of over 150 calendars, and a silent auction held at the WCVM. A major component was the generosity of many alumni of the Uganda Wildlife experience who dug deep to help out, and a few very generous corporate sponsors in the Saskatoon area.
First came a series of speeches village elders and Kiiza George, the school principal. Then it was the turn of park authorities. Dr. Margaret Driciru, who is herself a veterinarian, but works as the research and monitoring warden in the park was there as acting chief warden and had performed the ribbon ceremony with Dr. Jo Haigh (pictured here), challenged to school and the students to use the gifts of educational material to achieve as high a standard of academic excellence as possible and aspire to reach their life goals, which might even include warden status in their own park.
Then a highlight. The children put on a small concert and the one of our own, Leighton Coma, performed his wonderful new composition accompanied on his guitar. The leading line of the chorus goes like this “Uganda - The Pearl of Africa.” I will be recording it on my iPod and posting it later.
Then came the big moment – the playing of a video on hippo conservation. About 25 adults and some 40 children watched the whole thing as they ate big lunch that we had funded. An important element was that part of the meal had been cooked by Gorrit, the music teacher at the school and wife of George, in a solar oven that we had also supplied.
Many people present, including all the children, were seeing television for the first time. Unbelievably we do not seem to have a picture of the actual TV watching thing, although it is possible that there is one photo on a student camera that I have not been able to get at. This is because the students are out today with Dr. Ludwig Siefert as he tries to find a lioness whose radio collar needs to be changed as the battery is running down. For some reason the students chose to go with him, despite the fact that they have a day off. ☺ Furthermore they wanted to take their cameras with them. Amazing! ☺
The sessions ended up with a soccer game on the village pitch. Once again the school 1st XI trounced us, but luckily we only played 15 minutes each way. At the time the temperature was a steamy +35 degrees, so we were quite happy to just play the short version. A full match would have had to be ended with a mercy rule, mercy on score grounds, and mercy for rehydration of our team.