Work Day at Bishop’s

Hello! Today we did only a few things but completed a lot of work. The day began relatively early at 7 am. Many of us woke up before the sun rose during our homestays to milk the cows or fetch water at the bases of the hills, but our early mornings were also accompanied by early nights. Staying at Jim’s house, which isn’t short on electricity, has kept us up longer at night and asleep later in the day.

After we arrived at school, we were ushered into their morning chapel service which began a little after 8. We found our seats at the front of the chapel and as soon as we sat down, we were engulfed by the beautiful voices of the Bishop’s High School students singing there school anthem. Their confidence and flow made it almost impossible not to join in with their rhythmic claps. The Ugandan national anthem came next, followed by announcements from the headmaster and chairperson. Then three student prefects came afterwards, each with their own comments and announcements for the week.

The first class of the day came directly after chapel. We all read intermediate books to the Senior 1 (S1) students. It was hard teaching to the S1 class of ninety students, but I still enjoyed reading Leo the Late Bloomer, a book about cowboys, and showing them a children’s atlas of the United States. The class of S2 students came next; their class was more enjoyable and manageable because they only had thirty students.

After morning tea we got down to work. We finished putting on primer paint in one of the classrooms (I had to climb a particularly tall ladder), and Ycar and Eddie sawed firewood outside. While they sawed, some of the others broke up kindling outside. By the time we completed these things it was time for lunch; the school kitchen cooked a delicious, nutritious meal. We had fresh mashed plantains, steaming rice, tasty noodles, potatoes (which are actually called Irish here, because they have their own native potatoes), sweet cabbage, and beans bursting with flavor. It was a lunch that you could only eat in Uganda.

During lunch Jacob and I visited the families of our homestay hosts, Boise and Crissant. They live less than 400 yards away from the school and less than sixty yards away from each other; so it was by no means an exhausting walk. The family of Jacob’s host Boise wasn’t there, but my host Crissant’s was. The family was very excited to see us, because our homestay had officially ended the day before. As a gift, they gave me a whole, fresh papaya grown less than 200 feet away from their home. I spoke with Crissant’s mother, uncle, and sister for a short while inside their house, but the situation quickly changed once they asked me if I wanted to say hello to Crissant’s cousins. We walked about 100 feet down the hill and met Crissant’s aunt once we got there. She asked me if I wanted to get a mango, and I told her that I would, but I didn’t realize what I had gotten myself into. She pointed to the sky and said “There’s a mango.” I looked up and realized that I was standing right beneath the mango tree. She told me to climb up and grab it because I was the tallest person she’s seen (I’m 6’2”, but many of the people here aren’t much taller than 5’4” or 5’6”). The mangos were about twenty feet in the air, but the tree looked flimsy at best. Nevertheless, I embarked on my journey. The first ten feet of the climb were effortless. During the next five feet, the difficulty of the climb rose only slightly. But then I noticed a steady stream of ants climbing all along the trunk of tree. I panicked a little but had to hold it together because the mangoey end was in sight. I climbed four feet before I couldn’t go any further. And I had to stretch and just reached the mangos and saw them fall to the ground. After my climbing the uncle climbed up and got some mangos much more gracefully than me, and then the aunt pulled out a fifteen foot pole with a blade on the end used just for cutting down mangos; I couldn’t help but feel that my efforts had been in vain. So I returned to school with a whole papaya and three mangos.

After our lunch break, we resumed our work. Atiba, Eddie, and I began preparing a metal rocket stove, a clay rocket stove, and a three stone stove, respectively, for our afternoon demonstrative experiment to the S4 students. The experiment went reasonably well. The metal rocket stove boiled the water in the shortest amount of time, and the three stone stove took quite a while longer. Unfortunately, the clay stove, the one that we built, sizzled out in the middle of the experiment. We identified the problem, and now our other demonstrations/trials should go as planned. And if you’re wondering why it’s called a rocket stove: it’s because of the air rushing in through the bottom to make a better burning stove.

I had a tasty snack of fried bread called “amasad,” which only cost 8 US cents. We finished up half of the classroom with a top layer of paint and came back to Jim’s house in the evening. And the dinner had french fries!

–          Malik

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