St Thomas’ partnership with Busenya School started in 2007, so this year we celebrate our tenth anniversary of working together. Two of the teachers of the school became aware of the existence of the Guildford Mukono Link set up by Councillor Tamsey Baker, amongst others, which was an organisation committed to the development of partnerships with the Mukono region of Uganda. Mukono is 100km east of Kampala. The partnership was designed to foster links at all levels – Council to Council, School to School, Hospital to Hospital, and the group of schools that are linked to schools in the Mukono district has grown over the last five years. The partnership is designed to be a two-way learning experience so that children in Guildford can learn about the lives and challenges of children in Mukono and Mukono children can learn about the lives of children in the UK.
For St. Thomas’ the project has been a tremendous learning experience and the children are developing their knowledge of the culture of a region that is so different from their own. The children are tremendous advocates for the partnership and want to see the partnership go from strength to strength. There have been a number of reciprocal visits by staff from our two schools, Busenya Primary School and St. Thomas of Canterbury Primary School and there is a plan in place to cement the links. The children are extremely keen that children in Busenya have the same facilities that they do and we have helped the School to construct the three classrooms that it needs to house the children who previously had their lessons in dilapidated classrooms or indeed even under a tree.
Since then we have funded and help organise the installation of a much needed water bore-hole, a playground for the children and cooking facilities to ensure that every child has a hot meal each day.
Our ongoing project is B for Busenya... to raise the money to ensure that every child at Busenya Primary School can take a full part in their learning with the provision of exercise books, paper, pens and pencils – all the consumables that otherwise the children have to fund themselves meaning that many have to drop out of school because they do not have the money. We are also helping to provide security fencing for the school to help protect their farm produce.
We have a Year 6 Busenya Team working alongside Staff to coordinate and plan all our activities this year which include Busenya days each term, a sponsored read in the Spring term and lots of fun activities and opportunities to learn and share with our friends in Uganda. In addition our staff have regular Busenya lunches where members of our Busenya team provide a themed meal and staff make donations to enjoy the benefits!
Our hope for 2017-18 is for teachers from Busenya to visit us once again but there have been problems in obtaining visas and so the plan is not without its hiccups! However, we know we will overcome the obstacles and look forward to welcoming the staff soon – watch this space…
We also keep in touch with the children with letters and Christmas Cards!