Ah, this was magic! Rotaractors don’t gather from across East Africa everyday…this one was a year ender, a fitting send off for a year that was full of projects, fun and well- ROTARACT!
On 29th July 2013, all traffic to Masaka, UG was diverted to alternative routes as the Rotaract juggernaut rolled into town. The Rotaract Club of Masaka played host to the first East African Joint Project, hosting Rotaractors from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. The point? One or two schools could use some hand washing training.
No one wants kids to fall ill of things Rotaract can handle so in we strolled with hand washing equipment (stands and containers), hard and liquid soap, enough knowledge and some serious music (the music was for club consumption, don’t be alarmed); but before we could get started, we needed to dress up- we had some sweet t-shirts for emphasis- and while i get myself some popcorns, reader, trawl through a few pics- in the spirit of Rotary; –
As you might have noticed, the red t-shirts kinda looked cute. You might also have noticed the mood in the air….teachers had come, and teachers needed to get started so even without lunch (imagine- empty stomachs) we set off, directed by our host president to Kijabweni Primary school, Masaka where, led by Rotaractor Eric from Kisumu Kenya, the kids were taken through hand washing steps- not the usual steps many of you are used to, these ones actually involve singing that famed happy birthday… you look like a monkey timeless song! The kids obliged, and washed their hands thoroughly- you can’t be sure that you can wash your hands well until you Google these steps. Alternatively, you could ask a R.E.A.C.T attendee near you.
There was a question and answer session in which the kids (and even some bearded ‘kids’) participated and won themselves soap and other goodies. It was in a manner where one kid asks a question and another answers. The rotaractors were able referees. It was nice watching the satisfaction on the headmaster’s eyes.
After the training here, we left them with the hand washing equipment we used, as well as lots of bar and liquid soap and set off for our next presentation (on empty stomachs I MUST REMIND YOU)!
At the other end of Masaka town was a humble Nursery and Primary School- Villa Road Primary School. The school ain’t your typical villa, but i guess it’s the road beside which it sits that leads to some exotic villa- anything is possible in UG. Anyway, so we rolled into the compound to curious attention from the kids; they couldn’t stop us, but if they could, i trust they would have asked for some IDs. They wanted to know what it was that had brought a large team of guys around here.
Apparently, nsenene (grasshopper) catchers in Masaka camp a lot at schools while wearing Red, white, dark blue, or anything they can find waiting to catch grasshoppers (not true- i made that up but you get the idea- kids were just to minute to mount a challenge). Anyway, so we met the teachers, who hurriedly assembled the kids and Rtr. Vivian from Kisumu Kenya took the mic…sorry, the stage after Rtr. Ben (host president) had made the introductions. Vivian took the kids through health issues like disease control before teaching- in practicality the ‘happy birthday…you look like a monkey’ hand washing routine.
After the demo, we handed the staff members with hand washing equipment, lots of soap and well- lots of love. The kids were enthusiastic and lovely, listening attentively and when we turned to leave, some even shed tears (that one is true) and reluctantly walked us out and (i think) stormed the headmaster’s office to look for the goodies we had just handed over. This theory is supported by the fact that- armed with art pencils and books, they were careful to draw everything we handed over to the headmaster.
I might also add that behind the classroom and towards the dormitories, there was enough stock of ready posho and beans. Being hungry (i swear i am not whinging), it was tempting to take a shot at school dining hall days but nah, the Job was done here and we were heading to Masaka sports club to eat post school food, wash it down with soda (really) and shoot some pool. The posho here wasn’t going to do.
At the sports club, we had our quick lunch, soda and the talented ones played pool. Sorry but i won’t wet appetites here with lunch photos, you just know that food was eaten. For photos, please send a special request.
Anyway, after lunch, Rotaractors headed- energized to St. Jude SS, Masaka to inspect Rotaract trees from the previous projects. With the high rate of deforestation in Uganda, we had to be sure that the Interact club here was doing its duty in keeping the trees free from danger. Good thing then that they were doing their bit. The trees were in place, ever growing green and strong. To the interact club of St. Jude, you may never see this but cheers!!!
We dropped a few coins in the club’s treasury, inducted one new Interactor and we headed back to Masaka sports club for certificates and to eat some cake. We came with cake.
After the certification and cake eating that marked the close of the projects (it was late and we weren’t going to help kids wash hands at night), it was time for the Rotaract swallowship. Routes into Masaka were reopened for traffic, and those entering Club Ambiance closed as we rolled in.
Many Rotaractors tell me that it was a fun night, that they danced to different tunes from the 1990s and Bob Marley’s reggae tunes. I went there, but can’t figure out what happened…all i can say is that Rotarian Rose Onoka from Kenya will be answering some questions from me next time we meet.
The night closed down Masaka, and officially marked the end of REACT 2013. It was a groundbreaking project, first of its kind. It will be an annual project hence forth, and hopefully, we will get Tanzania on board this Rotary year for REACT 2014 in Bujumbura- Burundi- ah!
A toast, to the Rotary Club of Kisumu, Rotaract Club of Kisumu, Rotaract Club of Kigali Institute of Education (KIE), Rotaract Club of Kigali City, Rotaract Club of Inyenyeri, Rotaract Club of Kampala Central, Rotaract Club of Mbarara, and of course the host, the Rotaract club of Masaka.
To all the guys who put their heads together to get this rolling, thank you. Cheers to the organizing team, Elizabeth Ochola, Fred Nabbimba, Host President Ben Katongole (dude…that place was dope…very dope) and all you of us- we are Jolly good fellows, and Masaka is still dizzy.