A Weekend in Semuto

Last weekend, I sat around a campfire, sipping sweet ginger tea and listening to different riddles proposed by students at Wells of Hope. We danced, ate roasted maize and chapattis, and shared stories with each other. The Head Office at Wells of Hope let Esther (Intern from Kyambogo University, Kampala) and I spend a weekend with the children, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

As someone from the West, I have not spent much time in village settings. I struggled with squat toilets, eating meals of posho and beans (as my stomach does not handle this well), and remembering to drink enough water. These things did not stop me though, as I was determined to spend as much time as possible with the children.

On Friday, we set off to Wells of Hope High School, intending to host a campfire for the high schoolers. Unfortunately, we were only able to spend a few hours with the High School students, but we spent that time to the fullest. They taught me how to dance, invited me to play games with me, and showed me so much love and compassion. Once the fire began dwindling down, Esther, Babra (Assistant Programs Coordinator), and I set off for the Wells of Hope Junior School.

Before breakfast, I spent some time with the younger girls at Wells of Hope Junior School. I’m not sure how well they were able to understand my English, but I think this was a good start for the rest of the weekend. They showed me how to cool down my porridge when it got too hot and laughed at me as I continued to burn my tongue. Quite on brand for me – I only discovered the sugar at the end of my meal.

The children then broke off into groups to practice singing for Camp David. I was not very good at these, but I loved hearing all of the pupils sing together. Some of them have really wonderful voices! At this point, some of the younger children broke off from the group, so I played with them on the playground. They are beyond adventurous, and, as I learned that day, I am no longer great on seesaws. Some of them walked us over to see the farms as well! I developed a little following of a few of the younger girls. They pointed out different places on the school grounds and pointed out the piglets and goats.

We then proceeded to lunch, where I had my first meal of posho and beans. My stomach struggled afterwards, but I joined the children in their next practice session. Afterwards, we watched some Tom and Jerry together and watched some of the older boys play football against the village kids. We won the game and celebrated with a little dance party! As always, the children at Wells of Hope give me a run for my money – I am nowhere near as great as they are.

After dinner, we prepared for a second campfire. I held two children in my lap. They proceeded to speak to me in Luganda and laugh when I could not understand what they were saying. I loved it. We finished the trip the same way we started: laughing and sharing good memories by the fire.

I love the children at Wells of Hope. They have taught me more than I could’ve possibly imagined, and I will never forget my time with them. Thank you to Wells of Hope Head Office for giving me this opportunity.

Written by Anooshka Gupta, intern from the University of Michigan, USA

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