The Royal Visit
His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex visits Soft Power Education
On Sunday 18th September 2011 we were honoured to receive a visit from His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex who had been in Kenya working with the international arm of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. He came to Jinja on a one day visit taking in the war memorials, Owen Falls Dam (opened by the Queen in 1947) and then Soft Power Education.
A huge thank you firstly to all of the SPE staff who made this day possible, secondly to the staff at The British High Commission in Kampala and of course to His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex for visiting Soft Power Education.
More photos of the day and the rest of the visit to Uganda can be seen here http://www.flickr.com/photos/53900865@N03/with/6159132322/
SPE Celebrates 10 Years
10 Years of Soft Power Education
On Saturday 7th November 2009, Soft Power Education celebrated 10 years of working in Uganda and over 400 community members came to help us celebrate at the Amagezi Education Centre. Volunteers and staff alike had worked hard to prepare the site with a fresh coat of paint to the buildings, lots of weeding and an early start!
We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped with the organisation both before and on the day, we would not have been able to do it without you all. Here’s to the next 10 years!
Murchison Memories Exhibition
Murchison Memories Exhibition
Left: Ponsiano Ssemwezi, the former director of Uganda National Parks at Paraa Education Centre in Murchison Falls National Park.
Right: The Soft Power Education refurbished Paraa Education Centre in 2007.
Our Murchison Memories Exhibition aims to highlight social, historical and cultural attributes that impact current conservation issues. Through photographs, artifacts, stories and contemporary art the exhibition is designed to allow local school children and overseas visitors alike to learn more about conservation and the challenges both the national park and its surrounding communities face.
In the 1960s Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP) was a premier tourist attraction that received up to 60,000 tourists a year. Since then, decades of national and regional turmoil ravaged the park’s lodges and other facilities, leaving Uganda’s tourism industry in a dismal state. Today, tourism in Uganda is booming. We believe that it is vital that people maintain an appreciation of the reasons why Murchison Falls National Park is the way it is.
Schools’ Festival 2008
This year’s festival was held on Friday 21st November at Kyomya Primary School, one of the partner schools, 22 schools were invited, 21 honoured the invitation (95.5% attendance). Each school was represented by 10 pupils from Primary 6 (P6) (5 boys and 5 girls) and at least two teachers. The day’s theme was: “EDUCATION THROUGH SUSTAINABLE SKILLS AND ADVANCE INTO THE FUTURE”
On this fantastic day of the festival the activities included were those that are taught in our five different departments, we had a thriller of a mini football competition and other games.
The day’s activities were funded by; All Terrain Adventure (ATV) who offered ATV rides for the best performing school on the day – that is 10 pupils and 2 teachers; Volunteers who donated pens, exercise books, soccer balls, sport uniform kit (sports award), and also participated in the preparations and day’s activities; Orient Banks Ltd who offered 25 crates of soda and lastly; Soft Power Education who funded the transport from the day, a delicious lunch, Primary Leaving Examination questions and answers bank, a shield for the school with the best participation and consistence in attendance at Amagezi Education Centre (AEC), t-shirts and other various prizes and costs during preparations, on the day as well as afterwards.
Budondo Primary School won both prizes for the day’s best school and school with the best participation and consistence in attendance at AEC, while Bufuula Primary School won the sports award.
Summary of the day’s activities
We were looking at the pupils’ sense of creativity, expression and how to use their bodies to communicate a message in a fun and exciting way. This was done in the form of music, dance and drama. All the schools performed fantastically, but there had to be a winner; Nakanyonyi Primary School came out on top, closely followed by Budondo and St. Mary’s Nsuube.
Amagezi Education Centre teaches pupils the different parts of a computer, how to use them and their importance to a computer user. These pupils are empowered with basic skills of using and working with both the computer hardware and software. During the day pupils exhibited what they had learnt at the centre. A whopping 9 schools managed to score top marks in this section; congratulations to Nakanyonyi, Buyala Catholic, Kyabirwa, Buwagi, Buwenda, Wakitaka, Nawangoma, Lukolo C/U and St. John’s Kizinga!
With the promotion of sustainable agriculture, pupils in groups of 10 competed in making organic pesticides. Here the emphasis was on the process and proper utlisation of the ingredients provided. An amazing 11 schools managed to score top marks on this challenge; congratulations to St. Mary’s Nsuube, Mutai, Kagoma, Kyomya, Al-Swidiiq, Buyala Catholic, Buwenda, Wakitaka, Wansimba, Lukolo Muslim and Nawangoma!
AEC believes in fun, creative and hands on educational experiences, so pupils are taught arts and crafts to exploit their potential to practically create new things using their own hands. This is done in many ways e.g. moulding and pottery, drawing, mixing colours and painting. Congratulations to Budondo, Kyomya, Kyabirwa, Buwagi and Wansimba who all achieved top marks!
Pupils in groups of 10 competed in the making of sanitary pads using local materials. Here emphasis was on the process of making sanitary pads in a specific time. Congratulations to Buwagi, who scored top marks, followed closely by St. Mary’s Nsuube, Buyala Catholic, Kyomya, Lukolo C/U.
Mini Football Competition
It was great to see female pupils playing football as this is not very common; in some instances the girls were better than the boys! The goal keeper was a teacher who was not supposed to use his/her hands to prevent the ball from crossing the goal line. At the end of the day Bufuula Primary School was crowned winner and given a set of football jerseys as a prize.
|Day’s Best School||
|1st – Budondo||ATV rides, 1 ball|
|2nd – Nakanyonyi||PLE Questions and Answers bank, 10 Exercise Books, 10 Pens, 10 Pencils, a Football and 2 SPE T-shirts|
|3rd – St. Mary’s Nsuube||10 Exercise books, 10 Pens, 10 Pencils, a Football and 2 SPE T-shirts|
|1st – Bufuula||Hard Bounce Ball, 1 Football and Sports Kit, 2 SPE T-shirts|
|2nd – Buwagi||10 Exercise Books, 10 Pens, 10 Pencils, 10 Colour Pencils, 1 Football, 2 SPE T-shirts|
Best Attendance & Participation at Centre
|1st – Budondo||PLE Questions and Answers bank, 2 SPE T-shirts and 2 small notebooks|
|2nd – Nakanyonyi||1 Ball, 2 SPE T-shirts and 2 Small note books|
|3rd – Nawangoma||1 Ball and 2 small Note Books|
All participants were served a delicious lunch!
All in all it was a very successful day, with at least 210 children, 50 teachers and more than 150 community members in attendance!
Schools’ Festival 2009
This year’s festival was held on Friday 13th November at Kivubuka Primary School, one of the partner schools. 27 schools were invited, 24 honoured the invitation (88.9% attendance). Each school was represented by 10 pupils from primary six (P6) (4 boys and 6 girls) and at least two teachers. Unlike 2008, at this year’s schools festival three shields were given out as prizes for the winning schools – the best school in the outreach programmes, the school with consistence in attendance and most participation at Amagezi Education Centre (AEC) and lastly one for the best or overall winner of the days activites.
The day’s theme was: “The role of a child’s skill as an agent of change in the community”.
On this spectacular day the activities included were those that are taught in our six different departments; Drama, Library, ICT, Art, Science and Agriculture. In addition to these, we also had a classic of a mini football competition.
The day’s activities were funded by; Nile River Explorers, who offered to foot part of the catering resources bill for the day; Volunteers who donated pens, exercise books, soccer balls, sport uniform kit (sports award), and also participated in the preparations and day’s activities;Orient Banks Ltd who offered 14 crates of soda; African Minerals and Rwenzori who offered mineral water for the day and lastly; Soft Power Education (SPE) who funded the transport from the day, a delicious lunch, shields for the best performing schools in the three categories, t-shirts and various other prizes and costs during preparations, on the day as well as afterwards.
Budondo Primary School won the day’s best school prize for the third consecutive time, Nakanyonyi won the prize for the school with best participation and consistence in attendance at AEC, Kagoma Hill won the prize of best school in the outreach programmes, while Bufuula Primary School won the sports award.
SPE also funded two fun days, one at Budondo and another at Nakanyonyi Primary schools in which all the P6 pupils participated to celebrate their school’s performance.
Summary of the day’s activities
Here we were looking at the pupils’ sense of creativity, expression and how to use their bodies to communicate a message in a more fun and exciting way, this was done in the form of music, dance and drama. At the end of the competition Budondo Primary School emerged winners, while Nakanyonyi P/S came a close second.
AEC teaches pupils the different parts of a computer, how to use them and their importance to a computer user. These pupils are empowered with basic skills of using and working with both the computer hardware and software. During the day, the pupils exhibited what they had learnt at the centre.
With the promotion of sustainable agriculture, in groups of 2-3 pupils, the students competed in making a compost heap. Here emphasis was on the identification and arrangement of materials used in making compost.
AEC believes in fun, creative and hands on educational experiences, so pupils are taught arts and crafts to exploit their potential to practically create new things using their own hands. This is done in many ways e.g. moulding and pottery, drawing, mixing colours and painting. During the festival, pupils exhibited the different skills they had acquired.
Pupils in groups of 2-3 competed in making sanitary pads using local materials. Here the emphasis was on the process of making the pads, how to avoid a bad odour and identifying the use of a tip tap in a specific time.
Pupils in groups of 10 competed in identifying fiction and non-fiction books, identifying book titles and authors and demonstrating how mosquito nets are utilised.
Mini Football competition
Boys and girls really got stuck into this years football competition. The goalkeeper was a teacher who was not supposed to use his/her hands to prevent the ball from crossing the goal line. At the end of the day Bufuula P/S was crowned the winner for the second consecutive year.
|Day’s Best School||School Prize||Participating Pupils’ prizes||Teachers’ prizes|
|1st – Budondo||A Shield, fun day for the whole P6 class at their school, full set of football jerseys, 1 football||10 calculators, 10 bags, 40 pencils, 40 pens, 10 coloured pencils, 20 crayons, 10 sharpeners, 10 erasers, 10 rulers||2 Soft Power T-shirts and 2 red pens|
|2nd – Nakanyonyi||Full set of football jerseys, 1 football||10 calculators, 10 pencils, 40 pens, 10 coloured pencils, 10 crayons, 10 sharpeners, 10 erasers||2 Donated t-shirts and 2 red pens|
|3rd Walukuba West||6 small rubber balls||40 pens, 10 pencils, 10 crayons, 10 sharpeners, 10 erasers, 10 rulers||2 Donated t-shirts and 2 red pens|
|Best Attendance and participation||School Prize||Teachers’ prizes|
|1st – Nakanyonyi||A Shield, fun day for the whole P6 class at their school, full set of football jerseys, 1 football||2 Soft Power T-shirts and 2 red pens|
|2nd – Kagoma Hill||Full set of football jerseys, 1 football||2 Donated t-shirts and 2 red pens|
|3rd – Nawangoma||6 small rubber balls||2 Donated t-shirts and 2 red pens|
|Best Outreach Participation||School Prize|
|1st – Kagoma Hill||1 Wheelbarrow, tree seedling, 1 hoe, 1 shovel, a shield|
|2nd – Nakanyonyi||1 hoe, 1 shovel, 1 tree seedling|
|3rd – Nawangoma||1 hoe, 1 shovel, 1 tree seedling|
|Sports Awards||School Prize||Participating Pupils’ prizes||Teachers’ prizes|
|1st – Bufuula||Sports Jerseys, 1 football, 1 tree seedling||10 bags, 20 pencils, 10 pens, 10 crayons, 10 sharpeners, 10 erasers, 10 rulers||2 Soft Power t-shirts and 2 red pens|
|2nd – Walukuba West||1 netball, 6 sports skirts||10 bags, 10 pencils, 10 rulers, 10 pens, 10 crayons, 10 sharpeners, 10 erasers||2 donated t-shirts and 2 red pens|
Soft Power Education gave every participating school a certificate of participation and a soccer ball. Each participant was given a pencil, 4 coloured pencils, 4 crayons, 1 eraser and a pencil sharpener – that is 240 pencils, 960 coloured pencils, 960 crayons, 240 erasers and 240 sharpeners.
All participants and guests were served a delicious lunch of rice, beef, g-nuts, cabbage as well as 2 bottles of water and a soda each.
All in all it was again a very successful day, with at least 240 children, 76 teachers, and more than 100 community members in attendance.
We are looking forward to seeing another successful festival in 2010, and therefore urge other interested organisations and well wishers, volunteers too, to come and join us in our preparations for the 2010 Schools Festival!
Last but not least, we send our sincere thanks to all those who had a hand in the success of the 2009 Schools Festival. We look forward to your future cooperation and support!
Schools’ Festival 2013
Soft Power Education and The Amagezi Education Centre hold an amazing fun filled festival in evaluation of its annual activities at the end of every year. Each year all partner schools who attend sessions at the centre and in outreach in schools, converge at a selected venue to exhibit what they have learnt and achieved from the sessions taught to them by AEC tutors. The activities taught at the centre and schools are all aimed at giving the pupils sustainable life skills, which they can use in the future and act as change agents in the community;
24 schools attended this year with each school represented by 10 pupils from P6 and two teachers with an additional 10 teachers from the host school also attending. Like any social function, community members from the surroundings of the host school also attended. In total the festival attracted over 600 people.
The theme of the day was “Positive child involvement brightens the future”. In a fun, innovative dynamic and creative way, we used a Drama Quiz, Pupils’ home visits and school visits to evaluate retention and implementation levels of what was taught to the pupils by the AEC staff between February and October 2013.
The day saw athletics, drama, a quiz and of course a delicious lunch!
Nakanyonyi Primary School were the overall winners of the day, closely followed by Butiki Primary School.
Drama was won by Nakanyonyi P/S with Kyomya P/S following close behind.
Athletics was won by Buyala Catholic P/S and the Outreach winner was Butiki P/S.
A huge thank you to everyone who participated in the day, volunteers and staff who ran all the events and all of the sponsors who donated prizes.
Buwenda Pre-School Refurbishment
In the summer of 2007 we welcomed a lovely volunteer named Paul. He took on the challenge of giving Buwenda pre school an entirely new look. With the help of many other volunteers, a few builders and the staff at the school, Buwenda pre school was transformed in just a few short weeks. We would like to say a huge thank you to each and every person who helped with this project.
This is how the pre school looked before Paul started work.
An inside wall was knocked down to let in more light and create a larger classroom; the front and back yards were evened out and new flower beds put in; the whole school was painted inside and out with some amazing drawings mostly done by a very talented young man called Ryan. The pit latrines were painted and the jungle gym repaired; a play house installed at the front of the school and paper mache objects hung from the ceiling. At at this is how it looks now..
Kyabirwa Childrens' Centre Refurbishment
In the summer of 2007 we had some very dedicated volunteers who took on the challenge of refurbishing Kyabirwa Children’s Centre. It didn’t need quite as much work as Buwenda Pre School but Niamh, Anna, Olivia, Helen and Browny along with many others took the pre school and gave it a whole new brightly coloured look.
The outside was repainted with an incredible mural on the back of the school and fun rhymes and pictures on the front
The inside was given a fresh coat of paint with teaching aids painted all over, like Helen is doing on the left
The jungle gym was repaired and a freshly painted water catchment tank reinstalled
The result was a beautiful bright new pre school for the 120 pupils.
Jinja Marathon 2009
Jinja Marathon 2009
The 2009 Jinja Great Gorilla Marathon
Sunday 17th May saw the very first Great Gorilla Marathon in Jinja. The event, organised by 2:09 Events from the UK and a race committee here in Uganda, intended to raise funds for both Soft Power Education and The Gorilla Organisation and raise funds it did!
The day started at 7.30 at the Source of the Nile in Jinja, where the runners started from, for either a half marathon of 21km or a gruelling full marathon of 42km. The field was a wide variety of semi professional runners, total amateurs and those who at the 1km marker began to wonder what they had signed themselves up for. There was an even mix of half international runners and half Ugandans, old and young alike. Our very own Kibii and Venus set off for the full marathon and long time supporter Jackie Smith also ran in the half marathon. The beginning of the course was mostly on lovely smooth roads unaffected by the recent heavy downpours but by the time they reached Bujagali runners were getting sick of the sight of another muddy track!
Ever the shy and retiring type our Kibii! Venus keeps pace with Kibii and Jackie and Georgie curse Shaz for insisting they smile for a photo whilst they are trying to run!
As Kibii and Venus crossed the 10km marker at the front of the field, up at The Nile River Explorers Campsite about 30 people were getting ready to take part in the 5km Fun Run. Now for those of you who have been here, I would like you to think back to those little tracks around Kyabirwa village and how muddy they became after a night of rain! That’s right, it was a mud bath! They all came back with varying patterns of mud splattered up the backs of their legs and all grew several inches thanks to the mud caked to the bottom of their trainers! Hannah, her kids, Sarah, Jami, Eithne and lots of others took part and great fun was had by all!
The half marathon finished at the NRE campsite and for those doing the full marathon they had to run into the NRE campsite and then turn straight around and run back out again onto the second loop! There were plenty of people there to cheer them on and one Ugandan even ran the entire full marathon with bare feet!
Would you believe they have all just run a half marathon or a full marathon? (except for Dirk!) It looks like they do it everyday! Kibii finished the full marathon in 2nd place with a time of 3 hours 50 minutes. The winner finished in a little over 3 hours. Venus suffered a knee injury but battled on to complete the half marathon in an impressive 2 hours and 25 minutes. We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in the organisation and marshalling, those who participated and of course the supporters. We hope to make next year even bigger and better!
Kibii and Venus are all smiles at the end – they should be too! Thank you to everyone who donated on their Just Giving page – they raised £1250! If you would still like to donate it is not too late, just go towww.justgiving.com/kibiiandvenus. Jackie Smith also set up a Just Giving page and raised over £1300!
From entrance fees, raffle tickets, food, drinks etc the event is estimated to have raised over 5 million shillings in total. Some of this will come to Soft Power and some to The Gorilla Organisation, so well done to everyone involved.
It’s funny how things start. Back in July 2008, a few people got talking and said how great it would be if there were to be a pantomime in Jinja as there had never been one before.
Now this set a challenge, but Endowoza Arts Centre Project Manager, Penny, had been involved with professional pantomime for many years at the theatre she worked at in England and agreed to be director and co producer. Events suddenly escalated and the next thing we knew, an eager and enthusiastic amateur Jinja Community Theatre Group had formed with a magical Cinderella script written, audition date set and venue booked – with all proceeds going to Soft Power Education!
Things moved quickly and we had lots of people, ready and willing, to give pantomime a go. What was truly amazing was how everyone offered their help, not just cast keen to try their hands at acting, but costumes, lighting, music, set construction – not once did we have to browbeat anyone in to lending a hand. We were very fortunate to find so many talented amateur actors, most of whom had never set foot on a stage before.
From the Soft Power team in Uganda, our very own ICT expert, Silas, made his stage debut playing the part of the lovelorn Buttons and Drama Tutor James made a very dashing and spirited dancer. Soft Power founder Hannah’s, two eldest daughters also looked very cute in their roles in the junior chorus. Backstage we had Kibii, not surprisingly, very capably running the bar and Ofono the Arts Centre sales. George (from George’s Book Exchange) was a brilliant Technical Manager and he programmed computerised sound and lighting – wow!
Many Soft Power volunteers came to help out and turned their hands to sewing rats and mice, stewarding, painting scenery, selling programmes and decorating the venue. But special thanks must go to Jeff and Tony who transformed an old trailer into Cinderella’s glittering pumpkin coach. The gasps from the audience were audible as it grandly entered the stage. Not quite up to West End standards, but pretty good for Jinja!
With lots of loud boos and hisses and shouts of ‘it’s behind you’, the audience immersed themselves in the magical tale of Cinderella’s rise from rags to riches. With shouts and cheers throughout, the audience were truly in that traditional panto spirit.
A fabulous time had by all – cast, crew and audience alike. Jinja Community Theatre Group performed three shows of Cinderella at Jinja Senior Secondary School in December 2008. Most remarkably the performances raised an astonishing 3 million shillings for Soft Power Education, more than they could have hoped for.
Six months on, the cast and crew are still humming the songs, and some still know their script. But the main question on everyone’s lips is ‘What are we going to do next year?’ Well, the answer is easy – Aladdin and his Magic Lamp.
12 Hour Cycle Marathons
12 Hour Cycle Marathon 2006
On Saturday 23rd September 2006, Soft Power Education held an awesome 12 hour cycle marathon. We had 14 teams of 4, and 2 solo riders competing for the most laps in 12 hours. For Jackie and Shaz, the day started at 5am, marking out the course, on a quad bike, in the torrential rain. The course was a dirt track, so anyone who has been to Uganda, and Bujagali in particular, will know that after 6 hours of rain, the course was a sticky mess of red mud.
The fun started at 7.30am, when the rain had stopped. The lucky members of each team, who were selected to do the 1st lap, set off taking anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours to complete the 5kms. Bikes got clogged up with mud and refused to move, cyclists carried their bikes any which way just to get round the course. A new reason to wear a cycle helmet emerged – to make it easier to carry your bike on your head…
After the initial wet start, the sun shone and dried out the course, and the laps mounted up. The winning team with the most laps, was Nile Breweries (see photo below), and the winning individual entry was Jesper (see photo below) who completed an astonishing 42 laps – over 200km! The event raised over $2000! To put that into perspective, that is enough to refurbish a classroom, buy 60,000 bricks, or 11,000Kgs of cement. We would like to extend our huge thanks to all those who took part and to all our sponsors. We hope that you will all join us again for next years marathon. Here are just a few photos of the day:
12 Hour Cycle Marathon 2007
The 2007 12 Hour Cycle Marathon was another success and luckily this year the rain stayed away and the course stayed dry. Shaz wasn’t quite ready to face putting the markers out again and replacing her feet with 2 clumps of mud!
The day was a huge success with 15 teams competing. The Pottery Boys put in an incredible performance determined to beat the Nile Breweries team.
After fighting all day long they came in second. Nile Breweries maintained their unbeaten title and took home a brand new mountain bike kindly donated by Jupiter Building Supplies. The Pottery boys came in second and also took home a bike kindly donated by Phenix (our tshirt supplier). Everyone else raced well too and the local community enjoyed the music and surrounding party.
We would like to thank all of the participants for their enthusiasm, the volunteers who helped organise the day and the sponsors who donated money and prizes.
It really would not have been possible without all these people and we raised a huge $2000!