The day after term ended, 16 Lower Sixth Form students set out from school to join with the work of ‘International Needs’ in Uganda as they put into place a ‘Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Project’. Given the focus on making clean water available to the communities of Buikwe province, it was somewhat ironic that a major water mains burst had left parts of Chislehurst without water as they left Eltham!

Upon arrival, students were fully immersed in Ugandan life. They helped to build a public waste pit, build a site waste disposal incinerator, learnt some basic Luganda (‘webberlay’!), supported community outreach promoting good hygiene practices, made hand washing tools and played many informal games of football, volleyball and netball with Ugandan students.

The students found themselves out of their comfort zone at various points, but all of them felt they had encountered the real Uganda and got to know, in the words of one of the students, ‘the kindest people I’ve ever met’. All of the Ugandan staff of ‘International Needs’ were brilliant as hosts, but special mention must go to Irene their wonderful cook.

Tremendous credit must go to the students for entering into all that was on offer so wholeheartedly, even trying to out-dance the Pastor at the Youth Service they all attended. Also, through their efforts before the trip, together with funds raised from family and friends plus money from an ‘Own Clothes Day’ and ‘Three Peaks Challenge’ they have been able to donate about £10,000 to the ‘WASH’ project in Buikwe. All being well, the bulk of that money will cover the cost of a borehole located near to the schools run by ‘International Needs’. They carried with them in their luggage many school uniforms which have already been distributed. Students, also, donated various items of surplus clothing.

Hopefully this trip will be the first of many in partnership with ‘International Needs’. Many thanks to all the students for representing Eltham College. Thanks also to Ali Mbugua for being such a great leader on behalf of ‘International Needs’; Sarah Fletcher who did so much administration to ensure the trip happened; and to (Mr….convention?) James Willatt for his energy, wisdom and support throughout.