“Life changing”; “inspiring”; “extraordinary”… just a few of the comments from some of the 19 Woodhouse Grove students, who, accompanied by staff, undertook a three week expedition to Uganda over the summer break. Over the previous 18 months the school body had raised getting on for £20,000 to donate to various projects in the Gulu area, and the trip was motivated to see how this money was making a difference to the lives of people in Uganda.

A two day journey from Woodhouse Grove – via Heathrow, Abu Dhabi and Kampala – saw us arrive in Gulu in northern Uganda, where we would be living and working for ten days. The whole motivation for going to Uganda was inspired by the work done in the Gulu area by Shirley Crawford, formerly nursing sister at WGS, who was unfortunately unable to be with us during our time there. Despite this initial setback, the group threw themselves in to the experience here (with the charity Watoto) with gusto, principally in helping to construct a security fence and working and interacting with staff and pupils at the onsite school. Just being in Africa is a real sensory overload: add to this cooking our own food, living under canvas, having cold showers, dodging mosquitos, handwashing clothes (parents make a note of all these tasks that your teenage children CAN do!), and it was an exhausting, exhilarating, exciting escapade. Whilst in Gulu we also visited an orphange, local school, outreach services for teenage girls and a remand home; all of these were humbling and eye-opening experiences.

After Gulu we travelled to the mountainous south-east of the country, to  undertake what proved to be a very arduous, (and wet!), four day trek up Mt Elgon (4321m). Once again, the sudents proved themselves to be determined, organised and resourceful, and all but one made it up the ‘wall of death’, through treacherous rainforests and to the summit.

The whole three weeks was a strenuous, testing, but ultimately very rewarding experience – the students will have memories that will last a lifetime, and they will ultimately have made a difference to people and organisations in Uganda. The students were outstanding, a real credit to themselves, their families and to the school: rarely have I personally felt more proud to be associated with WGS.

Mr Richard Johnson

See more photos here