“We Sustain”: The Royal Logistic Corps Lends a Hand to HYT’s Efforts in Kamuli

Posted on April 28th, 2017


Training the Corps

Soldiers joined trainees to learn HYT’s green building techniques, such as mixing soil for earth blocks.

 

Earlier this month, we were delighted to welcome the men and women of 4 Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) to Kayembe Primary School, Uganda. The team was made up of 15 members from different battalions undergoing Adventurous Training with Kayak the Nile. It was reassuring knowing that, should anything go wrong on the 2-hour journey to site, we were in good company.

 

Unconventional Transport for the Royal Logistic Corps

Transport is a forte of the Logistic Corps, who luckily didn’t have to help push the bus on this occasion! 

 

Fortunately, the vehicle cruised smoothly through Kamuli region’s stunning landscape, offering everyone a reminder of the fragile environment that HYT campaigns to save. Exactly how we do this, the team would soon find out.

 

Mangoes for the Corps

A quick stop to eat from the mango tree, whose tasty fruits often save it from being cut down for firewood.

 

Upon arrival at site, Trainer Freddo welcomed the visitors, who were divided into two teams. The first began making our unique Interlocking Stabilised Soil Blocks (ISSB) using the manual press from Makiga. While they were learning the nuances of this novel technique, the second group got started on a task for which they needed no instruction – digging trenches!

 

The Corps Tries the Press

Block-making can be harder than it looks, and requires the expert guidance of trainers like Matthias!

 

The press may look simple, and its manual nature is appropriate for poorer communities, requiring no fuel and little maintenance. It does, however, involve a set of specific techniques that are taught during the HYT training programme. We were therefore very impressed by those who were able to operate the machine after a few tries, as well as those whose valiant efforts never quite came to fruition!

 

Digging with the Corps

The British Army may be no stranger to digging trenches, but equatorial sunshine is not so familiar…

 

While the block-makers were busy forging ISSBs, the members of the excavation team made short work of preparing the foundation. Though, by all accounts, Uganda’s tropical heat is a totally different beast from UK weather when digging trenches, Ugandans and British worked tirelessly throughout the afternoon. Reward came in the form of a local lunch, as plates were piled high with beans, rice, greens and goat!

 

Lunch Time for the Corps

Puni was one of the more adventurous soldiers when it came to Ugandan cuisine.

 

Lunch was followed by volleyball, a regular team-building exercise on site. Before long, a crowd of children had amassed to watch the spectacle, as both teams put up a strong fight. Three close matches and a rainstorm later, it was time to head back to Jinja for the night.

 

Corps vs Trainees

It didn’t take long for things to get competitive, with impressive play from both sides.

 

HYT is extremely grateful to the regiment for taking time out from their training to lend their skills and strength. As well as building in the villages of Kayembe and Butaaya, the soldiers kindly donated books and stationary to the schools. These will help to stock the new libraries that are included in the HYT classroom blocks. By helping to develop the communities of Uganda’s Kamuli region using the Trust’s eco-friendly technology, the Royal Logistic Corps have added a new meaning to their motto, “We Sustain”.

 

4th Regiment Royal Logistics Corps

Our thanks go out to the Royal Logistic Corps, and to Kayak the Nile, for their involvement in the project.

 

Ashden Sustainable Solutions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HYT is proud to be shortlisted for an Ashden International Award 2017.


Why Uganda? A Volunteer’s Perspective

Posted on April 13th, 2017


‘Why Uganda?’ A very good question, asked by very many people, and answered (inadequately, I’m sure) only to a few. Hopefully, in the ensuing paragraphs about my time as a volunteer, I will be able to share my answer with you, and in doing so encourage you to take the leap that I took – one that I have never looked back from.

 

HYTeam photo

A very warm welcome to Uganda (around 30 degrees, in fact).

 

As you may have realised, I am not Charlie. Unfortunately, I do not have a degree in English, and so I do apologise in advance if this piece lacks the linguistic flair that has become custom of the recent updates from HYT.

 

In my final year at Haileybury, I had the privilege of being tutored by Russell Matcham, who first floated the idea of visiting HYT’s work in Uganda. Compounded by the reports from my peers who had visited Uganda that year, and by the stories of my HM, Nick Davies’ time there, I applied to volunteer.

 

Travelling to Uganda is not cheap, and with this in mind I applied to four different jobs, expecting to be turned down by all. By some stroke of luck, I was offered all four, and decided to take them on. Five months of 12-hour shifts, 6am finishes and 7-day weeks later, I was exhausted, but excited.

 

First volunteer village trip

I asked Mauricia if I could borrow her headscarf. She said no.

 

A few days into my time in Uganda, we visited a village near Kamuli town and were greeted by the whole community in their smart Sunday dress sitting in anticipation under the mango tree. We were welcomed like celebrities, with the local children clamouring to touch our unusually pale skin. The meeting concluded with Mauricia (HYT Country Manager) telling the community that we had decided to build in their village. With grown men and women crying with joy, and the kids screaming our names and chasing after the truck, it really was a special feeling.

 

Village children selfie

Smiley selfies with the Kayembe Primary School children.

 

On the journey back, I looked around in the car, and realised that I really didn’t deserve that welcome. What had I done to help these people, other than taking the credit for a decision I didn’t help make? The other members of the team had all contributed, in a tangible way, to improving the lives of these people. It was in that moment that I promised, to myself more than anyone, that my time as a volunteer will be spent trying, in every way possible, to feel like I have made a difference.

 

A couple of weeks later, I headed back into the village with the Training Manager, Freddo, for a few days. Having failed to make an Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block (ISSB) on my previous visit, I was determined to try until I succeeded – taken from the famous Haileybury Habits of course.

 

Volunteer HYT press

First (failed) attempt at using an ISSB press.

 

After a fair few laughs from onlookers, and many hours in the scorching sun, I had succeeded not only in making a few ISSBs, but also in laying the foundation for the new staff quarter and turning my skin a lobster-shade of red.

 

Volunteer village work

Still smiling, despite the sunburn and sweat.

 

That evening, Freddo cooked his famous rolex (think: omelette-chapatti) for the two of us, which rivals even the most highly-acclaimed dishes from famous Michelin-star chefs. We were tempted to add the neighbour’s chicken into the recipe, although then we wouldn’t have our 4.30am alarm, or a place to sleep.

 

Aside from the tasks of an HYT volunteer, I have also been involved with the local Jinja ‘Hippos’ and Jinja Secondary School rugby teams. With a senior Hippos side that is to be promoted to the Ugandan Premier League, and many younger teams at the school looking to improve, I asked if I could help out and coach a few squads. I attempted to play in the senior squad for a few matches, but through a combination of a torn MCL and cartilage, and a lack of pace on my part, I decided to stick to the coaching side of things. Fortunately, coaches are included in the post-game celebrations.

 

‘Why Uganda?’ From the wonderful work HYT do, to the beautiful landscapes, the mountain gorillas, the climate, the locals, the boundless opportunities, white water rafting, trekking, rugby coaching, Freddo’s rolex, and the chance of a conservation lecture from Charlie or to hear PY’s infectious laugh, there’s really no reason not to visit.

 

Porridge break

‘Sawa ya buji’ – time for porridge.

 

So, instead of asking ‘Why Uganda’, I encourage you to rethink, and ask ‘Why not Uganda?’

 

 

Ashden Sustainable Solutions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HYT is proud to be a finalist in the 2017 Ashden International Awards