Abaana 2019 Blog

Uganda – Day 1

The day had finally came for us to make our journey across the globe to Uganda. Before we could reach our destination we will have to endure over 20 hours of traveling. So with our huge bags loaded onto the bus and our families waving goodbye we departed from the front of the Rainey at 1pm to catch our flight from Dublin to Addis Ababa. We arrived at the airport just 30 minutes before we had to be ready to board the plane which resulted in scrambling around the airport lounge grabbing as much food and snacks as we could fit into our hand luggage before we set out at 6:10pm for a grueling 13 hour long flight to the capital of Ethiopia.

Ben Aspell
Erin Anderson




Our second day began with most of us asleep on a flight en route to Addis Abbaba. Shortly after midnight, we got our second meal. When we arrived at Addis Abbaba airport, we were met with hectic crowds. After a rush to our next flight, we were finally on the final leg of our journey. Upon landing at Entebbe, we were welcomed by Susan and Sarah who brought us to the abaana guesthouse. When leaving the airport ourselves and the rest of the group were given our first insight into life in uganda. We were able to look out the windows of the bus and see how people in uganda go about their normal routines with people walking alongside the main roads outside entebbe along with a free for all driving experience.

After arriving at the abaana guesthouse we were given a very friendly greeting from the staff working there as well as a cake, which went down well with everyone. Before cutting the cake we were introduced to the ugandan tradition of having everyone cut the cake at the one time. These people who held the knife when cutting the cake were also introduced to the tradition that the people who cut the cake must also hand out the cake.

After getting lunch we then prepared to go out shopping for snacks in preparation for the long bus journey ahead of ourselves the next day at the shopping centre near the guesthouse with everyone spending thousands of ugandan shillings, the equivalent of a few pounds back home.

When arriving back to the guesthouse we were then given a lesson in the iteso language by one of the abaana staff, teaching us the basics of one of the many languages spoken in uganda and the traditional handshakes along with it.

After having dinner we then set out on getting ready to go the next morning by packing and having all of the donated abaana items in seperate suitcases which took a large amount of time and commitment from certain members of the group.

Ben Barfoot and Rory Bradley





A VIP reception awaited us as we pulled up in our buses at the Rainey Primary School; only instead of a red carpet we had a dusty brown field and instead of a face full of flashing cameras we had a sea of smiling faces of the local children and residents waving and chanting. We sat down for the presentation under the shade of a mango tree and enjoyed a spectacular African welcome from the children who performed songs and danced for us. We had speeches from the important members of the community who made us feel right at home and made us realise how important our trip here actually is. We got to enjoy some African music and everyone including us got up to dance spontaneously. After such amazing performances from the residents we then had to perform Rainey’s Call and I’ll Tell Me Ma, which had some fabulous line dancing from some of our pupils which sparked a dance off between them and the parents of the pupils. After our welcome was complete we got a run down on how to lay bricks with a musical ensemble motivated us and where Davy showed his authority over all of us with his superior building skills that put us all to shame. After we had the chance to play with the children and bond as they taught us some of their language and tried to understand our rather broad Northern Irish accents. By the end we didn’t want to leave but had to return to the hotel for a well needed shower and some dinner. Today was such an eye opening day which really made us appreciate what we have.

Happy Sunday, this just in from our team in Uganda…

Day 4
Today we started off early at 8 o’clock having different Ugandan cuisine with breakfast. starting out the day with an omelette fruit and vegetables. By 8:30 we were all at the bus heading for Rainey Primary to start our first day of teaching and building. The children were split into four groups of 80, each group were given different activities to do with biology and the different body parts. This included making stick fish and many games of head, shoulders, knees and toes. The group were put through their paces with games of duck duck goose and the children were even taught the hookey pokey and the macarena. The building was tough in the heat with the group mixing the cement and laying down the foundations for our new partnered school in Africa.

Megan Clarke and Bryn Davis


Day 5

We started off the day again with a lovely breakfast of homemade pancakes and boiled eggs. Yet again the builders working on the new rainey primary school site continued to keep up their astounding pace, despite the flustering heat that glared down on them the whole day. They successfully managed to get the height of the walls up to and past mid-window height. Despite minor sun burns and very tired bodies from the previous day of building, Rainey’s team of builders met everyone’s expectations and more for the short time period that we have been here.
Yet again, our team of teachers were kept busy in the existing “Rainey Primary School” with a large range of school pupils ranging from P1s to P6s. Today’s main subject in aim was geography. The tasks ranged from teaching the kids about the names of jobs, teaching them animal sounds which was then incorporated into the song “Old MacDonald had a farm.” The kids then thoroughly enjoyed making and decorating animal masks which they clung to for the rest of the day. A small amount of Irish dancing was even thrown into the mix.
Tomorrow our teachers and builders will be swapping roles for a change of scenery which I’m sure the builders will appreciate after 2 hard days grafting.

Callum Donnelly and Jonny Drennan


Day 6

Today was different as we visited a few of the pupils homes and families which allowed students and teachers to visit the families of kids of which they sponsor. Allowing us to ask many questions about their lifestyle and living conditions. This gave us a detailed insight into their daily lives and allowed us to experience their different ways of living. We gained knowledge in their diets and cooking methods, this left us feeling humbled and grateful for what we take for granted everyday. Facilities such as water, showers and toilets were very basic and a lot less hygienic than many of us are used too.

After we returned we enjoyed another delicious lunch provided to us by the Kumi Hotel. We then embarked on a much anticipated game of football for the boys and volleyball for the girls. The highly contested football match was unfortunately lost 2-1 in the Ugandans favour who decided to take a break from their African cup of nations matches to come and play us. The volleyball was also highly contested and very enjoyable with the Rainey team just narrowly loosing.

Overall another very entertaining day with everyone left encouraged by everything they’ve learnt and seen today, excited for the next day ahead.

Harry Evans and Daniel Fulton



Day 7

We started the day by going to ‘The Redeemed of the Lord Evangelistic Church, Malukhu’. This morning service was a stark contrast to those back home who were as we were met with dancing and singing praises to God. The worship and congregation members were very welcoming and radiated the joy of the Lord in their exciting and lively service. Then we travelled to the Western Style Mbale Resort Hotel where we had a piece of home with chips and grilled sandwiches for lunch. Followed by fun in the swimming pool by the team members. We all enjoyed a more relaxed day after a busy week of building and teaching, and now are refreshed for a week ahead.

Laura Gregg and Nikki Hessin



Day 8
Today we arrived at Rainey Primary School Morukakise for the last time. During the day we took polaroids of all 316 children, and for many it was the first time seeing a photograph of themselves. We also taught the children the Parable of the Lost Sheep with the aid of some paper plates and cotton wool to make sheep, and how to tell the time with intense games of “What time is it Mr Wolf?” which the children had never played before. Our second group were building and finished the internal walls of each classroom of the building which will be named after our team as the ‘Rainey Foundation Team’. In the afternoon we attended a leaving ceremony with the children singing us a farewell song written just for us. Emotions were running very high for both the team, the children, the parents and the staff, with many in tears. We receieved a gift from the school of 5 hens (which Mr McClements joyjully held). We then began to hand out shoes which were kindly donated by the #Magherafelt community. Each child was given a pair of shoes for themselves and a pair for one of their family members. Many of the team members also donated the shoes off their feet today to those children who had not recieved a pair of shoes. We left the children with very heavy hearts and wished we could have stayed forever.




Day 9
Today was our last day in the Kumi Hotel – our last day of potatoes for breakfast (hopefully) and our last day with our guides Patricia and Ronald, who headed back to see their families today before returning to the Abaana guesthouse to greet a new team next week. While it was upsetting to see them for the last time, we are glad they get to go visit their families as they haven’t seen them since the New Life Choir tour began in January. We then spent a delightful seven and a half hours on the bus travelling to the Murchison National Park, the largest national park in Uganda. After a brief break in our stylish huts, we then got back on the bus for another four hours, although it didn’t feel like it as this was a safari through the park where we saw lions napping in a tree, a giraffe cross the road, and a mother warthog scolding her piglet for running headfirst into her. There were also various species of antelope, herds upon herds of elephants, giraffes, and wildebeests, and the top it all off a break beside the Hippo Pool at sunset. It was a phenomenal experience which has left us ready for bed for an early start tomorrow for a sunrise game drive.
Ella McCaffrey



Day 10
This morning was an early start for the Rainey team with breakfast at 6:30am. We then ventured into the Murchison Falls National Park for an early morning game drive where we spotted elephants, giraffes, buffalos, warthogs, antelope and monkeys. We also saw Pumba and Simba and yes they are friends in real life!! While the team were on the look out for lions hunting their prey, Mr McCullough took this opportunity to catch up on some much needed sleep. We continued our safari experience on a boat trip down the Nile, where we got to spot some hippos, crocodiles and the Murchison falls. We then finished off the busy day relaxing at the lodge with a campfire after dinner accompanied by some traditional African music.

Courtney Overend and Zac McMenemy


Day 11
Today was our last day at the safari lodges which brought relief to many of the Rainey pupils after showering with lizards, sleeping next to the hippos and having dinner with the flies. We woke up at 7:30. Apparently this is a lie in in Africa. After breakfast at 8 we set off for the guesthouse in Kampala. This was a 7 hour journey that was made feel much shorter through card games, sleeping, movies and food. Half way through the journey we stopped for lunch where we were able to use the local shop and the public toilets.. this was a hole in the ground. When we finally reached the guesthouse we had lunch and for Callum Donelly’s birthday, the guesthouse provides yet another delicious cake. We then had the rest of the day to chill which involved card games and a very intense game of charades that lasted all night.



This morning was quite relaxed as the team enjoyed a well deserved lie in. That’s if you would call 8 o’clock a lie in. We then enjoyed our lovely breakfast in the Abanna guesthouse. We then left for Strathearn Primary School to have a look at what the Rainey Primary School that we were working on could look like in the future. When we arrived we had a tour, meeting the children and introducing ourselves to them. Where again Mr McClements was known as Mr Neil. The classes then all came together in the one place where we, the Rainey 2019 Team, again performed Rainey’s Call and I’ll Tell Me Ma. The children and the staff seemed to enjoy our performance. Then the children of the Primary School performed a few songs for us and we the team thought they were fantastic. After their performance we headed back to the ABAANA Guesthouse where we had our marvellous lunch. We then had a bit of chill out time up until 3:30, where we then headed to the New Life Homes. We then arrived in the New Life Homes where we were introduced to all the children and we got a tour around where they stayed. We then had a fantastic performance where we were treated to a sing song and they showed us a few of their dance moves, which we were extremely impressed with. We then mingled with the children and created our own dance routines with them in which each team (which we named families) performed these in front of everyone else. After having done this we played a very competitive game of football which ended up resulting in a 1-1 draw between the two teams. Some of the children showcased their amazing talents to us on the football field as well. It was then time to hand out t-shirts and we heading back to the ABAANA Guesthouse and enjoyed another lovely meal that the staff of the Guesthouse provided for us. We then concluded the night by reflecting on our time here in Uganda, in which we had a humbling, enlightening and brilliant experience.

Karl Warner