In December last year the Headboy/Headgirl Team from the John Henry Newman School set off to visit the KiSS sites in Uganda and spend an unforgettable two weeks. The team met the families KiSS works with, witnessed firsthand the amazing work our Hoima and Kasambya team do, and celebrated a rather warmer Christmas than they were used to. We caught up with the Headgirl, Caitlin Fletcher, and asked her to talk us through some of the moments from this once in a lifetime trip:
“When we arrived in Entebbe we were all so excited to be in Uganda and couldn’t wait to travel to Hoima the next day. The following morning we travelled to the KiSS Hoima site and the eight of us were welcomed with palm leaves, singing, dancing and fun! The huge number of smiling faces was completely overwhelming and unforgettable. It was so humbling to be amongst these kids who were so happy to see us.
Throughout the whole week in Hoima the KiSS site stayed as happy and as joyful. Everyday we would arrive and spend hours getting to know the children – from dancing the Macarena with them to playing football… we even taught the kids how to sing heads shoulders knees and toes! For all of us it really hit home how KiSS helps the children with struggles they face and gives them the opportunity to just be kids and have fun with each other.
During our time in both Hoima and Kasambya we had the opportunity to travel to the KiSS family’s houses with the amazing KiSS staff. For all of us the house visits gave us an insight into the poverty in Uganda but it also gave us an opportunity to be welcomed into the KiSS family’s homes and get to know the parents as well as the children. In a number of houses the parents would proudly show us their child’s school report or their school uniform – it was amazing to see that the money KiSS raises allows these kids to go to school and access the education they deserve. In these visits we also met some of the seriously ill and disabled children KiSS works with. It truly was inspirational to see how the support the community offers allows these children to love and enjoy life just like everyone else.
We arrived in Kasambya just in time to experience our very first Ugandan Christmas and were completely immersed into the amazing community the moment we arrived. The site was incredible – we were welcomed with a performance and a Christmas Eve sing song! Christmas Day in Kasambya was truly special – we attended mass in the morning and had the pleasure of having Christmas dinner with a child named Isaac and his family! We had an amazing Christmas dinner including roast potatoes, chicken, cabbage and even the Ugandan delicacy matoke!! Our time in Kasambya even included us teaching the children a Jackson 5 classic!
n order to burn off some of the Christmas calories, our second week ended with Rhys and Jacob playing a match with the KiSS football team… the score may not have been the best for us, but seeing all of the KiSS kids coming to support their peers highlighted the huge sense of belonging and community. On our last evening we went to ‘the rock’ in Kasambya – here we were all given the chance to contemplate, relax and think about the amazing Christmas we had experienced. As a team we all felt emotional and sad to be leaving but we knew that when we came back we would be able to help make a difference to the communities we had met.
Every evening, as a team, we would sit with the KiSS staff and Miss Hewitson and Mr Tucker and we would share our experiences with each other and think about all the people we had met that day. Every day we would hear new stories and meet inspirational people. We would also talk to each other about how we can share the message of KiSS with everyone back in the UK and we even started thinking about plans for KISS WEEK 2015 out there!
It was a life changing and overwhelming experience for all of us and it was amazing to see how much of a difference KiSS is making and will continue to make to these inspirational people. For all 8 of us from The John Henry Newman School it was a Christmas we will never forget.”