As we edged closer to Kigarama High School, the moan of the car engine was replaced by the beating of drums and the sound of children singing. Unlike any kind of singing I’ve heard before; a fusion of different chants, beats and rhythms. As we entered through the school gates, the sounds I could hear were matched up to hundreds of children in bright, zesty orange uniforms creating the music [VIDEO]. The students had decorated their uniforms in bright, vibrant prints. There were splashes of golden yellows against shades of blues and hot pinks. The amount of energy generated by the students was electrifying. The children wore beaming smiles as they danced in time to the chants and pulse of the drums. I would have never imagined that there could be so much noise coming from a school hidden amongst towers of plantain and banana plants in one of the most rural parts of Uganda.

After the singing and dancing from the children came to an end, a group of adults appeared in the centre of a circle of children. Soon enough, they began to sing a song they’d written themselves, thanking PEAS for giving their children a school, an education. At that moment it made me realise how much those parents and children value education. Learning is a gift; education is a gift. The parents’ song also made it clear how strong the connection is between the school and community. Without the community’s help, there would be no school and without the school, there would be no community.

Learning is a gift; education is a gift

I soon discovered that arts and culture played a huge part in the school life at Kigarama (it came as no surprise after the surreal greeting performance I’d just received). I spoke to one girl called Rosemary about how important the arts were for her and her school. She told me she dreamed of being a musician and even sang to me, a song called ‘Fool Again’ by Westlife. We discussed how she’s written her own songs about challenges her family, friends and she had faced, including some of the difficulties of being a girl in Uganda. Difficulties include those of child marriage, access to education, teen pregnancy and unemployment. I was very shocked and moved by the severity of the issues a girl as young as 14 was talking about. Rosemary told me the about the importance of the school choir, explaining how it made her feel part of something special and helped her to build confidence towards a better future.

After visiting Kigarama, we proceeded on another dusty road towards an even more rural village to a school called Bridge Secondary School. This time rather than arriving to beautiful singing, I could hear the roar of crowds of children. I was unsure what was happening until I was told it was Bridge’s school sports day. The children had been competing in events all morning and by the time I had arrived it was the finals! I saw a girls and boys 400m relay race. It was not very different to relay races I’ve been in at my school in London. The crowds were just as loud, runners just as determined, teachers just as competitive. However, neither the boys nor girls had any trainers. They were running bare foot on a hot, dusty field and some were running in their school uniforms. The girls had to hold up there school dresses as they ran around the track. It was totally different to what I was used too; no trainers, no sports bras, no sports kit.

After speaking to a group of students and watching more events, I started to realise how important sport is. Sport helps the students escape from the stress which school and growing up may bring, along with any other challenges that the students face. It allows them to divert all their energy into something else other than school work. It also enables students to excel at various things outside the classroom.

The crowds were just as loud, runners just as determined, teachers just as competitive

Along with a 400m track, Bridge has a football pitch, a volley ball net and netball pitch. Both boys and girls can play any sport they want; although football did seem to be the most popular amongst everyone. I was fascinated to be asked by some of the boys which Premier League football team I supported (and disgusted to hear that some of them supported Man United!). But it made me appreciate that these boys and girls are just normal teenagers, just like me and some of my friends, yet living hugely different life styles.

Kate attends Fortismere School in Haringey and visited schools in Uganda with the Costa Foundation