Shake, Shake the Mango Tree!

By Katie Brunwasser

Photo: Paula Longo

Jinja, Uganda – Arriving at St. Andrew’s Day and Boarding Primary School was a beautiful experience. As we pulled up the dirt road, the children in blue were clapping to the beat of three boys playing drums. A few girls and boys lined up in front of us performing a traditional dance and then lead us to the front of the school. I enjoyed the performance very much – the beat made me want to dance with them and show them my “mad sweet skills.”

A girl around 12 or 13 years old ran up to me and said, “you are most welcome! I am so honored that you are here! I am so happy that you are here, thank you so much for coming!” Never in my life has a child of that age been so excited to see me unless I had candy and they rang my doorbell screaming, “trick-or-treat!”

Photo:Paula Longo

We went off to observe classes, but once we got out, we were swarmed with children in every direction. Katie Frain had brought a parachute for the children to play with, which was a big hit! Children chanted and laughed and screamed at the wonderful red cloth.

I had my own little possie in Primary 6 (which is about equivalent to 6th grade in the U.S. system) following me around. They loved my hair and how it moved in every direction. I let one girl braid my hair which naturally sheds, and I made the joke, “don’t pull out my hair!” But, no one laughed. I didn’t realize until later that she might have pulled the loose hairs on my head and thought she ripped out my hair. I can only imagine her holding all this hair in her hand as I told her not to rip it out. She must’ve been terrified.

longo-st-andrew-br-stephenWhen we left, the girls begged me to always remember them and to never forget this day. It made me really sad to say goodbye to them. They looked forward to this moment, and when it ended it was upsetting. Every student who attended the school was outside our bus wishing us good-bye. It was difficult piling into the bus since children were latched onto us all. Some even chased after the bus when we drove away.

The children were so welcoming and lovely; it was really nice to experience such happy kids who were so excited about learning.

Photo: Paula Longo

One thought on “Shake, Shake the Mango Tree!

  1. Thank you for providing a description of the children’s music. I’ll want to hear and see a demonstration when you return to King’s. Be well; I’m so pleased you decided to participate in this experience.

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