Our New Nature Station

Dear All,

“At the northern end of the Meon Valley Trail lies the remains of the old West Meon station.  But it’s been a long time since railway trains steamed this way.  Now in 2017 a new future looks likely, for part of this site will soon be turned into a Nature Reserve for children”

Our school has worked very closely with the Western Area Volunteer Rangers and Hampshire County Council since September 2016 on this project.  It all started when we asked if the children would be allowed access to the derelict station site as this had green spaces that were unused and neglected.  We want to encourage the children to use the space outside as part of their on going “Outdoor Learning”.

The site has now been cleared and converted into a mosaic of habitats complimented by a winding path which has now become a nature trail.

Preparing the Nature Station

Russell Cleaver from Western Downs Volunteer Rangers said:

“It is rare and very satisfying for volunteers to be involved in a school’s project especially from its early creation right through to completion in a single year”.

During the Summer Term of 2017, we asked all the children as part of their homework, to create a project about how the West Meon Station evolved into a Nature  Trail.  They could either do this in the form of an essay, art work or a collage.  In addition, they had to think of a name for the Nature Trail.  The winner would have a plaque showing their name and the new name of the Trail.

In July we held an open day to show visitors our school. We spent part of the day up at the reserve with the Rangers from Queen Elizabeth Country Park learning how to be a ranger. We had a great time!

Steve training the mini rangers.

On 26th July, after our Leaver’s Service, all the children, staff and parents went to our new Nature Trail for a picnic.  The winner of the competition was announced as Finley , one of our Year 1 children.  He named the trail “Nature Station”.

Finley and the plaque

Finley and the volunteer rangers opening the Nature Station at the end of year picnic.

Since the Summer holidays we have used the Nature Station on a number of occasions. Here are a few pictures to show you what we have been doing…can you spot Bertie the Gnome, who lives in the reserve?

This is map drawn by Naia to show how to drive and walk to the Nature Station from school.

The map

We understand that you are busy completing your end of year exams; we would like to wish you a big GOOD LUCK!!

Have a wonderful break and a very Happy Christmas

from us all at West Meon Primary School

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UK Schools Cluster Meeting

This afternoon representatives from the UK schools met for blogging training. Mr Stanley took the teachers through how to use the blog properly and include media on blog posts. This included photos like the ones below.

UK teachers at blogging training

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Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE)

Dear our friends in the entire world.
We have been so privileged to work, share, learn from you. Most importantly your love for our education has been so great.
Special thanks to Headteacher, SMC chairman and all the staff at Liss Junior school for the great support for our education.
Great gratitude to our teachers at Kafuro Primary School for having loved us and taught us lots with great strength.
Special thanks to Life Abundant Africa for the care and provision to our candidates.
May God reward you all.
Our parents, thanks for the support and all sacrifice to have us pass through the period of seven years.
We mention that we have had good times especially with our teachers at this school.
We also wish our fellow candidates in both Uganda and Kenya the best of their end of primary exams.

We still need your prayers to see us pass through tomorrow and Friday as we pass with flying colours.
Written by Edger and Gloria
Candidates P7 2017.

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Uganda 2017 Day 12: Driving, driving, driving!

In order to allow ourselves a bit more free time later in the week, I had scheduled a number of appointments for today. Subject to confirmation from Yowasi, we were due to meet the District Education Offiver for Rubirizi, Stephen Birru, a man we have got to now well; the District Scout Commissioner; visit Kyambura Primary School; and, finally, drive out to Mahyoro to drop off letters from their twinned school – West Meon.

We had intended to leave at 9.00am, but confirmation of our itinerary didn’t come through until after 10.00am, so we were late in leaving. We were going to pick up Yowasi from New Life Junior School and then get Muhudi (our scouting expert) from his school near to the offices at Rubirizi.

The drive up to New Life was terrible. I was now totally fed up with the useless road surface and the prospect of driving up and down it several times today did not fill me with any joy. An indication of how bad the road surface was duly appeared at Kyambura when we came upon a jack-knifed lorry carrying salt and the drivers and his friends looking dazed at the side of the road. The lorry was still there nearly twelve hours later.

We arrived at New Life to meet Yowasi. When he saw us, he asked us why we hadn’t picked up Muhudi. We discovered that he was at home at Kyambura as he had managed to walk on a nail and had gashed his foot.

After doing some quick filming at New Life, we had to drive back to Kyambura (past the jack – knifed lorry)  to pick up Muhudi and then all the way back up to Rubirizi to meet Stephen Birru.

Stephen was in good form and very pleased to see us. He had given Mrs Green the connection with Kyambogo University and was very pleased to hear about her meeting.  He was also very interested in the work we had done at Kafuro and was very keen that the school use every means possible to become self-sustainable. He was strongly in favour of introducing a mobile phone chargng service to the school. He even recommended to Yowasi that he install satellite tv at the school and charge local residents to watch Premier League football. Somehow, I can’t see Mrs Myers doing this at Liss!

We had brought a mountain of neckties (neckers) and badges from scout groups all over the UK thanks to the very hard work of Mrs Prior at Liss. The District Scout Commissioner was overwhelmed and could not believe how much equipment she had received. Unfortunately, we had missed a big scout meeting the week before, but the commissioner was going to make sure the equipment was fairly distributed and send photos.

After this really successful meeting, we headed back towards Kyambura to visit the Primary School, which is twinned with Sheet Primary School. On the way, we had to make a couple of stops. The first stop was the Doreen Hotel, which is where Yowasi decided we should have lunch. Mrs Green and I had goar Muchomos. The bill for four of us was £5!

Our next stop was to visit Yowasi’s dad. I have met his mum several times before, but never his dad. Yowasi’s dad is in his 70s (ancient by Ugandan standards) and suffering the aftre effects of a stroke. However, he was very pleased to see us and spoke excellent English. He had heard all about us and wanted to find out about our families.

We got to Kyambura Primary School about 4.00pm where I met briefly with Hope, the headteacher and Moses, the Twinning Project Co-ordinator. This was a very frustrating meeting as both their laptop and their tablet have reached the end of their natural lives, but they didn’t bother to inform Yowasi so we could’ve brought out a replacement. I gave them some money for data and they are going to use Hope’s smartphone to communicate. I felt very sorry for Mrs Newton, the coordinator at Sheet, who has done a brilliant job in communicating regularly. Hope did promise me that she would have letters ready to take back to Sheet.

It was 4.50pm when we left Kyambura and we had an hour’s drive to Mahyoro. This is usually one of my favourite drives because the scenery is stunning, but a) we were running very late and b) it was very cloudy and the light was beginning to close in. We finally made it to Mahyoro at 5.50pm where we were met by the co-ordinator, Julius – the children had gone home an hour ago. I handed over the letters from West Meon while Mrs Green took photos and gave Julius money for internet data. He was very pleased to see us and gave his best wishes to the children and staff of West Meon Primary School.

It was an hour’s drive to Yowasi’s house to drop him off before we finally headed home past the jack-knifed lorry and along the worst road in Uganda. We were so late coming back we had to use the main gate into Mweya (rather than Katunguru) which added 15 minutes to our journey. Add to this rubbish headlamps on our car, clouds of dust, a pitch black night and full beam headlights in my face from other vehicles, and I’m sure that you can understand that I wasn’t very happy by the time we got home at 8.15pm – over two hours later than planned.

The day had a successful conclusion. Joshua, the chef at Tembo, had given us a chicken for visting his school and it was beautifully cooked alongside rice, salad and …wait for it…Irish potatoes. It was a nice end to an exhausting day.

Tomorrow we’re going to visit Katunguru Primary School in the morning and go chimp trekking at Kyambura Gorge in the afternoon.

 

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Queen Elizabeth Parks Project at West Meon School

Queen Elizabeth Parks Project Team Members returned to West Meon School recently to take part in the School’s Open Day.
Rangers Joe and Steve ran sessions on what it takes to be a Park Ranger and manage a Nature Reserve.
The pupils learnt about wildlife monitoring, looking after the habitat and visitor management as well as undertaking tasks such as building bird boxes, collecting insects and learning about wildlife.

The pupils asked some fantastic questions and were fully engaged in the day. Ranger Joe said ‘ The children worked really hard and had amazing knowledge, they seemed to enjoy meeting the Slow Worm and playing the environmental games’

The Queen Elizabeth Parks Project will be visiting Mahyoro School in July and will be sharing their experiences at West Meon with pupils and teachers.

        

 

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Uganda 2016 Day Nine – A successful meeting

Today was the first joint teachers and Community Conservation Rangers meeting at Hippo House. The main aim as far as I was concerned was to give the opportunity for teachers and rangers to find areas of commonality and plan assemblies, lessons or activities together so that they could work similarly to how Liss has worked with Steve Peach in the past and Joe Williams now.  It was my job to chair the meeting and facilitate the activities. Sixx CCRs plus the Community Warden, Olivia Birra, showed up along with seven teachers.

We were extremely fortunate that Charles Etoru, who co-founded the Twinning Project with Steve Peach, was in the area and had agreed to give a speech. He was inspirational and (better still) ended up staying the whole morning so he could work with the groups. We discussed friendship, communication, blogging, planning activities together and came up with a list of agreed actions which should allow everyone to move forward together. The Twinning Project also gave each school an amount of money to help them communicate through email and blogging with the incentive of more money being released if the Ugandan schools reached a target number of emails or blog posts by the end of October.

The meeting finished at 16.30 and we went to the safari hostel over the road for a couple of drinks to celebrate before going down to dinner at Tembo. Tomorrow we are visiting Kyambura Gorge and we have to be up at 05.30. As much as I’m looking forward to chimp tracking another early start is not high on my list of priorities.

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Joe the Ranger’s final post from Uganda

So here on the shore of lake Victoria ends my adventure. I have had a wonderful and met many truly incredible people. The past day and half have involved me being shown some sites by the Rangers, and seeing some different areas. I visited the Rwenzori NP, I saw some ranger outposts, and of course and abundance of wildlife. I have had a truly remarkable stay here in Uganda and have learnt many things. I have to thank UWA and the staff of Queen Elizabeth NP, Bwindi Impenetrable NP, and all the friends who have helped me on this trip and who have made is so enjoyable and unforgettable. I’m sad to be leaving but I look forward to returning next year, and coming in to talk to you all about my time here next term! I’m now in Entebbe airport waiting for my first flight, I should be back on the U.K by half twelve tomorrow afternoon.

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Footnote: Joe has arrived home safely!

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Ranger Joe visits Bwindi

I’ve had my first day in Bwindi impenetrable national park. It is a glorious area of outstanding natural beauty, with green mountains covered in thick jungle. Monkeys, birds, snakes, elephants, and the wonderful mountain gorilla call this park home. I’m sat in a small hut in the tree tops watching the birds and listening to local music; it’s great here! Today, I was taken by one of the Rangers to visit the waterfalls and look for wildlife, I had an amazing time and even got to swim under a waterfall!

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Ranger Joe’s weekend post from Uganda

I had an incredible day today with the law enforcement team! I saw a very different side to the work done by Rangers in this dangerous and exciting field. Protecting wildlife is what all Rangers work to do, but law enforcement do it in a very direct way- risking both injury and at times death to protect the incredible wildlife that resides in their park. Today we were out at first with the police tracking a suspected criminal who had tried to seek refuge in the park. And later we spent the rest of the day on the water, obtaining illegal fishing nets in an area where they are not allowed. At times we came ashore to check in the undergrowth for signs of illegal activity, this was very exciting as we were walking up and down hippo paths (and also a bit scary!) I’ve had a great day working with the Rangers who are among the bravest men and women I’ve ever met, their work is truly on nature’s front line.

Rangers collecting illegal fishing nets.

Rangers collecting illegal fishing nets.

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Joe the Ranger visits Kafuro, Kyambura and Katunguru

I’ve had a wonderful day today visiting schools around QENP. I started in Kafuro and met with the energetic Yowasi. We spoke about the progress of the school and the enjoyment both the teachers and pupils get from the wonderful twinning project! Later we visited Kyaambura which has to have one of the best views from a school I’ve ever seen! The pupils were lovely and I spoke to them about being a ranger in the UK- I had to explain we don’t have anything quite as big as elephants or quite as dangerous as lions! But what we have we love and as a UK Rangers we want to protect. Finally I visited Katunguru who are twinned with Hart Plain, I was lucky to have a guided tour of the school and spoke with many of the pupils who were really lovely! I then returned to QENP on the back of a motorbike which was really fun! We saw some elephants and lots birds on the way back in.

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