The universal language of music shone through when students from Mid North Christian College toiled in Uganda.
The students were building a wall around Gershibon Christian school and marvelled at how their counterparts knew the music that the visitors had left behind in Australia.
Year 11 student Erin Paterson said the youngsters “knew a lot of our pop songs”.
“They taught us a lot of their songs and dances as well,” she said.
“We were standing in a big circle. It was lots of fun. They asked us about our culture. They were very interested.”
The children from both countries joined in prayer.
Erin said the hosts had taught the visitors how to make the traditional dish, motoki.
“It is a savoury dish, but made of bananas,” she said.
Rachel Stubbs said they were shown also how to make the dough for chapati which is like a nan-bread.
For some, the chapati at lunch is their only meal for the day. The impoverished country opened its doors to the students who saw the slums, a hospital - where patients sleep on mattresses on the floor - and an orphanage.
The visitors were shocked at how leprosy had ravaged the people.
Jordan Roullier said food was not guaranteed for patients in the hospital.
“In order for them to get food, they had to have a family member of friend come and cook for them otherwise they would not have any food,” he said.
Erin said each patient had to have a carer who arranged the price for them to enter the hospital. Jordan was stunned to see that some patients were being treated for bites by lions and hippopotamuses.
“One had been stabbed by an elephant tusk,” he said. “They all survived.” Teacher Samarn Meach said it had been confronting for the students to see Kagando Hospital.
The group also went on safari and stayed at a resort where Jordan said armed escorts kept away wild animals.
Samarn said one of the group members had encountered a hippopotamus as they went out to the bus.
“We saw hyenas while having breakfast at the resort,” she said.
She said the students had received a gift of Uganda soccer shirts “even though our hosts don’t have a lot”.
“Uganda was playing Ghana at the time,” she said.
Samarn said the children struggled in the host country, particularly those in orphanages.
“We saw the dormitory in the orphanage and there were two to three to a mattress on bunk beds and some laying on the floor between them,” she said. Fundraising is taking place to prevent the government from closing the orphanage. A few tears were shed during the trip.