Construction of the Memorial Garden (1998)

Contents The Gallery Construction & Demolition The Memorial Garden

A group of College students and Headmaster John Haden visited the Mvara Secondary School in the West Nile area of Uganda in the summer of 1997 and helped to build rainwater tanks that would supplement a borehole supply.  When 15 Mvara students and staff came to the College in 1998 they expressed a wish to do something in return and this resulted in construction of a garden and sanctuary in memory of the 8th USAAF.

The chosen area for the garden was the site of the 231st Station Hospital morgue, later technical drawing office, then a computer laboratory and finally a store.

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Clive Richardson (Bursar) and Chris Sayer.
Chris Sayer, Mvara staff member, Mrs Haden and Mr Haden.
David Spinks helping out with the pointing.
Project complete, except for the planting.
The plaque.

Chris Sayer writes:

The building of the wall was a wonder to see. Nobody knew what they were doing and it wobbles and waves in every direction. The Ugandan boys refused point blank to carry water to mix mortar as this was women's work and demeaning. All the Ugandans spent a long time huddling in bed complaining of the cold even though it was mild spring weather.

We discovered that none of them had seen the sea. One of the other Housemasters took some to Yarmouth for their first look at the sea. Mike Brand and I took most of them to Holkham one evening with some of my sixth formers. They saw the sun set over a perfect beach and sea, paddled and yelled at the cold water, looked at the whale skeleton and ended up with chips on the harbour wall in Wells. Driving the bus back I remember looking in the rear view mirror and seeing on the seat behind me four sixth form girls sound asleep and tangled together - one Ugandan, one British, one German and one French. Would that the world could be like that. On their last day one of the boys ran up to me and said Holkham beach had been the best day of his life and he would never forget it.

Two of the staff, Charles Dadria and Joy Unyuth, came round my house over half term for a very enjoyable evening.  Charles taught my daughter to play an instrument that he had made called an Ndunga and the two played duets.  As he left he gave Ellie the instrument that she still treasures. I also took Charles to the Mildenhall airshow - an hilarious experience.  The only aircraft he had seen were the one he flew across in and the Sudanese MiGs that crossed the border to strafe the school from time to time.  Their reaction to amazement and surprise was to laugh uproariously. The day was spent with Charles howling with laughter very infectiously and sometimes falling over with surprise.  The Red Arrows singletons crossing in front of him had him flat on the ground shrieking with laughter and kicking his legs in the air. A large space opened around us as the rest of the spectators didn't know what to make of him. The Galaxy with twenty odd wheels amazed him and he ran round and round it counting and recounting them. I had to photograph him standing in front of everything. In the end he went back to Uganda with about 200+ photos of Mildenhall and a Red Arrows teeshirt for his young son. I would love to have been a fly on the wall back in Mvara when he told about the airshow - I bet nobody believed him.

We included the Ugandans in our House teams for sports day, hoping for new school records in distance running in true African style. Unfortunately, however whatever they were chosen for to come on the trip it wasn't for their athletic skills and they mostly came last in spite of claims of great ability.