A life changing experience

fergus

Posted on: 7th July, 2014

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

As part of his prize for winning the SelfHelp Africa Science for Development Award at the National BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2013, Fergus Jayes, (17), a sixth year in Clonakilty Community College, travelled to Uganda in conjunction with a school study with SelfHelp Africa in February 2014.

Fergus’ goal was to field test a solar powered fridge, which he invented with two other students, and outline its efficiency in a real life scenario, possibly seriously enhancing the consumption of safe stored food and storage of medicinal supplies. Fergus speaks about his experience in Africa and how the trip affected his outlook on life.

IMAGE ABOVE: Fergus Jayes (wearing sunglasses) pictured in Uganda.

The first thing you experience once the plane doors open might not be the most expected occurrence; the overwhelming stench of years and years of burned fabric, dead wood and all manners of items. You can only wonder what you’ve got yourself into, as the first step into the unknown is always the hardest. Africa’s beauty is matched only by it’s danger, was our coordinators message.

As we hurtled towards our first hotel in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, we must have locked eyes with over a thousand school children stumbling on the side of the road. I wish we could describe the looks we shared. Their eyes shimmered with desire. They desired to see from our eyes, learn about our world, experience just a taste of it. I had won this trip for my invention of a solar powered fridge along with two others who were unfortunately unable to attend. We amassed our idea through our one goal: If we can’t give them our world, then we must strive to make theirs more similar. I was truly hell bent on succeeding by field testing our fridge, and making a difference like SelfHelp Africa has done on so many occasions in previous years.

At the SelfHelp Africa office in Kampala, I was delighted to learn the fridge worked perfectly when I tested it. I had proven the simplest ideas could make the biggest differences.

It was shortly after we left the city, that we encountered the first sign of poverty. As traffic had begun to halt, I looked over to a ravaged sidewalk. Lying there was a girl possibly my own age, yet the way her limbs moved so feebly suggested a life span beyond what I imagined. In her arms were folds of mud-stricken blankets from which the cries of an infant could be heard. She shifted unsteadily, and then ambled towards our jeep. Hand outstretched, mumbling incoherent words, she pleaded with us indignantly. She looked me in the eye for a brief second, and I recoiled as if stung. The driver who was clearly acquainted with this scenario, calmly put up the window and drove off. The jeep was eerily quiet, I hadn’t moved a muscle. No amount of preparation can prepare you for what you see in Africa. I will never forget the pleading look she gave me, where every day you never know when death can wait around the corner. It is not a life I would wish on my worst enemy.

Outside Kampala, we began to enter more rugged terrain, as we glided through fields of golden corn, which lit up amongst the smoke rising in the distance. A village came into sight, several hastily constructed mud shacks. As we emerged from our jeeps, the children gazed at us like we were aliens. The girls in our group fawned over the babies, and quickly became impossible to separate. I was too busy overcome with the sheer complexity of the landscape that had unfolded before me. Halfway across the world yet it seemed as if it was an alternate world altogether. As if the world had taken everything I had previously known, and perspectively outlined the creases that were invisible to the naked eye. The villages we saw were in a dire state. Children ran half naked ignoring the half-hearted attempts to calm down by their skeletal parents.

Over the following days, we visited pre-orated cave paintings, which told stories from centuries past. We trekked long and hard through the intense and unyielding sun, which delivered rays of up to 40 degrees Celsius and beyond. At the end, three others and myself decided to partake in a mini soccer match with a group of local boys. Despite us being twice their size and age, we were left in awe of their skill. All they had was a circular tuft of cotten hastily wrapped in rope.

We finally visited a local school in Kumi, which allowed us a break from the constant supply of lizards invading our bedrooms. I have never met a more polite and disciplined group of children. English being one of their primary languages, we were able to engage in lengthy conversations with them. They were delighted to learn we had brought many gifts for them. I gifted my favourite Cork jersey to one, who was perplexed by it’s meaning. We also engaged them in a hurling game, which they were naturals at. During their goodbyes, many stood up without hesitation and publicly thanked us for our generosity, bringing a tear to many of our eyes. I decided then to leave my working model of the solar fridge for them, to keep and use. I have never regretted that decision.

The people of Uganda are the most sincere and welcoming people I have ever met. I saw things I’ve never imagined of and it’s only strengthened my resolve to improve their lives. It was my privilege and honour to meet such a fantastic people and I would recommend any individual to try this life-changing experience.

Latest News Articles:

Issue of childcare a major concern for 72 per cent of female entrepreneurs
Rain, slurry deadlines and housing
Celtic Ross Hotel awarded AA Rosette for Culinary Excellence
St. Joseph’s in Clonakilty looks back on 50 years of educating young girls
‘Operation Transformation’ for Young Beef Farmers
Macra President welcomes publication of EU Young Farmer Survey
Vital role of Focus in the West Cork community highlighted at Open Morning
Clonakilty Food Company opens new production facility in Clonakilty
Beara student one of three Cork students awarded €20,000 scholarship by Naughton Foundation
International success for Skibb rowers

Join us on Facebook

Bandon Walled Town Festival in looking for new ideas!
Would you like to get involved in the 2018 Festival?If you yourself would like to be involved in big or small way
email bandonwalledtown@gmail.com
... See MoreSee Less

11th October, 2017  ·  

Submarines, American Sailors, and the Underwater War in Irish Waters, 1917-1918
by Dr John Borgonovo in The Parish Centre, Clonakilty
on Thursday Oct 26 2017 at 8.30 pm

In 1917, unrestricted submarine warfare by German U-boats brought the United States into WWI and created a crisis in Britain. To defeat the submarine menace, an American naval fleet was dispatched to County Cork, bringing about 10,000 sailors with it. This talk will explain the circumstances of this extraordinary event, and how Cork residents dealt with their unexpected American guests.

Dr John Borgonovo is a lecturer in the School of History at UCC. His publications include Spies, Informers, and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin' Society: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921; The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918; Exercising a close vigilance over their daughters: Cork women, American sailors, and Catholic vigilantes, 1917-18; Something in the Nature of a Massacre: The Bandon Valley Killings Revisited (with Andy Bielenberg). His latest publication (with co-authors John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy) is the highly acclaimed and magnificient Atlas of the Irish Revolution. In July of this year, he organised a very successful conference on Winning the Western Approaches - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland 1917-1918.
... See MoreSee Less

11th October, 2017  ·  

Apple Juicing Day in Clonakilty next Sunday Sept 30th. All welcome to bring their apples from 2-6pm to the Clonakilty Community Garden (on entrance road to Clonakilty Lodge).

Building on the success of its inaugural 2016 event, local voluntary environmental organisation Sustainable Clonakilty invites people to bring along their apples and press them to extract their own juice to take home, using the group's Apple Press.

Volunteers will be at hand to assist in the procedure. Bring along your apples washed; clean containers to freeze your juice (milk/juice bottles or cartons, plastic bottles with caps); clean, sterilised glass bottles to pasteurise with swing caps or suitable for 26 mm diameter metal cap.

A limited number of new 3 litres juice bags that are suitable for freezing and pasteurising, can be purchased for a nominal fee on the day also.

This is a free community event and donations will be welcome to cover costs.

For further information, please contact Xavier at xavierdubuisson@gmail.com or text at 086/0476124.
... See MoreSee Less

26th September, 2017  ·  

Dúchas Clonakilty's first lecture for the Autumn promises to be of huge interest to all: Emerging from the Shadow of Tom Crean – The Parish Centre, Clonakilty, Thursday September 28th 8.30pm.

Lecture by Aileen Crean O’Brien & Bill Sheppard

In May 2016, Kerry man Tom Crean, along with Ernest Shackleton and four other crew members, landed the James Caird lifeboat on the rocky isle of South Georgia. The navigation of that small boat, across 1500 km through icy winds and towering seas, is regarded as the greatest ever feat of navigation. They then trekked across the forbidding and inhospitable mountains and glaciers of South Georgia to seek help for the rest of their crew, who were left behind on Elephant Island after their ship, the Endurance, was crushed by the Antarctic ice.

One hundred years later, Crean’s grandaughter, Aileen Crean O’Brien, set off with her sons and partner to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps. Join Aileen and Bill to hear of their adventures (and misadventures) on the Southern Ocean and the island of South Georgia.
... See MoreSee Less

7th September, 2017  ·  

Jump to:

Top