I hope this email finds you well. I returned home to UK a couple of weeks ago and before I left Uganda Lodge, our Director Denis Aheirwe asked me to message all our donors, sponsors and supporters to update you, thank you for your donations and continued support over the year and wish you a ‘Merry Christmas’. Some of you may of enquired about volunteering & others made a donation to a friends fundraising page We would both love to hear from you via email or on WhatsApp as below. You can see many recent photos on www.facebook.com/ugandalodge & www.facebook.com/ruhangadevelopmentschool and several different facebook groups. Also we are working on adding more photos to Instagram @sponsorachildinafrica - @volunteerinuganda - @uganda_lodge
Our www.sponsorachild.co.uk website has been revamped – thanks to Jutta – and to save on admin work it is just showing children who do not have anyone supporting them, so these are the ones looking for new sponsors. All sponsorship money goes directly into the school funds and is used equally for teachers salaries, meals and a thousand other expenses associated with running a school for 500 children. To keep the school open to all children from even the poorest of families we do need many more supporters paying just £5 per month for a child as many come totally for free, even boarders. Please can you help by setting up a standing order or send in £60 for the year if you are not already doing so and also ask a friend to do the same?
2019 has been a great year for the 500+ children at our school and we are expecting all 44 children who sat their Primary Leaving Exams in November to get a grade A or B pass. We took the Primary 7 students on a 2-day educational trip and they also had a party to celebrate the end of Primary School. Unfortunately, as in previous years, quite a percentage of these rural village youngsters will not continue at Senior School beyond the first few weeks as many families cannot afford the necessary school fees even at the government senior schools. Thus we urgently need to provide more short-term courses at our Vocation Centre where fees are very low and students will have a trade plus some business skills after just a few months studying with us.
The Daviott & Old Meldrum Explorer Scouts, who funded the building of the huge 90ft x 45ft hall at our school last year, are returning again in 2020 and are already fundraising to build dormitories and teachers accommodation at the Vocation Centre. Some more work has been done on the training kitchen/restaurant but we need at least another £10,000 to get this completed. I have put up a fundraising page myself on https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/vocationtraining and we would much appreciate contributions. Denis would like to be able to begin work here again soon as it should be dry for a few months now and he is also asking if anyone might be willing to give an interest-free loan so they can continue to build, while money is being raised. If you or any friends can help us to raise this quickly, please do contact me.
Once this restaurant is open it will not only enable many students to attend courses in a wide range of catering skills, but as its situated on the main trans-africa highway many paying customers will help us fund the running expenses of both the Vocation Centre and also the Medical Centre. You may remember we lost a large annual donation (that covered all the Medical Centre's monthly running expenses) from ASE Consulting due to a company take-over but thanks to funding direct from Duncan McNeil plus a few other volunteers we have managed to keep it open and continue to offer affordable medical care to many villagers and free treatment all our own school children.
You can see some of the work of the medical centre staff and volunteers here https://www.facebook.com/mcneil.medicalcentre We have hosted a number of International students doing their Medical Electives throughout the year, and we offer a very affordable option for this experience with all profits going towards helping support our school and other projects. Ten Ugandan students also stayed with us for six weeks and did research on various health-related issues in the nearby villages. Volunteers identified a number of mentally disabled youngsters living locally and the Medical Staff are setting up a monthly support group for them and their families.
Throughout the year other volunteers have bought many items for the medical centre, paint, text books, toys, pads for girls, stationery, protein mix and milk to add to daily porridge, desk sharpeners, material, fruit, paid for teacher training, locking cupboards for books in each classroom and donated many items to sell cheaply at our mini-markets.
If you have volunteered with us you may of been on safari with Denis and have seen the work he is also doing in two fishing villages in QE National Park. The facilities he is setting up in Kasenyi and Kisenyi are now attracting other tourists and in turn this brings in more income that is benefiting these marginalised communities. When the cottages become self-funding, the extra income will help to cover costs of our school etc in Ruhanga. If you know anyone who may be interested in partnering with him to build a student hostel or similar, this is another badly needed facility for hundreds of Ugandan students each year and it could make an income for Ruhanga (and a partner) in the future.
Our previous volunteer coordinator Faridah came back for a few weeks in the summer with little Andy to help with our visitors but we now have a new Ugandan Volunteer Co-Ordinator (Carole) that some of you who came this year will of met. Our volunteers throughout the year have helped in many ways both at the school with lessons, marking exams and homework, sports, arts and crafts, reading, making posters and general classroom repairs. Those with some medical experience have also screened many of the local children and organised outreach work in the surrounding rural villages. Thank you to all.
We do not have many volunteer bookings yet for 2020 and Denis would love to host many new visitors over the coming months. Staying at Uganda Lodge is definitely a 'Holiday with a Difference' and is suitable for all ages from Gap Year students (Mums - Uganda Lodge is very safe and ideal to start off travel experiences) to retired seniors who know that 70+ does not mean you are 'past it'! Families with children are also welcome and they can join in activities with the local kids and not find lots of extra ways to spend money! Denis suggests that you might look at bringing a group of friends but if you do come alone, as many do, you will soon make new friends! Our own driver Godfrey will meet you at Entebbe Airport and put you on the correct bus to reach Ruhanga (or you can book a private car all the way) Many of our visitors join Denis on safari and staying at Uganda Lodge is an ideal once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go gorilla trekking. If anyone would like to join me I am returning mid Feb until Easter and again in mid June.
The yearly Uganda Marathon is being held at the end of May and if you are willing to fund-raise for our projects, Denis will organise a trip down to Masaka for our volunteers to take part. Where else in the world can you run 42kms and have a couple of barefooted 10 year olds join you for the whole race? (or just do 21kms or 10 kms - this is simply a fun race!)
The 2020 All-Africa Scouts Jamboree is being held in Kampala early August and I can organise for independent travellers who are Scouts to join our own district and attend. Although in this coming year our main priority is to get dormitories and the restaurant at the Vocation Training Centre completed, we also hope to collect enough funds to allow our Scouts to attend this International camp.
I am still struggling to keep up with all the admin needed to keep accountability of donations, sponsors, fundraising, websites, and finding potential volunteers and new donors. I would appreciate hearing from anyone with a few hours a week to spare who may be willing to offer help with our UK charity (and even possibly become a trustee) Wherever you are please email, call or WhatsApp me to talk more on this as, unlike Denis hopes, I cannot expect to continue all this work for another 10-12 years (when I will be rapidly approaching 90!!!)
Please pass on my details to all your friends who may be interested in Sponsoring, Volunteering or just having a ‘Holiday with a Difference’. Despite rising prices its still possible to spend two or three weeks out in Uganda and even with a safari and airfares from UK it need not cost a lot over £1,000. Note from 1st Jan it is £140 a week full board to stay at Uganda Lodge and no extra for a single room. Safaris and gorilla treks will also have a price rise on 1st July as all park fees are going up on that date.
Denis and I wish you all a Happy Christmas
Ann McCarthy WhatsApp & Mob +44 7867998414
Denis Aheirwe WhatsApp & Mob +256 701536197 or +256 774768090