Happy Holidays to all our supporters - old and new.
Thankyou to all who have continued to support our charity throughout this awful pandemic. It has not been easy but we have managed to keep on paying salaries to around 40 regular staff including those working at our Eco-Lodges in the QE Park Fishing Villages. As money has come in we have kept up with maintenance at the school, Lodge and the Medical Centre, and are slowly moving forward towards completing our proposed kitchen/restaurant as part of our Vocation Centre.
we are almost 2 years 'into Covid'
Things are very quiet out here in rural Uganda, although there are still new cases of COVID each day in Kampala. The President is doing his best to keep it under control, and stopped all public transport, plus schools are all closed. All our staff have had 2 x Covid Vaccinations and visitors are allowed to move freely in designated vehicles.
Early June we were expecting 150+ lower Primary students to join the 150 older ones already in school, but with only one days notice ALL were sent home - every school, college and university is now closed for at least another month.
So - millions of Ugandan children will not of had any education for about 18 months - and one wonders how many rural families will have any money left at all to help with school fees when they can return. Of course they do not have the luxury of zoom and other online lessons. Many do not even have electricity, and smart phones are still a thing of the future for most of them!! But long dark nights keep our Medical Staff busy and they always hope there are not too many teenage girls!
We urgently need some more regular donations as keeping on essential staff for security and maintenance and keeping the Medical Centre open is a big problem. Just £5 or £10 a month is helpful as it all adds up. See https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charities/ruhanga
Maybe you are willing to do a sponsored something, or a Facebook Birthday Fundraiser? Thanks to all those who have already supported our work recently and are enabling patients to be treated at McNeil Medical Centre plus giving tradesmen and labourers an opportunity to earn extra cash from ongoing building work at our Vocation Centre from these donations .
Our biggest problem is that now its looking like there is another year with almost no volunteers. Aside from the profits our Director Denis makes on accommodation and safaris, most volunteers also do some fundraising before they come and we are able to do so much with that extra money out here.
Some while ago Denis took out a bank loan to help finance both additional building at our school and the accommodation that is attracting visitors to the two rural fishing villages we support https://ruhanga.com/queen-elizabeth-national-park/ With no visitors to Uganda Lodge, repaying this loan each month is very difficult. We have been told that if it could be cleared now the bank would accept a lot less than what is actually owed. With interest rates so low in the UK I just wondered if there were 2 people reading this who could each loan him £5,000 for up to 2 years and as soon as visitors return here again it would be repaid with a small interest. I am prepared to cover the rest myself We do have some ideas around this so please contact me direct if something might be possible. I came back to Uganda in late April for 6 weeks, when 'Volunteering' was on the list of allowed reasons for those living in UK to leave the country, but did not expect to return via a RED country (Turkey) and thus have Govt Quarantine at a cost of nearly £2,000 so I have changed my flight to an open ticket as now Uganda is also RED. Uganda is still welcoming tourists from most countries but you may have to take a new PCR test on arrival, in case you have caught COVID on the plane I guess!
With no children in school and things like 'home visits' not really allowed, volunteering on your own would not be ideal during the next few weeks unless you are very self-motivated. However with two or three friends coming together, various activities such as hill walking, painting, simple building work and gardening can easily be arranged.
Tourists are free to move everywhere in designated vehicles and Denis can organise escorted tours with perhaps a day or two at Uganda Lodge between trips. You can visit a couple of different National Parks with boat trips, and see various Lakes, Waterfalls, & Hot Springs, go on Mountain Hikes, and also Chimpanzee or Gorilla Trekking.
Special activities such as Birdwatching are amazing as many rare ones are so easy to find here in Uganda. Our trips wont break the bank and all profits will go back into the NGO to help the communities we support. Please email me for details and an information booklet.
Our UK charity is doing OK and we are just about keeping everything going with your wonderful monthly donations but if anyone would like to offer to help with new ideas for social media promotion, fundraising, finding volunteers, running a regular newsletter, promoting Uganda Lodge and possibly take on a role as a trustee I will be really happy. Denis is just renewing his NGO permit and there are a lot of hoops to jump through to get that completed but
There are so many young people here still relying on us for their food, health and education, like the hundreds we have already supported in the past 10+ years. Please help me to help them.
Enjoy your summer (or winter!!) and hope to see some of you out here in Uganda again soon.
Best Regards from Ann McCarthy and also Denis Aheirwe