Hello to all our Friends and Supporters.
Apologies for the long gap since my last newsletter at the end of November. I have been out to Uganda twice this year and every day is busy, especially since our bursar/coordinator had to return to the UK due to ill health of her father. We wish him well and thank Jen for the great work she did during the year she was out in Uganda. I still have all the charity & volunteers admin to do regardless of where I am. We really need more help, and especially with promotion and looking for new volunteers as well as sponsors and donors.
This new school year started well with approx. 500 children. Most are paying the low school fees that we ask, though as you know this only covers a small percentage of our overall costs and we make the rest up from sponsorship, donations and fundraising. The more supporters we have who pay £5 or £10 per month, the easier it is for us to keep the school running as efficiently as we would wish. This can be paid either by standing order to our UK Barclays charity bank or by using your ATM card here: www.sponsorachild.co.uk
This helps us to educate so many rural children each year with no help from the Ugandan government. Once again last years Primary 7 leavers had 100% pass rate and most gained a grade 1 or 2, fantastic since so many come from uneducated families who speak little English, let alone read and write.
Once these children leave primary school, a few will manage to start senior school but even for those who stay long enough to get GCSE’s most are unlikely to find paid work. Thus, the aim of Denis and myself is to continue to develop our fledgling vocation centre and enable youngsters to learn a trade and start a part-time business of their own. Currently our tailoring classes make the uniforms for the school and the school sweaters are knitted in the knitting classes. We also have a beauty salon where local women can have their hair and nails done by students learning their trade. Any small income generated by these classes enables us to heavily subsidise this training.
We have re-started building work again on the Training Kitchen/Restaurant that we began some time ago, but this is a very slow process and we need to raise at least an additional £10,000 to complete. Do you know anyone in the catering trade who may help fund this? Once the restaurant is up and running, research has shown us that it will quickly become self-funding and eventually could help towards financing the school and medical centre.
Any of you who might be able to support us by doing a sponsored event such as swimming, running, climbing, bungee jump etc would be most welcome.
Previous volunteer Tricia and new husband Rob ran the equivalent distance of a marathon by running a mile a day up to and including their wedding day and have already raised over £1000 for us. They are currently on safari with Denis before volunteering at the school. Here is their fundraising page for any donations. https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/TriciaandRobLebeterandMarron
Our other current building project is to build a badly-needed new toilet block for the 250+ girls attending the school. A previous volunteer called Jo has set up a fundraising page called “Spend a Penny, Build a Loo” and after cycling the length of England and holding a fundraising dinner party she has raised over half the £5,000 we need to complete the building. She now has friends hosting similar events themselves, such as another dinner party, a cheese and wine evening or coffee morning and in turn some of their guests are doing the same (a bit like the old Tupperware parties). Can you help us complete these new toilets?
Our upper class students have been very fortunate to receive brand new Ugandan text books thanks to the generosity of Fiona, another recent volunteer. In the past only the teacher would have had access to a copy of the required book and students had to copy everything off the blackboard. Now our older students are able to share a book between three for their four core subjects. This is enhancing their learning considerably.
Very soon these text books, together with a selection of age-appropriate reading books and other teaching aids will be be kept in each classroom. This is thanks to the Utopia Foundation who have funded the building of a dozen lockable book storage cabinets.
The Utopia Foundation are also funding the school nurse working out of our medical centre to look after the physical and mental welfare of students and teachers, and they are enabling us to add milk to the children's daily mug of free porridge. This gives them all additional nutrition and with the help of other recent volunteers the children and teachers are also having some variation in their diet each week. Thanks to all.
You may remember that last year we lost the regular funding that has kept our medical centre running for the last 5 years and we had to cut down on the services we offered. We were only able to retain Rosen, our live-in manager and midwife, and had to rely on other part-time staff. She has now left us to study advanced midwifery full-time in Kampala and we thank her for all the work she has done and support she has given to the community over the past years.
Recently, Duncan McNeil (who the centre was named after on his retirement) has come forward with a new input of funding and we have been able to again employ a full time live-in doctor, lab technician and also a midwife to replace Rosen. Drug stocks have been replenished and huge thanks are due to Duncan for helping us to keep this very important work going. This is again enabling us to do a lot more outreach work, give health talks, and hold inoculations and family planning clinics in the local villages.
Medical personnel and other volunteers have been supporting this work and positive outcomes include supplying more than a dozen families with a 'Tippy-Tap'. These are a hand-washing system, made from pieces of wood, a few nails, a Jerry can, string and soap, and gives everyone an easy way to wash their hands after using the latrines.We frequently host Medical Elective students from overseas and they all have a great experience without the high cost many of the specialist companies charge.
While on outreach work, volunteers met a youngster with severe mental and physical disabilities. There is no government support for such children so volunteers Karen and Kate bought a wheelchair and additional equipment for his use. We then linked up with an Entebbe-based NGO - EmbraceKulture and we hosted two reps of the NGO at Uganda Lodge for 5 days. They assessed Phillip and gave talks in our school and around the village to sensitise them about disability and inclusion. They found a number of other similar youngsters and we are organising a support group amongst the parents and carers. To continue running this we need to source money from an organisation or trust fund which specifically supports disabilities.
We are continuing to receive funding for the school through Easyfundraising and Your School Lottery, and now also we can earn commission from Amazon Smile so thank you to everyone for participating, please encourage friends and family to join. To join any of these you need our UK charity name - Uganda Lodge Community Projects
If you live near to Shepperton Film Studios, I am running a fundraising film evening on Thursday 19th September in aid of our charity. Its in the 40 seat theatre in the heart of the studios, snacks and drink will be provided and tickets will be available soon. The chosen film has not yet been confirmed but please email me to know more. We would welcome as will support on the evening and donations of suitable raffle prizes would be most acceptable.
Our Scout group at the school is still going strong, and they really enjoyed the visit from the Daviot and OldMeldrum Scouts from Aberdeen last year. Both groups learned a lot from each other andwere please to welcome back the Scout Leader Mike and his family again at Easter. (Thanks for painting the interior of the huge hall they funded and built) We are all looking forward to another visit in July next year when the Scottish group will return again.
While on the subject of Scouting, I have just learned that the 2020 All-Africa Jamboree will be held in Uganda on 8th-12th August. I am hoping two patrols of our Scouts will attend and we can open an invitation to any International Scouts or Guides and their leaders to join us. We don’t have final details as yet but please get in touch if your group or any independent 18+ travellers are interested.
In June this year Denis, Richard and Rosen from the Lodge and five other volunteers ran in the Uganda Marathon in Masaka. All finished the course and raised money towards the school and the Training Restaurant at our vocation centre.
In July we had a group of 9 British teenagers plus 4 adults who all live in France visit us and they had am amazing time. You may like to see their Facebook group UGANDA 2019 Thankyou for all your fundraising beforehand and the work you did whilst out in Uganda.
We had a visit from one of our long term supporters, Nicola, who brought out 30 sets of re-usable pads for our girls which had been made by her sewing group in Dubai. Others have fund-raised for paint, cement, sand etc and have also taken out medical supplies, sports kits, books & uniforms, plus unwanted clothes and shoes for our regular Uganda Lodge Mini Markets. Please help us and keep promoting Volunteering and 'Holidays with a Difference'. We know our prices are really affordable and Denis’s safaris are amazing, and all the small profits go straight back into the community.
We have received feedback from medical electives staying with us that the experiences they have had have really helped their career and have given them a valuable insight into real hands on medicine in Africa, an experience they would not get through most other programmes. NOW is the time to book, before our prices rise next year!