Christmas Greetings to all our friends and supporters of Uganda Lodge and the rural communities we help in Western Uganda. What an unusual year 2020 has proved to be, and how badly it has affected so many of us both in the west and especially in developing countries like Uganda. Never has there been a more important time to support our school so PLEASE SUPPORT A CHILD'S EDUCATION FOR £5/$6 a MONTH I would be so grateful to you for taking the time to read this newsletter, and please do share it far and wide. Firstly though, I’d like to hand over to my son Jason - who is now taking care of the challenging process of finding new volunteers.
This is Jason - Ann’s son - Some of you know will know me from my trip to Uganda, some of you won't. Sincere thanks for your support of the school and other projects and mum’s efforts.
As mum mentioned I am now helping her find new volunteers for the school and project. This is mainly due to the recent closure of the ‘Original Volunteers’ agency who introduced many of our supporters over the years.
I now have the onerous task of figuring our social media and ways to fill the diary. With this in mind, I’d be delighted if those of you who have already volunteered with us, would take a moment to record on your phone or Zoom, a short 90 second, joyful testimonial or specific memory of your time at the school, for example: teaching a class, making friends, helping a child, trekking in the forests - whatever your most cherished memory might be.
This is will be very useful for us to use on social media, as a way to raise more awareness of the wonderful project that we’ve all been involved in. Also please share any photographs of yourself during your time in Uganda. Wetransfer.com offers a free service for you to share your footage - please email to me at email@example.com If you have any questions or need any help with the tech, please Call/WhatsApp directly on +44 7958 701404 Our other request is for you to take a couple more moments of time to ‘Like, Follow & Comment’ on our new Social Media channels, which are: https://www.instagram.com/volunteerinuganda/ https://www.facebook.com/Volunteerinugandacom https://www.youtube.com/user/ugandalodge1/ I’m going to pass you back to Ann now, to hear some of the progress made during this crazy year.
Happy New Year and best wishes to you - From Jason McCarthy
News Continued: I was out in Uganda for 4 months when the pandemic first started and returned home on a repatriation flight and then went back again for a few weeks after Entebbe airport re-opened in early October. Luckily there have been relatively few COVID cases out there although the children have missed many months of their education and masks and hand washing is compulsory when out and about. Schools all closed back in March but our Primary 7 students returned to school under strict conditions in October and have done well. However keeping it all going is a difficult task as a high percentage of these children arrived with little money towards their food and necessary staff salaries etc. When we sent them home they came back with just £1 or £2. We urgently need many more new supporters to join our £5 a month sponsorship scheme, especially so we can be ready for 500+ children to return again sometime in the New Year. Please seewww.sponsorachild.co.uk and consider signing up. Every £5/$6 goes a long way in Uganda. In a normal year profits and frequent donations from our International Volunteers staying at Uganda Lodge and joining the safaris that Denis runs, helps to cover the cost of running our school for these, the poorest of children from our local community, but of course this has not happened in 2020. We email out a “Thankyou” certificate to all donors and this makes an ideal Christmas or birthday present for a young child or a Grandma – whoever. It also means you have the option of spreading the cost of Christmas throughout the year or you can pay £60 right now by making a payment through https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charities/ruhanga Please also tell all your friends and see if you can find us a couple of others to sponsor at least one of these children. (If you ask me for details you can also make a one-off donation or set up a Standing Order direct to our charity bank account) We just had a young UK volunteer for a month, whose parents incidentally met in Uganda over 25 years ago and already through him we have 6 new children being sponsored. Thankyou Thomas.
Overseas trips are not impossible, and its reasonably safe to travel again, especially to Uganda. On 1st October Entebbe airport reopened for visitors and volunteers of all Nationalities (& all ages!!) that come with a negative COVID-19 test certificate taken less than 120 hours before flying. The National Parks, Chimp Habituation and Gorilla Trek facilities have all reopened and – until the end of March - have reduced their prices considerably. Unfortunately, gorilla permits purchased earlier this year cannot be reduced, but new ones are currently $400 instead of $700 for non-Ugandans.
Denis and I give thanks to all our regular donors, without whose help we could not have kept on many of our staff at Ruhanga and especially we were able to keep the Medical Centre open, and the School, Lodge and Vocation Centre have all benefitted from some new build, essential repairs and renovations. Classrooms have been newly cemented and painted, hedges been added in the grounds and the school dining shelter is now supported by concrete columns instead of the wooden posts that were on the verge of giving way
Security and new build has been ongoing at our two fishing communities within Queen Elizabeth National Park utilising specific funding and this has helped many marginalised fishing families on the shores of two different lakes.
Denis had an opportunity to purchase 50,000 new trees up on the hills surrounding Uganda Lodge (on a grow now pay later basis!) and they will start to give us a profit in a few short years. Eucalyptus trees are used for building, firing bricks, and cooking and when you cut the main trunk 5 more quickly grow up on the same tree.
Other donors I would specifically like to mention are the Daviot and Old Meldrum Explorer Scouts from Scotland who despite the disappointment of not returning to Uganda Lodge again in 2020 have sent us the £15,000 they raised to help build new sleeping accommodation for older Students. We utilised this money to add a 2nd storey to protect the flat roof of our Medical Centre as its only a few yards from where the Vocation Centre students will be learning new skills so its ideal for their dormitories.
Mr Duncan McNeil has again supported the running costs of our Medical centre; the Bolton Halal Centre has raised £1,500 and this is enabling us to restart work on the proposed Training Restaurant. We are now making the window frames and then will move on to interior ceilings and plastering. From research we believe that after almost a year of no education many teenagers will not return to standard education and this is making the provision of basic vocation life skills and business skills even more important. Thanks also to several others who have made substantial or regular donations over the past months and also to those who have made applications to trust funds although so far we have not been successful. To enable us to open our training kitchen/restaurant we need to raise another £20,000 and then additional amounts for starting other follow-on affordable classes for our Primary 7 graduates. You can make a donation towards our Vocation Centre through Virgin Donateor if you know a company/individual that might make a substantial donation please contact me for a detailed proposal and our charity bank details.
With no volunteers going out to Uganda I had stockpiled many boxes of donations at my house so decided to ship them out to Uganda in a container, and Denis would clear them in Kampala through his NGO as we have done in the past. Seems things have changed and after our initial quote of £600, the costs have almost doubled with unexpected en-route port fees etc. However we hope some of the costs can be reclaimed by selling the items very cheaply and the local communities will be very happy that our Uganda Lodge Markets will resume.
Back in March we were suddenly bereft of all volunteers except for me, who was lucky enough to enjoy 4 months in the beautiful rural west of Uganda. Entebbe Airport reopened in October and we have now received several new overseas visitors from several different countries. As long as you have a 120 hour negative COVID test result you can enter from any country. Uganda Lodge is in a beautiful rural area and it is most unlikely you will come in contact with anyone having COVID on a visit. Until the end of March 2021, National Park Fees and Gorilla Permits are heavily reduced, and with just £100 Booking fee plus £140 per week full board accommodation this is a great time to have a 'Holiday with a Difference' or a month or longer volunteering. Volunteering looks great on a CV and we can also place Medical Electives for NO ADDITIONAL FEES. Singles or groups of all ages are welcome. Please email me for an updated info booklet if you are considering a trip Uganda any time soon, or contact my son Jason as above.
OR - just help us with our school expenses by supporting a child at £5 per month.www.sponsorachild.co.uk
I hope to return again myself early in the coming year but meanwhile I am finding it increasingly hard to keep up with the ongoing admin that is needed to attract new sponors, donors and volunteers. If you, or anyone you know is looking for a new long-term interest, and might like to become a member or even a trustee of our UK charity please do contact me.
Denis and I wish you all the Best Christmas that is possible in 2020 and lets hope 2010 turns out much better. WhatsApp Ann +44 7867998414
Denis +256 774768090 or +256 701536197