November 2015 Letter to Volunteers

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      Dear Volunteers,   I hope this letter finds you well and looking forward to Christmas. Denis has asked me to write to all the past volunteers who have spent time at Uganda Lodge, in the hope that you are able to help him move forward and assist an ever increasing circle of young people both in Ruhanga and also in the fishing villages he supports in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Over the past year volunteer numbers have dropped considerably from what they were in the previous four years, mainly due to changes in the management at ‘Original Volunteers’ (the volunteer company who had been promoting our project). The effect of this is that Denis is left with less profit from accommodation and safaris to put back into infrastructure. Many of you are hopefully reading the newsletters I send out or you can see past ones here, but to recap, over the past 5 years or so Denis has overseen the installation of a gravity-fed clean water system that has brought taps giving fresh water near to many homes around Uganda Lodge and given regular or part-time paid work to dozens of different villagers surrounding Uganda Lodge. This would not have been possible without fundraising and donations from many international supporters. He has facilitated over 800 different children to receive virtually free education at the fully registered Ruhanga Development Nursery & Primary School and currently has almost 400 attending daily with another 80 boarding. The school is run through a PTA and funding to build the 10 classrooms, 4 dormitories with showers, kitchen and dining area, teachers offices & accommodation, and a large sports field has come from donations from past volunteers, profits from Denis’s Lodge/Safari business. The day-to-day running of the school is funded through our child sponsorship scheme and the small school fees collected from some (but not all) of the children. In 2013 his NGO (Stand on Your Own) received funding from ASE Consulting Ltd and other donors to facilitate the construction of a village medical centre. Now everyone in the surrounding villages has free access to a qualified Doctor or Nurse. Ante-natal & dental clinics are held, local schoolchildren are regularly screened & treated, babies are inoculated and outreach work is done in the local community. More recently, thanks to some funding from Hastoe Housing through the UK charity LTHT, and again profits and donations from volunteers, he has opened the first Stage of a Vocational Training Centre. Fees are set at a level that is affordable for young people in the area, especially those who will never get to senior school and beyond. Currently students have enrolled in classes for Tailoring, Computing and Shoemaking. Stage 2 is the opening of a Restaurant where many youngsters will be able to learn Catering Skills, but more funding is needed to complete this. Once the restaurant is up and running, funding will be needed for Stage 3 which will be a Mechanics workshop for trainee students to learn vehicle servicing and repairs, Further trade skills will be offered in the future such as building work, carpentry, hairdressing, welding & so on but this depends on how quickly Denis can get funding to build the necessary workshop-style classrooms. Aside from Ruhanga, Denis has some land situated within Queen Elizabeth National Park and adjacent to two different fishing villages – Kisenyi on Lake Edward and Kasenyi on Lake George, which he has started to develop for other tourists. Those of you who have been on safari with him may have visited here and seen that there is potential here too to help many more very poor Ugandan families. So, after experiencing the magic of rural Uganda are you able to support Denis to do more for the rural families since you have returned home? These are some of the ways you can help;

  1. Sponsor a child and/or find others to do the same for only £3.50p a month. Sponsorship makes an ideal Christmas present for a Gran or another member of your family as you will receive a certificate that has the sponsors name alongside the child’s name and photo. Currently there are about 50 children without sponsors.
  2. Promote volunteering at Ruhanga and Denis’s Safaris to your colleagues at Uni, College, School or place of work and your Facebook friends. By booking direct there are no additional volunteer fees, its only £15 per day full board and flights start at around £350 return.
  3. Make a Donation or better still start your own online  fundraising page  towards completing more work at our Vocational Training Centre.
  4. Consider making a partnership agreement, long-term loan or a suitable donation to enable work to be continued at the Queen Elizabeth fishing villages.
  5. There is another International Marathon (or half or 10kms) being held on Sunday 6th June in Masaka – would you or any friends be willing to do a sponsored run there for our projects? If yes please let me know as I may be able to negotiate a special price for the entry fee.
  6. Do you have a few spare hours to help with admin and promotion of Uganda Lodge in the UK?

On behalf of Denis and myself, we are wishing you a very Happy Christmas and we look forward to meeting you again soon in Ruhanga. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Many Thanks
Kindest Regards
Ann McCarthy and Denis Aheirwe

+44 (0) 1932 562757 or +44  7867513588
‘Uganda Lodge Community Projects’
UK Charity Reg 1150023

In Uganda Contact Denis +256 701536197

‘Stand on Your Own’ – Ugandan Reg NGO 9093