Uganda Lodge Newsletter April 2015


    Updates from Ruhanga,

Kasenyi and Uganda Lodge

 PO Box 368 Ntungamo SW Uganda



April 2015


Welcome to the first term of a new school year in Uganda. Students out there never all turn up on the first day of term, and it was three weeks into the term before numbers of new and returning students finally settled at 457 children. These are spread over 10 classes – from the cheeky adorable three year olds in baby class right up to very self-assured 14-17 year old Primary 7 students just starting what is likely to be their final year of education.

Many of the older children plus a sprinkling of younger ones are now boarding – over 70 of them in total, and they are all settled in and very happy. They willingly do their chores, washing, cleaning their dorms and lots of extra study in the hope that they will get good exam results at the end of the year.

Some of the children moved into the newly built dormitories, although due to a lack of money to pay the builders they were not really ready – no plaster around the doors & windows, floors are not rendered, and no paint on the walls. Fortunately some new volunteers arrived and thanks to Gina & Nicky followed by Bernie, Julie, Amy & Beth the work was completed and I heard they now also have new bed-sheets, curtains and more mattresses

The new children are now all photographed and up on our website and would loved to be sponsored, you can choose one or more here.  Unlike many other sponsorship schemes that spend a lot on admin we ask for a commitment of only  £3.50 a month per child and that really does help us provide a good education for these vulnerable youngsters at minimal or no cost to their parents or carers.

Our scout troop comprising 40 boys and girls is having regular meetings and have benefited from generous donations from two scout groups in the UK. They would like to contact groups in the UK by email to learn about scouting in other countries, but due to poor internet connection file size of photos etc must be kept to a minimum. We are also experimenting with our school keeping in touch with interested schools in the UK in the same way, but this is in the early stages. If you work at a school and would like to know more about this link-up please contact  Fundraising at a UK school recently paid for many new Ugandan text books 

Thanks to some new funding from the charity “Let Them Help Themselves out of Poverty” we have started a six month skills initiative at our newly completed vocational training centre to give 60 students from local schools free computer lessons and also teach a smaller group of youngsters how to use sewing machines, and start to make clothes etc, The girls will also all learn how to make packs of re-usable sanitary wear for themselves and later for sale to other village ladies. These classes are being run alongside the normal low-cost tailoring and IT lessons offered to the community in general.

We have two new key Ugandan staff members. Faridah, who volunteered twice last year, has moved to Ruhanga from Kampala; she is computer-literate and is working closely with Denis to oversee all aspects of running the Lodge and NGO projects plus giving feedback to the UK. Also new is Alex, who is working part-time and overseeing the running of the vocational training centre.

The Medical centre has been open for just over a year and patient numbers are slowly rising, although many from the local community cannot afford to buy the necessary prescribed drugs even at cost price, and after a free consultation frequently fall back on traditional herbal remedies. We applied last year and before long hope to be accepted onto the government scheme of free drugs for non-profits. Community visits from medical centre staff and volunteers are well received and are helping to advise local village families on best practice to maintain good health and hygiene. The medical centre had a visit from some local disabled people and we were able to loan donated walking frames to help their mobility.

I have had so many kind donations of clothes, uniforms, toys etc to my home in the UK over the past few months that I had almost 40 x 23 kg bags stored and waiting to go out to the project. As we had no other way of getting these out to Uganda I reluctantly spent over £600 to ship these out to Uganda in a container. However, the value of these goods to the village will far exceed this amount once they arrive.




The new Bandas being built on Denis’s land at Kaseny in Queen Elizabeth National Park are slowly taking shape, thanks to low interest loans from supporters, A number of visitors plus our own volunteers have slept there whilst on safari, close to the sounds of hippos, hyenas and many different birds and thoroughly enjoyed being so close to nature. .

Due to recent changes in OV’s booking procedures we do not seem to be getting many advance bookings, despite all the publicity and amazing films about Uganda on Comic Relief. Low volunteer numbers will slow down the amount of work Denis can do towards helping the local villagers although so far he has managed to keep all the staff employed throughout the winter. 

Besides helping at the school and medical centre or assisting with general site maintenance, volunteers at Uganda Lodge usually take advantage of going on safari or maybe  gorilla trekking in Bwindi National Park with Denis.

Denis has been organising some cheaper new day trips for our volunteers this summer such as chimp trekking, visiting a nearby ancient ceremonial site to see the ‘rocking stones’ and bathing in the hot springs.I have just found  return flights to Entebbe advertised with Turkish Airlines for as little as £358 in May and as it’s only £15/day full board to stay at Uganda Lodge, you could  stay with us for 3 weeks plus go on safari for around £1,000. Its not to late to book a slot in the Uganda Marathon on 24th May and join our other volunteers in this great event

 Recent Volunteers sent me an email after returning home that included the words ” we have fallen in love with Uganda …. and we will be returning  next year for 4 weeks…thanks again Ann it has been a life-changing experience.” Denis & I really appreciate such testimonials, so  please tell all your friends about volunteering and ‘holidays with a difference’. Many people of all ages never even know that such opportunities exist for singles, families and the active retired as well as young Gap Year students, so spread the word if you have already been out to Ruhanga. We still have lots of spaces at Uganda Lodge for all dates this year, . 

Our supporting Charity LTHT recently organised a sponsored walk around Virginia Water Lake and raised some more funding for the Tailoring and IT skills training initiative. We have been donated 10 refurbished laptops from the UK charity Computers4Africa & one of our trustees paid to purchase new batteries for each of them

Coffee Shop Build This is a link to our fundraising page where we are hoping to receive more donations so we can continue building a coffee shop and catering facility to offer cookery lessons and customer service skills to teenage school leavers. The foundations are now in place  and further donations here will help Denis to get the walls and roof  completed.

We have fundraising pages that you can find on Virgin Giving  for three UK runners in the Ugandan marathon – Jordan Lindsay, Sophie Matheson and Sean Batchelor plus Janet Hodgson who is is swimming 26 miles instead of running.

Fundraising Pages have also been set up for Ruhanga on  BT Donate by Rosie Walker (Rosie, Manny & Anita) who are running a half marathon in Leeds, Manisha Patel who is running10kms in Manchester and Faridah Nakijjoba who will also run in the Uganda Marathon.

I know that you cannot all do fundraising for us  – although just sponsoring one child for 90p a week would help but if you are at College or University or work in a large company would you make a poster to put up on your noticeboard about volunteering?  Alternatively I can email you one as a ready made one to print out. A number of Medical students have found Uganda Lodge a cheap option for doing their electives and other students have done a variety of research work for their final dissertations..

I have started a new FACEBOOK Group called Child Sponsorship in Ruhanga. Please join it and if you have been out to Ruhanga add some of your photos and memories. – old and new news will be welcome. We also have two Pages for you to LIKE called  Ruhanga Development School and Volunteer at Uganda Lodge  that Ian Emm and myself try to keep updated with fresh photos & news

Thanks for reading this far and a huge “THANKYOU” to all that are supporting our projects and the communities in Ruhanga and Kasenyi

Hope to hear from you soon with a request for an application form to go out to volunteer or to start sponsoring one of our children

Ann McCarthy and Denis Aheirwe