Uganda Lodge Newsletter December 2013

December 2013

News from Ruhanga

              PO Box 368 Ntungamo SW Uganda

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December  2013       


Ann McCarthy Christmas is nearly here again and although I have only recently returned to the UK from another visit, my thoughts are never very far away from my many friends and the adorable children in Ruhanga.

Denis (Director) and Rosie (Co-ordinator)Right now our Number One priority is to get a new classroom block completed by the end of January so we can open a Primary 6 Class and have sufficient space to keep classes for the younger children at less than 50 pupils each. The local builders we employ are working as hard as they can but we must raise at least another £8,000 to enable us to pay the builders and buy the rest of the necessary construction materials (cement, iron sheets, windows, doors, etc) to complete the work. Please can you help us to make a difference this Christmas by enabling us to reach our target and provide education for those children in need?

Ready for a Party

How can YOU help?  You can make a direct donation yourself through using our online fundraising pages with BT donate or Virgin Giving. Alternatively why not set up your own fundraising page on either of these websites and ask your friends and family to donate as well,  to give our children the best present ever – EDUCATION. Your “Event” or “Sponsorship” can be simply to collect extra money to help us complete the building – you need not be doing a strenuous run or bike ride or bungee jump, although it may help if you do. Boys at Ruhanga SchoolThis is especially aimed at those of you who have already been out to Ruhanga and know what an important part our school now plays within the Community, or indeed those that are planning to go out and volunteer during the coming year. Two different girls set up online fund-raising pages recently and within 24 hours of circulating their link to all their Facebook friends each had raised over £500.  It would only need 20 people to do that and we would have the classrooms up, plastered and  painted and ready to accept students well before the school year begins again.

As you can see, the photo here shows the foundations have already been dug out for the classroom block and the builders and some volunteers are now working on the early stages of the construction.

Firing Bricks All the bricks were made on the site from our own clay and then fired for 3 days, to ensure that they will last for many years to come. We aim to be make the most of our resources and be as self-sufficient as we can.

School Update As is usual with our Director Denis at the helm, there are many new developments going on around Uganda Lodge. Ruhanga Development Nursery and Primary School  has just completed its fifth year of providing an excellent education at a very low cost to almost 500 local village children. We currently have 10 classes and our children ranging in age from 3  to 16 years. The new classroom block and library we are working on which will provide education for the 25 children who already graduated from Level 5 plus a number of new ones also hoping to join Primary 6. We need to continue expanding until we reach Primary 7, and then we can guide our students to choose between continuing their education at a Senior School or to join a Vocational Training Centre that we plan to build in the future.

Rain comes to Ruhanga  Unfortunately due to very heavy rain at the beginning of wet season we had Sweeping Floodwater

two incidents of classrooms flooding.  The rain came in through the windows and in some classrooms was over a foot deep in water- ruining posters and school books. Thanks to kind donations we have been able to build an extension on the school roof as well as a large veranda running round all the classrooms to stop this from happening again.

Market Days at Uganda Lodge Regular morning markets are now held at the Lodge, selling donated clothes and Market stallshoes. Items are sold rather than given out to prevent begging and the expectation of hand-outs coming from Uganda Lodge. Word is spreading fast and a recent market raised 1.4 million  (£350)! Staff, teachers, locals, road workers and students are all invited.  All the money raised goes straight back into the project, one time being spent on musical instruments, another on more bricks for P6 & P7 and so on. We hope to continue these regularly although security will need to be heightened!

Coordinator Lex Rosie Delivering ChapattisVolunteer Coordinators Thanks to our two full-time coordinators Volunteer life at the lodge is now much more structured. A daily breakfast meeting has been put in place to ensure all jobs are covered and everybody is busy. Since the beginning of summer volunteers have run daily “Life Skills” lessons for P1-P5 The lessons cover important topics which are not taught at school or home such as children’s rights, money handling, hand washing, manners etc. The children get the opportunity to work in smaller groups which is having a positive effect on their Group of Village Childrenconfidence and English speaking skills. In addition children who were struggling in particular subjects have been selected to join additional support groups and already their exam results have shown a massive improvement. Recently volunteers have been teaching the school choir new songs. One particular song became a favourite “We are the World” by Michael Jackson and has been recorded here at the Lodge. A volunteer is planning to take the recordings home and get them put on to a CD. Watch this space!

The Latest Toy

Other Activities  During the summer members of our new Scout and Guides Group went to the District Camp at Lake LionessNyabihoko and out of over 40 troops the girls came 2nd and the boys came 7th, an excellent result. They were invited to go to Kampala for the National Camp but unfortunately we could not fund such an expense this year. We said if they did as well next year we would try to help them. We did manage to take about 40 of the older children on a safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park, and they had a wonderful experience there. Thanks go to the volunteers who accompanied them.

Ruhanga Scout  Scouts on Lake Nyabihoko Girl Scouts with their Certificate Girl Scouts at Lunch

We had visitors from Sheffield University & Barnsley Football Club stay and coach local teams and they promised to come back again next year. Our School Gardening Classes are an important part of the curriculum.

Football team  School gardening Classes School Cabbages 

Dining ShelterCompleted School Building Work   A large Dining Shelter is now completed for the children to have their porridge and lunch under each day and also little ones have their Lego and other play activities there. Its also utilized by older

children for Debating, Choir and Music practice  especially when its raining. The next building project to be completed was a new toilet block for the boys. This has a huge septic tank and should last many years. The old ones were built for 40 children and not 400!

Initial Hole for Septic tank

The land at the far end of the School and the Lodge is still being worked on and more soil is gradually being added and leveled. This time next year we should see it all grassed over and new playground equipment in place.

 The Lodge  now has a much larger new kitchen and storage area, volunteers have built a local type oven for cakes and bread making and the dining room has been greatly extended.

    Lodge Staff

McNeil Medical Centre The Medical Centre finally opened its doors this week, and initially invited children for screening by one of the Nurses. The full recruitment process has been started and more people will be employed over the coming weeks. We have been working closely with the District Medical Officer, and on his advice we upgraded a number of items which has led to many delays. We had to tile the complete inside floor area, but Receptionistthis has given the Centre a smart and very professional finish. The patients toilets now flush rather than a simple long drop, we have built a high spec incinerator and the guard house is almost completed.  The whole compound is protected by a wire fence and metal gates, and the two security guards had a 4 -day training by the local police. Below you can see the new gate looking towards the Centre, the Guard House, Patients Toilets, Incinerator, Police  Training & Waiting Room

Gates and Medical CentrePatients ToiletsPlastered IncineratorSecurity TrainingChildren waiting at MC

Two nurses attended a two week long training course at the local hospital, and were given some free drugs; some have also been donated from UK along with some medical equipment. We have been able to cover the cost of most of the upgrades and the essential equipment we need to open properly, thanks to generous donations from a number of different people.

Amna Ahmed is a qualified Doctor who volunteered with us earlier this year and she managed to raise nearly £3000 for Medical Equipment  which she and Doctor Moses traveled to Kampala to purchase a  few weeks ago. Other recent volunteers have donated in excess of £1,000 and Nick and Harriet Lear from Hastoe Housing Trust raised almost £7,000 for the Medical Centre by doing a sponsored 900 mile cycle ride. This couple are amazing as they are both in their 70’s and we are hoping they may come out to Ruhanga to attend an official opening in February.

Lex and haircutAfter the haircutDr Amna & Dr Moses buy Medical Equipment

Additional Fundraising Here is our coordinator Lex having her head shaved by 400 children, and as a result she collected over £500 towards the new classrooms. Also see Dr Amna & Dr Moses counting the money Dr Amna raised for Medical equipment.

Denis and I both send our thanks to you all on behalf of the people of Ruhanga, and especially to the board of ASE Consulting who have now donated in excess of £50,000 towards this wonderful gift of a Village Medical Centre.

Arrival of ContainerGoods from ContainerArrival of a Container Many months ago I was contacted by the General manager of Arjo Wiggins Paper Mills up in Scotland and asked if we would like them to donate a 20 ft container to us filled with useful items for Ruhanga. Naturally I said Yes, and I managed to get several pallets of items I had collected down in London delivered to help fill the container,  plus some medical equipment, tools and sewing machines from TWAM bicycles and much paper and card from the paper mill. Thanks to all who organised and helped to fill this much appreciated gift..321 Joshua

Child Sponsorship  A small but significant gift this Christmas would be to sponsor a child at our school. Either choose this as a gift for a friend or family member or decide this is your gift to a student. £3.50 per month can help us to continue providing very affordable education with extras such as free breakfast and uniform. To see an up-to-date list of the children who still need sponsoring please visit

Planets in the ClassroomRuhanga Students

Volunteering at Uganda Lodge Now is the time to  think about a volunteering holiday for 2014. With a British Airways Charity Fight booked through Ian Allan Travel (+44 1932255605) you can hold a flight and pay later, its non-stop from Heathrow and you get 3 free bags of luggage. Gorilla Trekking permits are again discounted for the month of May, provided you book early.

Gorilla TreksBreakfast at KasenyiElephant Safari Serving Porrage

Our onsite UK coordinators fit your  skills and interests to the work that benefits the local community. You have the weekends free to visit one of the nearby lakes, pop across to Rwanda or join a 3-day safari to QE National Park with Denis as your guide. Email me and ask for an updated introduction pack – full board accommodation is only £70 per week.and remember “Volunteering is for all Ages and not just Gap year Students”

We offer a wide range of different activities. Below is the Crane Bar at the Lodge, Volunteers painting Wall Murals, a girl at the school field and myself and Tracie entertaining Denis Bosses (He is in the UPDF – the Ugandan Army)

Crane bar at Uganda LodgePainting the walls Girl on Playing FieldAnn & Tracie with Denis Bosses

Volunteer Help Needed  Finally – could you find a couple of hours to spare each week, and offer to assist with the admin associated with helping our friends in Ruhanga?  Child Sponsorship, Running our Registered Charity, updating Facebook, Sending info to Volunteers going out to Uganda and General Fundraising all take a large amount of time, as does writing these occasional newsletters. I am very reluctant to start paying UK salaries to facilitate all this work as it would mean less going money out to Denis and Ruhanga Parish each month and all our plans will take a lot longer to get started. I would really appreciate an email or a phone call from any of you reading this  (+44 1932 562757) and we can discuss where you can fit in. If you live in the south-east UK  you are welcome to visit me any time (when I am not out in Uganda).

Most of you know – we are a registered UK charity and a link to become a member is shown below.


Best Wishes From: 

Ann McCarthy +44 786751388

               Denis Aheirwe +256 701536197

                              and the UGANDA LODGE TEAM

Click here to see the children attending the school who are currently awaiting your sponsorshipClick here for details of how to become a member of Uganda Lodge Community Projects