Uganda Lodge Newsletter July 2014


Ann’s Update Welcome to all our new subscribers. This newsletter is to thank everyone for the support you continue to give to Denis and the community in Ruhanga and to update you alI on the latest developments. With your contributions and assistance Denis has, as usual, done lots more building in the last few months. Aside from four new accommodation Bandaand three new classrooms he has made a start on the the vocational training block. We hope that funding to complete these new facilities will come to us soon to allow the village youngsters to start learning to run their own small businesses after they complete their primary education. Have you seen the two  videos put together by one of our volunteers Nicolas Joyce?

Ruhanga Development School – In May we welcomed a new headmaster and also saw the opening of a boarding section for teenage boys and girls. Both students and teachers are very happy with their new accommodation and this gives them an opportunity to have extra study time and achieve good results in their exams. Please consider  sponsoring one of the many children who still do not have anyone paying for them. We ask for just 90p a week, you can choose a child here and you will receive a certificate with his/her photograph. A number of yearly renewals are overdue, and this makes budgeting really hard, so please check to see if if this includes you.

Scouting in Ruhanga – Our scout troop in Ruhanga is gaining strength with about 50 boys and girls taking part in many activities each week. In July the scouts attended a district camp and came 3rd out of 40 troops. Thanks to the volunteers who helped to fund this trip, and also many thanks to 7th Woking Scouts for their kind gift of two khaki shirts for the leaders and to Francis for ten bugles and some drums for a Scout band..

Sporting Facilities Richard and Edd have built new playground equipment and Denis has promised this time the area will be permanent. Kim and Emma have made a volleyball net from papyrus for the kids  and David constructed a basketball court. George, one of last year’s volunteers, is a sports teacher at UCL Academy School in London and they have raised over £1,200 and this will make a start on re-instating and upgrading the extended sports fields

Volunteering Currently we have many young volunteers helping at the school and the medical centre who are doing some great work. The majority book their stay with Denis at the Lodge through the well-established UK company Original Volunteers. but you are welcome to contact me direct for more information. More help from volunteers is needed in Ruhanga  especially during the UK Autumn and Winter months, and as its quieter then, this is an ideal time for older volunteers to join us. You will be able to have a room on your own or with your partner, and we can escort you from the moment you arrive at the airport until you get to the project. If you are alone you will soon make new friends. Challenge yourself to do something different this winter!

Recent Testimonial We have just done our elective placement for university at Uganda lodge for 4 weeks, we loved our time here getting to know the children, staff and other volunteers on different programmes. We could not thank Jordan and Rose enough for the help and support they gave us both during our time in Uganda. Jordan and Rose do an amazing job at the lodge looking after all the volunteers as well as helping the children and staff at the school, they are truly passionate about what they do and are always there if you need anything! 

Another person that we can’t thank enough is Dennis, he made our experience of safari amazing and ensuring we were all ok throughout the trip!

New Bandas Denis has finished building four spacious new Bandas for visitors, adjoining the dining area, and  complete with double beds and a wide veranda along the front.

McNeil Medical Centre The centre is now receiving more patients with a wide variety of ailments as it becomes known that we have a 24 hour doctor living on site and a fully-qualified nurse. An official opening ceremony for the medical centre will be held later in the year once work on the grounds has been completed.  The UK charity Dentaid has funded a complete Dental Kit including a chair for us and they are sending a qualified dentist out in August to help set up a permanent dental clinic in our medical centre. Then in October a group of UK dentists will come and stay at  Uganda Lodge and will work in Ruhanga and set up outreach clinics in the surrounding area . 

Vocational Skills Training Teaching youngsters skills such as catering, tailoring, mechanics and all the associated building trades to enable them to become self-employed which will help to subsidise their meagre income from subsistence farming. Currently 85% of young people aged 15-30 in Ntungamo District are out of work. Enabling these youngsters to work for themselves will have the effect of slowing the general drift of rural youth towards the large cities and finding there are still no jobs, and also help prevent the early pregnancy and marriage of the girls.

Bicycle Repair Workshop Thanks to a large donation from the Hastoe Housing Group, through the UK charity “Let them Help Themselves” we have now completed the building of a skills workshop for girls where they are  already learning to repair bicycles. A group of 12 workmates from Hastoe spent two weeks in Ruhanga and alongside gorilla trekking and a safari they spent time cleaning and painting, and to help it become self-funding they donated bicycles for hire to volunteers.

Sewing and Tailoring Adjoining the bicycle workshop Denis has helped to fund and oversee the building of another vocational classroom that will enable the young people to be trained to use the many sewing machines we have received from the UK charity ‘Tools With a Mission’. To help this become self-funding, and pay a teacher and the overheads, students will, under close supervision, make dresses, bags and trousers for volunteers, and also make re-usable sanitary wear, to sell at the medical centre and elsewhere.

Catering Skills Training  For a long time I personally have been trying to work out how to fund the building of an on-site coffee shop which would have many benefits. It would be run by a qualified catering teacher who would have young students working alongside him/her learning baking and customer services skills and working towards gaining a recognised catering certificate. As well as being a good place for volunteers to socialise, Ruhanga is an ideal stop-off point for motorists travelling from Kampala to Rwanda and the National Parks. All profits made from this initiative will directly benefit the medical centre. I have decided that at 71 my bungee jumping days are over, but please support this initiative through my fundraising page on BTDonate. If you know any coffee shop owners who may also support me please let me know.

Computers For Africa  have donated 10 fully refurbished laptops loaded with Windows 7 and Office and thanks to Hardika they all have new batteries. Volunteers have already started new IT courses for many students and staff at the Lodge.

Toilet Facilites For a larger Vocational Training Centre to become a viable reality, we need to build a toilet and shower block for the sole use of the students, rather than sharing the patients toilets at the Medical centre. To this end the chairperson of ‘Let Them Help Themselves’ (LTHT), Ida Horner,  has set up an exclusive fundraising page here

African Evening As a fundraiser towards the toilet block LTHT are also organising an African Evening on Saturday 18th October 2014 at Walton-on-Thames in Surrey  Music, food, Bar and fun Tickets only £20 each, get a group together and help raise more money !!! I can find a bed for you if you live far away. Tickets are available here 

Volunteer Activities   Over the past weeks have included; gorilla treks, QE safaris, Chimp Experiences, Batwa (pygmies) Experience, brick making, carpentry, spending the day with a local family, trips to Rwanda, Lake Bunyonyi, hill-walking around Ruhanga, Banana Run to the local hospital, painting and decorating the Lodge and classrooms and last but not least working in the school and medical centre. Eleanor arranged for  Barclays Banks to send along 20 staff to teach the children money skills and they generously donated many gifts and prizes.

Further Afield  Alongside his work in Ruhanga Denis regularly visits two different fishing communities in the Rift Valley when he takes volunteers on safari, and he has started initiatives to help improve the villagers lives there as well as in Ruhanga. In Kisenyi on Lake Edward he saw the terrible state of the toilet facilities and has built them 4 new toilet blocks. In return his visitors are always welcomed and they are generally offered tea and other refreshments.  In Kasenyi, at the northern end of Queen Elizabeth National Park, he has inherited  a large block of land adjacent to Lake George and after clearing it so lions and elephants don’t come wandering through in the night,he has set up a basic camping site plus kitchen area and after an early morning game drive visitors are treated to a delicious fish and chapatti breakfast. One of our volunteers has spent several weeks staying there and has built a filtered water system plus a flushing toilet and shower cubicle. Many thanks must go to Alan

Uganda lodge Community Projects Charity AGM The second AGM for the charity ULCP was held on 24th May 2014 and a new Chairman and Secretary were elected. Thanks were given to retiring trustees and the wording of the constitution was clarified. Trustees wished it to be noted by all  that the projects our charity support in Uganda are all locally run and managed by the Ugandan NGO, ‘Stand On Your Own’, and additionally that volunteers visits to Ruhanga are organised independently and not through this or any other UK charity.  

However volunteers and others can support Ruhanga projects by donating through the ULCP charity either directly or by setting up your own page here and thanks go to all those who have already donated. If it was over £20 you will of received a personal certificate.

Volunteer Flights to Uganda Did you know that you can book a charity flight to Uganda now through Ian Allan Travel (01932 255605) and not pay until shortly before you go? Non-stop flights for the autumn with BA are under £600 return and you  get 3 free bags of luggage so you can take out lots of donations. Alternatively other airlines can be cheaper, and your accommodation plus all meals at Uganda Lodge is only £70 per week. Many people travel alone and they soon make new friends while they are volunteering or having fun on the safaris.

If you have some free time and would like to offer help here in the UK with promotional admin work or fundraising please do contact me.

Finally, thanks from Denis and myself go to Rosie and Jordan, for all their hard work over the past months coordinating the many volunteers we have hosted . They have made the volunteers stay all the more memorable with their unfailing energy every day.

Ann McCarthy  –   Denis Aheirwe