Uganda Lodge Newsletter July 2015


    Updates from Ruhanga


Greetings to all friends & supporters of Uganda Lodge

While I was in Ruhanga earlier in the year, I saw the beginning of Term 2 of the new school year, with over 30 new children registering, bringing our numbers up to 480 children registered.

At the end of May volunteers and staff fund-raised for us at the 1st Uganda Marathon in Masaka. This was very successful and many friends supported them with kind donations. Well-done and thank you to  Jordan, Sophie, Sean and Faridah who  all completed their chosen distance. The event will be held again next year on 5th June so save this date in your diary for a trip to Uganda in 2016. Not up for running 26 miles fo us? Then you can opt for just 10kms. Manisha plus Rosie & her friends also  ran for Uganda Lodge at races in the UK, and over a number of trips to her local pool, Jan swam 26 miles  (further than across the English Channel!)

At school many children are having a cooked school lunch consisting of posho (maize meal), cabbage and beans each day as well as their breakfast porridge, and a few bring packed lunch from home in a small flask.

There are now almost 80 boarders, and each of these gets two servings of porridge and two meals of Posho and beans per day – probably much more than they would get if they were sleeping at their homes. Boarding gives them a better chance of getting good exam results as they have far less chores to do than if they were at home.

We keep the fees for both boarders and day students at a very low level so it’s affordable for most, but to continue to do this and provide the daily porridge we do need to find some more sponsors for the children still waiting here. If you are not already a sponsor, can you spare just 90p a week to help us, or find a friend who can? Can you help by setting up a standing order to sponsor one or more of our children? Your name will appear against your sponsored children on the website and you will receive a certificate that includes your child’s name and photo. Thanks to those already sponsoring, it means so much to these children  to get a good education.

Thanks to sponsorship money and other fundraising, Denis has completed the building of two new dormitories and earlier volunteers painted the walls, made curtains and bought new bed-sheets. With the school now fully registered we will be able to host the external Primary Seven leaving exams in November, as well as accept students from the many unregistered schools in the area.

In addition to their core  lessons,  the students are offered extra activities such Gardening,  Computing, Tailoring, Library, Choir & Music, Debating, Sports and Scouting, and volunteers frequently help with these activities. The children pay only a very small fee to attend and these fees barely covers the teacher’s salaries, without any other expenses  associated with running a school, so these additional activities are funded from your sponsorship money.

We recently bought seeds and some new hoes so we can provide a greater variety of vegetables for the children. Volunteers staying at Uganda Lodge help with gardening , alongside a variety of other jobs such as painting, making bricks, building playground equipment, carpentry, working in the Medical Centre, sports, drama & music, activity play for the little ones, community outreach work, arts and crafts  and of course traditional teaching for those with suitable skills.

Thanks to some additional funding from the charity LTHT,  we are currently providing free lessons in tailoring, knitting, shoe-making and computer lessons at our new Vocation Centre. This will go a long way towards equipping  the youth of the area with a skill or trade that will, with some further start-up support,  enable them to begin a small business of their own. If  anyone reading this is interested to start up a sponsorship scheme for these older students similar to the one we run for the school  please do contact me.

Plans to extend the Vocational Training are in place and the foundations for Phase II has started. A coffee Shop / Snack bar that will offer refreshments to passing motorists will also serve as a low-cost catering training centre for some of the many unemployed youth in the area. More funding is needed to continue building the walls, roof and interior decorations and you can donate towards this here

Our Medical Centre is becoming more well-known and we receive patients from over a wide area as well as many local children. Medical screening and dental check-ups are helping to catch diseases early on before they get too serious. We are now starting a programme to provide free vaccinations to all children in Ruhanga, thanks to the continued funding from ASE Consulting in the UK

We can facilitate Medical Students of all nationalities wanting the practical experience of working in an African hospital, and they find its very hands-on. We charge no extra fees to set this up, other a small weekly charge for accommodation and  meals. Recent medical students worked with the children on personal hygiene to prevent the spread of typhoid and they said they experienced more in a morning than they would of done in a month in the UK. Five trainee Doctors out there devoted some time to screening all 480 of our students alongside their work in Itojo Hospital.

Volunteer numbers at the Lodge seem to be down this year – can you help to promote the idea of volunteering instead of a traditional holiday amongst your friends, perhaps by putting up a poster at your school, university or place of work? You can see one that has already been designed here, or feel free to make your own. That would really help, and by booking direct with our project, volunteers save all the ‘middle man’ fees, yet we  offer exactly very similar support, advice and experience as most of the large companies offering trips that cost several thousand pounds.

Almost everyone who stays with us chooses to join one of Denis famous affordable 3-day safaris to Queen Elizabeth National Park and get close-up to Lions, Buffalo, Hippos, & Elephants etc, and volunteers of all ages say its one of the best weekend of their lives.

A few lucky ones also opt to trek up in the forests and spend time observing an extended family of rare mountain gorillas. Jan & Sophie both recently came within arms length of them and remarked that it was a lifetime ‘best experience’.

All your donations will be put to good use in Ruhanga at the school and vocational training centre; thank you all so much. Work has already started on building a tower for a large water tank at the school and it will have a sports store-room below.

Denis’s Banda and Camping Site project at Kasenyi Plains is moving forward and visitors going on safari stop there on the banks of the beautiful Lake George.Visitors sleep on a thick mattress under a mosquito net, in individual straw roofed Bandas with shower and toilet facilities just 20 metres away. Next he will be adding some beds in each room and the final plan is to make each Banda into a self-contained unit. Its great falling asleep to the sounds of hippos and hyenas in the distance, and also knowing that your contribution to your nights contribution is helping another African Community.

Denis, on behalf of  local Ugandan villagers, says ‘Thank you all so much for supporting these friendly and welcoming rural communities and helping to provide so many children with a better future. Please continue to help us by visiting us or simply by sponsoring one or more of our children’

Ann McCarthy and Denis Aheirwe