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Saturday, 21 August 2010

Cooking Biogas and the Forests

Sub Saharan Africa has a large population growth with ever increasing demand for fuel for cooking and heating. But people cannot just throw a switch and get electricity or turn a valve and get natural gas. They have to rely almost entirely upon wood and charcoal.
Charcoal is produced by driving off the water in wood by slow heating in the absence of air.
All over Uganda you will see people carrying huge sacks of charcoal and it is sold all along the main roads through the country.

This is resulting in a dangerous reduction in forest and the desert lands of the Sahara are moving south and taking over good farmland and dead forest regions.
One solution which has been used extensively in India and Pakistan is the use of methane gas for cooking. The methane, referred to as Biogas, is created naturally by the breakdown of vegetable and waste organic materials. The gas produced is about 75% methane and 20% carbon dioxide plus some other impurities. Untreated is cannot be used for fuelling motor cars but it can be used for cooking and for lighting.
Andrew Ssempiija Director of St Zoes has developed some real enthusiasm for this and with help from Makerere University he built the first school biogas plant on 2008.
It meant rebuilding all the school toilets so that this waste plus other animal waste can gravity fall into two underground concrete digester tanks.
The gas starts to be created very quickly and St Zoes is now able to provide enough for nearly all the cooking for over 500 people each day from biogas. There is no smell and and the other byproduct from the biogas plant is a very good fertiliser liquid.

                                
This illustration gives a good idea of how it works.
One of the special skills courses which have already started at St Zoe is to teach local farmers how to build their own domestic biogas plants and already we have done about 6 of these. The benefits to the ecology are clear. But the benefits to the people are in not having to buy charcoal or kerosene which are huge benefits.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Engage for Africa


Engage for Africa is Matt Houghton's fund which is raising money to provide sport facilities at St Zoe's and later at Good Shepherd.
Matt ran football coaching during his visit in 2009 and this was a great success with all the boys and girls.
Matt's company is called The HQ Coaching Centre and they provide a very wide range of sport coaching in schools throughout Merseyside and Cheshire.
He collected many hundred football shirts and brought them with him for the children.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Homes for the teachers

St Zoe's Schools are about 12 kms from the nearest large town and we have 34 teachers and other staff. Many have moved to be near the school for their work. So this means that we have had to find some ways to help them with housing. It is also part of the way of life for many people to have what they call a "garden" and we would call a smallholding where they can gow domestic crops.
Over the years we have built some houses, have allowed teachers to build on our 80 acres of school land or have acquired some property as we have expanded the school land over the years.
The future plans include more staff accommodation as we grow the secondary and vocational schools and our school farming.
Lasr year we funded the purchase of about 5 acres and this traditional Uganda house came with the purchase. Brick houses are replacing this sort of mud and wattle construction and we might use it as a store.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Good Shepherd and Learning Disability




Good Shepherd School is the only Special Needs School of its kind in Fort Portal and in the whole of Western Region.  It started in September 2008 with 35 Children.  In 2009 the enrolment increased to 50 Children and 9 Teachers, then this year 2010, 72 Children have been admitted to the school aged 4 to 17 years, all with a learning difficulty, two with a hearing impairment, at least three with additional physical problems, one with epilepsy, down syndrome and one with visual difficulties. One of our UK Paediatricians does a formal assessment of their problems and needs every year. At the moment a School has six classrooms that is from Nursery up to primary five, then we have also a Vocational class for the Children who are 16 years and above, who have severe intellectual impairment that cannot cope with academic work.  
These Children are vulnerable to many misfortunes like sexual and drug abuse, when they stay redundant in villages.  The aim of this Vocational class is to equip Children with practical skills so that they can feel they are worth human beings and useful Citizens with a future.   

Monday, 2 August 2010

Career Aspirations

Happy Kukunda is one of our secondary school girls who lives near the school. She is keen to learn some new skills and if she has the ability and the opportunity then maybe one day she can become a doctor.


This is what she has to say;