Sunday 17 March 2024

Sharing the Joy

The HUGS Trustees trip to Uganda last month has filled us with joy and hope.  We are reminded of the dedication and personal sacrifice of our Trusted representatives and marvel at the tenacity of the organisations they work for, which we support.  We met with so many children who, with a little help from our donors, are surmounting great obstacles in life to learn, grow and have fun.

We’d like to share four highlights of our trip with you in the form of short videos.

The first shows the progress of the New Hope School, which will care for 300 children from the Kosovo Slum, Kampala. When you watch it, remember that most children have never been to the countryside and don’t have space to play.  The building work is going to plan, on time, and within budget.

During our visit, we presented a new football kit to the Girls football team at Dokolo School. Two years ago, the girls won the regional football championships playing barefoot in their school uniforms.  There’s nothing holding them back now so be prepared for more trophies.  The dances they perform are traditional Ugandan and celebrate the strength of woman. Very apt.

We met with 4 University students HUGS has sponsored who graduated in 2023/4. This video shows a short interview with Rita Kenyange, (MSc in Immunology and Clinical Microbiology), Tom Okade (Degree in Environmental Science and Public Health) and two newly qualified doctors, Michael Ssuuna and Paul Nsobani. All destined to become great leaders in their chosen fields. 

Finally, no one is excluded. We never cease to be amazed by the compassionate and inclusive thinking which makes St Francis de Sales such an inspirational school.  Every child has a disability and receives a bespoke, caring education from teachers, who themselves have overcome disabilities to become examples of what ca be achieved when people believe in your potential. 

Thank you for all your support.  None of this would be possible without your trust in our charity.  We hope you can share in the joy we have experienced first-hand.  We visit our projects every 18 months and are happy to take donors with us. 

Richard Bircher

HUGS Chair.    

Sunday 4 February 2024

First Hand

Tomorrow I will arrive in Kampala, to prepare for the HUGS Trustees trip to visit our schools and projects.  These trips are an essential part of the work of HUGS as they provide us with confidence that projects are being completed with honesty and care.  We can in turn give  first hand feedback to you, our donors.  Invariably we see the commitment and personal sacrifice made by our partners in Uganda.  Our school leaders, administrators, teachers, and development workers use the resources you donate, to make long lasting, positive change in the lives of so many children.  They make magic happen.

I am reminded that everything substantial we do, is made up of tiny victories.  Every wall starts with a brick, every well starts with a hole and every child who we sponsor has a first day in at school.  Here is Vivian, who in 2018 was identified as a child in need by Sister Noeline. She has this week completed her primary education with top marks in every subject and is looking for a sponsor to help her continue to learn in secondary school.  Primary school ‘top marks’ was an impossible objective before help was offered. Her single mother was too poor to afford a uniform and illness stopped her attending state school most days.

I found a letter from Vivian. Even at aged 8 she was motivated. ‘How are you? Here I am fine. My name is Nabbaale Vivian.  Live in Wakiso.I am in primary three I am promoted to Primary four. When I grow up in future, I will be a nun… I wish you a nice day, may god bless you Merry Christmas and a Happy New year.’

On this trip we will visit the New Hope School, where construction is ongoing with pace.  We will see the beautiful St Francis de Sales Special Needs School, with its new intake of 100 children, who would never have been able to attend school without the Director, Sebastian’s support.  We will also visit our two Girls secondary Schools, Asili and Dokolo, both in areas where less than 1:10 girls benefit from a secondary education.  These girls are the elite in both academic abilities and personal motivation.

We will update you as our trip unfolds.  Thank you for having faith and trust in the work of HUGS. If any donor would like any specific reassurances or would like to know anything about our projects please email us on

Thank you for your continued support.

Richard Bircher

Tuesday 26 December 2023

Christmas Capital


At this time of year, we are encouraged to reflect.  Many of us have good reason to be thankful for the security in our lives and take time out to consider those who have so little that their basic human existence is challenged every day. Here is Ssebowa, a young boy who lives in the Kosovo slum in Kampala, who has the good fortune to be known to a Ugandan community group called CEFOVID that works in partnership with HUGS.

The soiled piece of foam, he stands in front of, is his bed. His house, and his neighbour’s houses, are frequently flooded by polluted water, and everyone’s beds are soaked. Rather than being a place of comfort and safety his bed is a health hazard.

Through your generosity, HUGS is going to change his future. Capitalising on his family’s ingenuity and drive we are going to invest in his Human Capital.  Human Capital is defined as the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate throughout their lives, enabling them to realise there potential.  HUGS is investing in a clean water supply for his family, an income for his mother and a quality education at a school outside the city, where he will receive two nutritious meals a day and have a safe place to learn and play. (below is the new school with construction paused for Christmas)

The effect of Human Capital is obvious. It is expressed in many ways.  The most powerful is the ability to refuse to be dominated.  One day Ssebowa will be able to stand tall and say, ‘That’s not good enough, I am worth more than that’,  ‘I have a right to be respected’,  ‘I have choice and I will do what is best for me and my loved ones’.

For now, Ssebowa is delighted with the new mattress which the Mulchand Foundation kindly donated, through HUGS, to him and 100 other families.  It came with a pillow and a waterproof cover. He’s also lucky enough to have an older brother to help him carry it home.

Thank you for your kindness and generosity. Here are a few smiles to warm your heart during this reflective time of year.
Merry Christmas. 
Richard Bircher
HUGS Chair

Friday 7 July 2023

Helping a Community from every angle

I'd like to introduce you to the students on the Two Tone Garment Making Course. 15 single mothers who live in the Kosovo slum in Kampala.  They have children and they have a drive to improve their lives. They commonly experience violence, extreme poverty and loss of incomes as their homes are flooded every time it rains. They face illness, from drinking contaminated water and their children struggle to attend school. And here they are, about to sit their examinations, to be awarded a nationally recognised qualification which will springboard them to a life of improved security, income and opportunity.  Thanks to the HUGS donors who have supported their education.

I'd like to introduce you to their children. When families, who live in the slum, receive an improved income their number one priority is to invest their children's education. Most families struggle to pay for books pens and school uniform. Many children do not own a pair of shoes. Through the dedicated work of a local Ugandan NGO (CEFOVID) and working with an exceptional, caring UK organisation called Jamies legacy 100 children now receive a bursary to attend school and they love it. Thanks to the HUGS donors who have supported this initiative.

Children from the slum, miss about a month of school a year due to illness, mostly caught fro drinking filthy water. HUGS has been working with generous individuals and Rotary International to supply clean water points to the poorest households.  We are progressing a project to fit 200 new public standpipes which will be used by 10,000 people, 6,500 are school aged children.

Finally I'd like to introduce you to the builders who are constructing the next HUGS school. They have completed the foundations and now are building the classroom walls.  300 of the Kosovo slum children will attend this school. It is north of Kampala in the countryside, boarded by woods, farmland and valleys. It is a place where children will have space to play, peace to learn and security to flourish.  It has 8 acres of land to grow food, to feed hungry minds and growing bodies.

HUGS is able to help improve this community from every angle, only because of the generous support of our donors. If anyone would like to help any of these projects further please donate here or contact me on

Thank you
Richard Bircher. HUGS Chair

Tuesday 2 May 2023

Ground Breaking

Building work has started on our new school. Situated in Busunju, an hour’s drive north of Kampala, the New Kosovo Hope School will dramatically and irreversibly improve the lives of the 300 primary school children who will be cared for there.

The children currently dwell in one of Kampala’s slums, where living is blighted by disease, violence, and poverty.  Most children have never seen the countryside and have never felt the joy of running freely in fresh air or drinking water which is safe.  Many have never been to school and aspirations are often as low as their opportunities.  We are about to change this.  Other HUGS schools have witnessed miraculous things that happen when children, with a lust for life, are given three square meals a day, books to read and safe places to play.  We look forward to sharing these stories with you.

Currently, the new school is all but large holes in the ground. To build a three-storey school, we need resilient foundations.  Not only in terms of steel and concrete but also in terms of partnership and respect.  We are blessed to have so many people we can call friends to help develop the new school. The Ugandan NGO (which will run the school) is headed by a warm-hearted man, with boundless energy called Ronald Kamoga. He is supported by a trustworthy and high-quality building company and our thoughtful and kind architect, Elly Wamala.  We give thanks to our funders, Sanjay and Venika, who are generous and caring and a long list of other supporters: Julie and Alec from Jamie's Legacy, Suky from Two-Tone and Lydia from REACH. Together we form a strong foundation which will ensure the new school will stand tall, be strong and always successful.

HUGS is a vibrant charity because of the input from so many people.  This year we are holding our Annual General meeting (AGM) in public. If anyone would like to attend it is starting at 19:30 tomorrow, 3rd of May, in Stockport.  Please message us if you’d like to attend.  You can also join us remotely.  We are only able to do our work because of the support given by so many people.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 697 992 2609

Passcode: HUGS

Thank You

Richard Bircher (Chair HUGS)

Friday 10 March 2023

Peter Mount. Small conversations to Big Actions

I have sad news. On Sunday 5th of March, the Founder of HUGS, a good friend to many of us and an inspirational leader Peter Mount died unexpectedly at home.  His departure leaves us with heavy hearts, reflecting on the how one man managed to change the lives of so many people. He championed the welfare of the vulnerable and leaves a profound legacy.

May his loving soul rest in peace.

Peter was an expert at turning small conversations into big action. This is how HUGS started. When Father John Kyazze was a visiting priest at Peter’s parish, in Stockport, they struck up a friendship and a powerful partnership.  One evening the conversation turned to the village where Father John was born and the plight of 9 children who were unable to go attend school because their families were too poor.  Peter organised a fund raiser, and within weeks the children’s education was secured.  In true ‘Peter style’, he didn’t stop there, and within two years Father John’s family had donated land and Peter raised funds for the first HUGS school to be constructed. St Zoes, (named after Father Johns mother) is now a beautiful, loving, safe school for 350 primary and secondary students. Its exam results are outstanding; its pupils lives improved by Peter’s passion and commitment. 

20 years later HUGS has built 7 schools, sponsored 100s of students and improved the education of 1000s.

The last school project, Peter championed was a special needs school, St Francis de Sales, in Jinja. The school has been open for 14 months and cares for some of the most vulnerable children in Ugandan society.  Where previously many of the children with disability were hidden away, receiving no education, they are now bright, loud, and carefree with a hunger to learn.  St Francis de Sales is still to be completed and Peter’s vision was for it to become a centre of excellence in Eastern Uganda in how to educate children who are unable to attend mainstream school.  Peter’s family have asked for this school to be the beneficiary of the Peter Mount Memorial fund. If you would like to contribute, please do so here.

Thank you for everyone who has offered their condolences. Thank you for your kind words. 

Saturday 11 February 2023

Turning silent withdrawal into confidence and opportunity

This year just under a million children in Uganda sat the Primary Leaving Examination to mark the end of their studies at Primary School. This chart shows the performance of students with disabilities who took the exam in the Jinja locality. Children who are deaf score the lowest grades.

Jinja is where our special needs school, St Francis de Sales (SFDS) is situated, where half the pupils have marked hearing loss.  These results do not come as a surprise to the teachers who work there.  Hearing loss inevitably leads to profound communication difficulties, withdrawal, loss of confidence and social marginalisation unless special services are put in place from a pre-school age.  With the support our donors provide, HUGS is helping the teachers at St Francis de Sales stop the process of silent withdrawal and turn it into confidence and opportunity. If you are ever lucky enough to visit the school, you will see immediately how the children are far from marginalised; they brim with enthusiasm and demand attention.  

However, we have a problem. SFDS was designed to educate ‘differently abled’ children to year 4, where after we hoped they would be able to enter mainstream primary school. Disappointingly, not a single child has been accepted into a local primary school. A mixture of prejudice and poor resources has created an insurmountable barrier to bright, capable deaf children continuing their education.  Our solution is to double the side of the school and offer all 7 years of primary education.  We believe, it will not be long until these children are scoring the ‘Division 1’ passed they deserve. 

HUGS is proud to have Dr Emma Stapleton as a Trustee. She is a consultant ENT surgeon at Central Manchester Hospital, and an expert at restoring hearing.  She is leading a project to provide audiology and basic ear care at the school in order to screen for and treat hearing loss. In partnership with experts from Greater Manchester we hope this service will grow in time.

If you would like to become involved with any part of this project in 2023 please make contact.  Every contribution makes a difference, and your involvement states loudly that these children are important.

Tuesday 29 November 2022

Social Capital and Generosity

There is a saying ‘Some people are so poor, all they have is money’.

As we enter the Christmas period it is good to reflect on the importance of the people around us and note the affection, support and care we provide each other.  Development workers and economists call this ‘Social Capital’ and describe it as the wealth we receive from our social interactions: the relationships we trust, the people we co-operate with and the reciprocal favours we provide.

In Uganda, where most families we support have little financial wealth, we observe they belong to extensive networks of family and friends who prioritise community participation in order to be there for each other in times of difficulty.  This was embodied on one of our trips when we asked an old man how many grandchildren he had. The answer was “between 20 and 30”.  No exact figure was given because so many children had been welcomed into his family network as crisis hit their own. There was no formal adoption, no paperwork, just an acceptance that community works best when there is generosity, and that generosity extends to raising someone else’s child.

Families rely on each other and their community

The children who HUGS sponsor benefit from the generosity of our donors. We use money because that’s transferable across 6500 miles but this only happens because HUGS is a charity which is entwined with social networks within Uganda. We respond to the calls of our trusted representatives and facilitate teachers, carers, mothers to help each other.  

Like Albert who is helping parents learn sign language or Molly, a teacher, who has a passion for helping children with disabilities enjoy dance, or Ronald who, owning wellington boots, carries children home when the slum is flooded.

Please take a look at our current fund raiser, the HUGS Christmas Craft and Gift Auction. This year we have included many items made by people in Uganda at a range of prices which acknowledges that many people in the UK currently face financial constraints. Every penny we raise will help primary aged children at the Little Shepherd School.

Thank you for being a vital part of our social network. You offer us your social capital, and we, in turn share this with vulnerable children in Uganda.  

Friday 4 November 2022

Destined to help shape a better future for Uganda

The HUGS sponsorship scheme has supported 100s of children and young adults to attend school, college and university.  There are many stories of success. 

There are now engineers, doctors, nurses, town planners, teachers (and other professionals) who are contributing to their communities in creative ways because of their HUGS-sponsored education. During our trip to Uganda, in September, we met many of these bright people. It was obvious they are destined to help shape a better future for Uganda.

This photo shows the HUGS Chair with (Left to Right), Sebastian Waiswa, Head teacher of St Frances de Sale School, (about to embark on a Diploma in Special Needs Education), Yayeri Basira (newly qualified Social Worker, and blind herself), Doreen Namujjuzi (in her second year of a degree in Information Technology) and Ronald Kawauki (newly qualified Optometrist who now gives his time for free to assess children with sight loss at our schools). All have been part of our Sponsorship programme.


Education ignites passion. This is Rita Kenyange who is just about to sit her 'finals' for a degree in Medical Lab Technology.  She was so inspired by the work of global health experts during the COVID pandemic that she intends to continue to an MSc in Biomedical Technology and Genetic Engineering.

Education helps each and every household.  HUGS has teamed up with CEFOVID, a grassroots development NGO in the Kosovo slum, Kampala, to help train local young single mothers in tailoring.  After a six month fully funded course, they graduate with National Ugandan recognised qualifications which they can use to certify their skills anywhere in the country.  We have helped ensure every one of them, on completion, receive a ‘start up pack’ including material, thread, needles and a pedal driven sewing machine.

It's no surprise that the commonest use of their improved income, is to pay for their children’s education. 

Thank you to each and every one of our donors for supporting our work.  You are helping us change the lives of 1000s of individuals. If you know anyone who would like to contribute to our sponsorship programme, and help pay for the education of a primary school child (£150 a year), secondary school (£300 a year) or university (£500-1000) please invite them to make contact.

Friday 16 September 2022

Seeing First hand. The importance of visiting projects.

Later this month 4 HUGS trustees will be travelling to Uganda.  This is an important part of our work as it builds trust and respect with our partners in Uganda.  We asked our Ugandan friends, if they wanted us to bring gifts or essential items.  The reply highlights the reality of the lives of children we have committed to support. 

‘Yes, please can you bring pants for girls, flip-flops and tops for them to wear, aged 5-11.’ It pulls at your heart.

We also travel with bags of sports kits, and equipment, kindly donated from many teams and individuals.  We may donate educational equipment, IT hardware or medical supplies, but it’s the sight of a new football which receives the greatest cheers from the children.

Our visits are important to ensure projects have progressed as planned and funds have been spent wisely.  On this trip we will see first-hand, St Francis de Sales School, The Kosovo Slum projects, Good Shepherd, Little Shepherd and St Zoe’s schools.  We do this to give you, our generous donors, confidence that we have used your donations well to help the most vulnerable people.

Its worth reflecting what we have achieved this year so far:

We have sponsored the school and university fees for 83 students, 10 are from a Kampala slum.

St Francis de Sales School

  • Completed two buildings for teachers’ accommodation house
  • Built a new Kitchen with a fuel-efficient stove
  • Purchased 8 acres of land for food cultivation
  • Provided sports equipment, a sports field and disability aids for children
  • Helped with staff costs, to get the school set up
  • Stocked the treatment room and provided an emergency medical fund
  • Helped 6 very poor families create a small industry to generate money for school fees

Kosovo Education project

  • Purchased 10 acres of land, produced architects plans for a new school and prepared the land for building work
  • Worked with Rotary to provide 200 new water connections
  • Supported textiles courses for single mothers to get qualifications to generate income to pay school fees families to pay school fees

Asili Girls School

  • Provided IT hardware and power supply for a new computer lab

Good Shephard School

  • Purchased 3 acre of land to grow additional food

Dokolo Girls Secondary School

  • Provided funds to build a new Kitchen with fuel efficient stove and solar lighting

Little Shepherd School

  • Purchased 2 acres of land to grow additional food
  • Built a new boys latrine

Along the way we have had the privilege to provide humanitarian aid for children who had desperate needs. One has had a new prosthetic leg, another emergency eye treatment to prevent blindness and urgent surgery to repair dreadful birth injuries. 

None of this would have been possible, without the kindness and generosity of our donors.  Thank you for your support. We will review all of these projects and ensure we give you an honest appraisal of what we find.  

Tuesday 2 August 2022

Education and Resilience

Education, resilience and tragic life events

There is an undeniable truth: once a child receives an education, it cannot be taken away from them. Education profoundly changes how a child views the world and gives them new ways to interacts it.  It is a key ingredient for future opportunity and lasts a lifetime.  It can be shared with family and passed onto future generations.

According to the world bank, people in developing countries have improved chances of recovering from tragic life events if they have been to school. In Uganda, such events are frequent, unexpected and severe, and throw hard working families back into the jaws of poverty time and time again.

Last year, HUGS sponsored a new water connection for a poor family in the Kosovo slum, Kampala. They have been able to make a small profit selling clean water to their neighbours, and chose to spend the extra cash on their children's education.

Last week, sadly, they experienced a tragic life event; a house fire destroyed everything they own. Though they are now experiencing levels of destitution most of us can hardly imagine, the fire hasn't changed their children's education.  They are still able to read and write and there is hope their learning will provide them with the ability to find new ways to achieve a better life for all the family.

Last month, Sebastian, our trusted representatives from St Francis de Sales School, met a girl aged 12.  Her tragic life event was a near fatal infection which lead to the amputation of her left leg, below the knee, and loss of several of her fingers.  She was doing well at school. She made a simple request: to have help to return to education. We are pleased to tell you she is now enrolled in the HUGS sponsorship programme.  As is a 4 year old boy who recently came to our attention because he has such severe cataracts he can only see objects inches from his face.
Our school heads know the life changing effects of education and the importance of this gift for children from the most precarious backgrounds, but face a constant battle to keep exactly those children in class. They report currently about half of all families are unable to pay the full amount of their child's school fees, because of cost of living rises.  The children are desperate to learn and the teachers passionate to help, so our schools continue to educate with reduced income and shoulder the financial risk. 
The teachers at Little Shephard School
This is where you help. With your generous donations we are able to provide substantial support to our schools.  You have funded projects which reduce costs, increase income, grow more food, house more teachers and protect more children.  In return teachers continue to change the future for vulnerable children by giving them an education, a life long resilience and the cognitive skills to bounce back from catastrophic life events.

To quote a saying from Malcolm Forbes: Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.


Tuesday 5 July 2022

Stop and Applaud Teachers

Stop for a second and think about the last time you learned something. Learning is essential for living, especially in our rapidly changing and unpredictable world.  That’s why in this HUGS update I’d like to applaud teachers. Teacher like Albert, working at Good Shepherd School who completed a HUGS sponsored Diploma in Special Needs Education.

HUGS works with so many dedicated, creative (and often exhausted) teachers.  Teaching in Uganda has many challenges. Currently, many are finding their pay is inadequate in the face of rapid cost of living rises and many state employed teachers are turning away from their profession. In response a widely publicised quote from the Uganda Minister of Education states ‘You are not in the teaching profession to make a living out of it. You have to set up other ventures like piggery and poultry’. Tough words for any hard pressed educator, who regularly works in front of a class of 100 children, to hear.

 HUGS has always prioritised the welfare of teachers.  We provide funds to create safe accommodation, support higher professional development courses and do everything possible to provide staff with well resources learning environments. Above all we show respect. 

This week HUGS transferred funds for a new Computer Lab at the Asili Girls Secondary School. Teaching staff will soon be able to use state of the art equipment, to make a huge difference to the employability of the young women they teach. This investment follows the funds you raised for the Asili science lab.  We are improving working conditions and promoting job satisfaction.

The Teaching accommodation at St Francis de Sales Special Needs School is complete and we have provided funds to make the classrooms exciting, colourful and vibrant places to work in.

Also this week we have provided money for the Good Shepherd School to purchase 3 acres of land, so that teachers and pupils can grow their own nutritious food. This picture shows Sebastian one of our school directors planting a field of beans.

None of this would be possible without the generosity and long standing support from you, our donors.  We are always looking for new support, so if you know anyone who wants to be involved please contact us. You never know, they may learn something new.

Richard Bircher. HUGS Chair

Tuesday 31 May 2022

 The power of Generosity

There are some children who are exposed to such risks and vulnerability that it is difficult to know how best to help them.  The Kampala slum area of Kosovo is a place where children face enormous challenges. Their frequent experience of illness, food shortage and violence frustrates efforts to achieve a reasonable standard of living as they are repeatedly throw them back into destitution.  There is no capacity to absorb these knocks, as many families are refugees from neighbouring countries, headed by single parents and have little resources. Many children succumb to crime or become disabled, Many girls are forced into marriages at a young age and enter a life of servitude.

Children having a single daily meal provided by CEFOVID

HUGS has been working with an NGO in the Kosovo slum called CEFOVID (Community Empowerment for Village Development).  They have a dream, which we are overjoyed to be able to help turn into a reality. Together we will be building a new school. It will be in the country, north of Kampala and provide a space where 300 primary aged children, from the slum, will be able to run, play and grown without threat of violence. It will provide nutritious food and quality education.  It will remove children from risk and harm, and give them improved chances to develop self-worth and capitalise on future opportunity. 

This has only been possible because of the power of generosity from a private UK donor,  and the support of three small UK charities who share our vision.  Bury Africa Outreach, Friends of two Tone and Jamie's Legacy. Together we already sponsor 100 of the Kosovo children to attend school in Kampala, (though the quality of these schools is not ideal).  Once our new school is competed, they will be first to be asked to attend, guaranteeing the school an initial income and improving sustainability.

The school will have:

  • 10 acres of land
  • 8 classrooms
  • Performance hall
  • Dormitory
  • Play equipment and sports field
  • Teachers accommodation
  • Solar lighting, clean water and good food

Levelling land at St Francis de Sales School

We also give our thanks to Cameron Taylor who completed a mammoth cycle ride, around Ireland to raise all the necessary funds to develop the sports pitches at St Francis de Sales Special Needs School.  Physical activity for children who are ‘differently abled’ is an essential ingredient to help then gain confidence, health and learn to work and be accepted by others.  St Francis de Sales in a beautify school, and is flourishing thanks to the you, the HUGS supporters, and the power of your generosity.

Tuesday 3 May 2022


Good Food, Good Education
It is not possible to teach a hungry child. This is known by all teachers in all parts of the world, even the UK. The BBC published an article in March, featuring a school in Edinburgh were every Monday, after work, staff would shop to replenish the school food bank. Parents were given food so their children didnt have to came to school hungry.

Accessing nutritious food for students has always been a challenge for all the HUGS sponsored schools, and is currently more difficult as global food prices rise. All our schools are situated in poor areas and have children who board.  Head teachers know when nutritious meals are provided regularly, physical growth, educational achievement and joy of life all rapidly improve. This has been seen most dramatically in the children who started at St Francis de Sales Special Needs School in January. Children with disabilities are often so undervalued they are the last to receive any good quality food at home, but thanks to your donations these kids are growing, learning and laughing.

The children at Good Shepherd School (also a special needs) grow with such strength, stamina and confidence that prior to COVID lockdown they entered the inter-school football tournament. Initially jeered for being the under-dogs, they secured victory game after game. The school sports teacher, said good food (and a team made up of 50% children with ADHD) was the secret of sporting success. Every spare square meter of Good Shepherd School is used to produce food; fruit, chickens, pigs, fish, beans, bananas and eggs.

HUGS, with your generous support has allowed St Francis de sales School to recently buy a further 8 acres of land and we are raising funds to help Good Shepherd acquire two more (£5000, if you know anyone who could contribute). The second year of coffee crop at Little Shepherd School is being harvested and along side the banana and beans they planted is helping may disadvantaged children afford a place in school and have the health to learn.  Our new school for the children from the Kosovo Slum, is going to be developed on 10 acres, as these children are the hungriest we have ever cared for.
As global food prices rise, the UN and FAO predict a deepening inequality in entitlement and access to food. We are working hard to protect our children. 

Thank you for your help and support.

Saturday 26 March 2022

Where you live and your child's Education

Where you live has a profound influence on your child’s education and prospects in life.  Every parent wants the best for their child, and choosing a good school is part of this.  However if you live in a slum in Uganda you have no choice.  Your child, has to walk to school, along some of the most dangerous streets in the world, and attend a class of over 100 chi
ldren, many unwell or hungry.  You get taught, if your teacher turns up, but commonly they are absent.
Children born in the slums of the world need a new way of living, a new way of learning: new schools.

Proposed new school

Helping Uganda Schools has forged a new close relationship with a Ugandan NGO called Community Empowerment for Village Development, who work in the KosOvo slum in Kampala.  33,000 live in this square kilometer, two thirds are children; 20% do not go to school.

We’d like to change this and have agreed to help build a new primary school, in the country, where 100s of children can live, run free, have regular nutritious food and enjoy the taste of safe uncontaminated water.  Most children, who live in KosOvo, remarkably, never step outside the slum before age 14. Their expectations of life are formed by their restricted realities.

This project is a huge undertaking, and one which HUGS is committed to for many years to come.  The impact is going to be significant.  We are targeting help at some of the most disadvantaged children in Africa.

We have teamed up with a group of small charities; Jamie’s legacy, Bury Africa Outreach and Friends of Two Tone, to work together to make the school a reality.  We are working with the generosity of a new donor, who has joined our cause with a compassion and commitment that will never be forgotten.  The task ahead of us, is not just to construct the buildings but, also to safeguard future sustainability.  This will be challenging as many parents are destitute and cannot afford even small school fees. It is paramount we consider income generation, farming, food sufficiency, water catchment and child sponsorship.

Working together

If anyone wants to be involved in this amazing project, please email the HUGS team If you know of anyone with a generous heart who wants to leave a lasting legacy and to donate to help us, please encourage them to make contact.

All skills are welcome.

Sunday 30 January 2022

Schools are open

Schools Re-open

The past few weeks has been momentous. Our children have returned to school after the long Ugandan COVID lockdown; and they have returned in droves, exceeding all our expectations and dispelling many of our worries.

Thank you to everyone who has supported HUGS over the last year and has helped provide necessary aid and home education to so many of our pupils.  You have extended a life-line to so many vulnerable children.

Our schools now face renewed challenges. All report financial difficulties, as bank accounts have been run down to empty to maintain school buildings or keeping staff on small stipends to retain their skills ready for when the classrooms will be full again. The Asili Girls Secondary School has more girls enrolled than ever before, and have asked us to help provide desks, beds and places for the girls to sleep.  The dormitory at Little Shephard school, which HUGS funded last year, is now full to capacity as 100 more than usual students have enrolled.  The HUGS schools provide a quality education which is often better than other local schools it comes as no surprise that parents have chosen to bring their children to our gates.  

Amongst these children are those with special needs and disabilities.  It gives us great joy to announce our second Special Needs School, St Francis de Sales, officially opened this week. This school has been funded entirely by HUGS donations and cares for primary aged children with sensory and physically challenged lives. This short video sums up our emotions. Faced with such enormous hurdles in life, one of our new pupils is overjoyed to be at school for the first time. What a difference an education is going to make to his life.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support.

We would like to pass this thanks to Bob Blundell who stepped down as a Trustee of HUGS this month.  His dedication to the charity has been unwavering and he has made an enormous difference to many children’s lives. His wise words and encouragement has helped us achieve so much. Thank you, Bob.

If you would like to make a donation to help buy desks, beds, shoes, sports equipment or books please visit our Website.

Saturday 27 November 2021


The beginning of December marks the run up to Christmas. A time when we give thanks for what we have and offer gifts to others.  We have so much to be thankful for, despite the bitterly hard year of 2021.

The donors to HUGS have been generous and caring. They have helped continue to transform the lives of people who are less fortunate, in Uganda. This year we have completed a new school for children with hearing loss, continues to sponsor our university students, provide clean water to families in the Kosovo Slum and organise a home tuition service to the children who attend the HUGS sponsored schools. Each one of these is a gift, made by people in one part of the world, to people in another, who are largely unknown to our supporters.  This makes me reflect that the greatest gift our donors bestow on HUGS is Trust.  You trust us to make wise decisions, to ensure we make your donations count and that we take care to support projects which help people from the neediest communities. For this gift of trust, we thank you.

This month we gave the go ahead to start constructing the staff accommodation at St Francis de Sales School. This is an important step to ensuring sustainability.  Teachers become part of a school community, and if they live on school grounds, stay in post for longer, enjoy a better quality of life and interact with children who board in wonderfully positive and unexpected ways.  Building sports teams, stimulating an interest in literature and firing-up enquiring minds. A teacher’s life in Uganda is tough. Wages are low, and hours are long, and teachers not only teach, but also act as social workers, care givers and important role models of the value of education. It is a privilege to have the oppo

rtunity to help a teacher.

If you are looking for a Christmas gift for someone you love, please look at our HUGS Christmas auction at  We have received many donations of gifts which we hope you will find of interest.  Last year our Christmas auction paid for school equipment, desks and chairs at St Francis de sales School.  This year we are raising money for water connections in the Kosovo slum, to improve children’s health and access to education.  The children in the slum are from the poorest families we have helped.  Our video tells you more.

Or you can donate directly HERE to this project and sponsor your own water connection, to help vulnerable families 

I hope you have a peaceful and loving Christmas.

Thank you for your support.

Richard Bircher

Chair Helping Uganda Schools