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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 hugs.chair@gmail.com. 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. www.helpingugandaschools.org


Saturday, 27 November 2021

GIFTS

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 https://www.jumblebee.co.uk/HUGSChristmasauction2021.  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


Saturday, 30 October 2021

If Children can’t come to school, School must come to them.

We bring you stories of resourcefulness and success, despite the dark times of restrictions on education in Uganda.  Unfortunately, schools in Uganda remain closed and the 1500 children who attend our supported schools are, in the main, left without access to learning. However, following the example of other charities we have offered financial support to provide home schooling. If children can’t come to school, then school must come to them.  

We now have a network of school principals and teachers using the shade of trees, backyards and private homes to tutor small groups of children.  Using curriculum books bought by HUGS, the children can continue their journey of mastering reading and writing.  Much thanks to the tenacity and perseverance of our trusted representatives and the amazing teaching staff.



Times are still very hard for the young of Uganda. Opportunities for employment are poor and access to clean water and good food is limited to so many.  It makes the HUGS investment of 20 new clean water pipes into the Kosovo Slum, in Kampala all the more important.  Over 600 people, (two thirds children) will now be able to avoid drinking contaminated water and enjoy a better standard of health, improving access to education.

Charity Auction

Of course, all of this work is only possible because of your kind donations. If you want to help, please take a look at our HUGS art auction. Earlier this year, artists were asked to submit works to the title ‘What does sound look like to you’.  Dr Emma Stapleton, a HUGS Trustee and ENT specialist in Manchester, has arranged for copies of the winning entrants (shown here) to be permanently displayed in the ‘Peter Mount’ Building of the Manchester Royal Infirmary. We had many entrants including three artists who are deaf (one is also an inspirational musician). The pictures are beautiful. Proceeds from the auction will fund specialist equipment for St Francis de Sales School, specifically to help children with hearing loss.  Bids can be placed over a week from Sunday 31st of October 9 (tomorrow) to Sunday 7th November at 5pm. Please take a look and take part or donate via our website.

https://www.jumblebee.co.uk/artauctionforkidsinuganda



Writing for pleasure

Finally, one small story to warm your heart. The children with disabilities in Jinja and some from the Kosovo slum have started writing, as ‘pen-pals’ to the children at the Caistor Church Primary School, Lincolnshire. It is hoped it will foster improved writing skills and, who knows, life-long friendships. 

There are so many ways to help. If you want to be more involved in our work, please make contact. 

 


Tuesday, 5 October 2021

HOME EDUCATION? A possibility

Last month the President of Uganda announced schools would remain closed at least until January; leaving millions with no reasonable way to receiving an education.  HUGS sponsored schools care for over 1000 children, many who live in remote rural locations or are from families where resources are scarce and no one, who can read or write, is on hand to offer advice. HUGS has continued to respond, to do something to mitigate against this ongoing loss of human potential.



We have been in discussion with other charities facing identical challenges, and all of us are concerned many children, especially girls, may not return to education. We have found a way to supply home schooling workbooks, but without teacher support their impact may be minimal.  A fellow charity ‘Fields of Life’ have found a recipe which offers hope: a pencil, a workbook, a teacher visit to the community once a week, and a solar light (to read by at night).  This low-level support also offers a lifeline for teachers, who have been without income for months.

HUGS is working to ensure when children do return to school, facilities are ready for them to pick up on essential learning.  We have been busy fund raising for St Francis de Sales (our school for children with disabilities and hearing loss) with an art competition and auction. ‘What does Sound look like to you’ was the title. We had 13 entrants, including two from artists with hearing loss, and one from a sensory supported class of children in Manchester, all who have cochlear implants. They conceptualised sound as soft woollen pompoms. The artists have generously donated their pictures to be auctioned in November. We will share details next month.


Thank you to everyone who continues to support HUGS. Your generosity is needed more than ever, and your kindness is appreciated by so many. 

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Since the beginning of August, Ugandan schools have remained closed, to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Millions of children are not receiving an education, including those enrolled in the 6 Schools, HUGS supports. Our new school for deaf and disabled children, St Frances de Sales School, was not able to open as intended.  

 However, universities remain open, as classes are mostly on-line and our sponsored higher education students are progressing well.  We are pleased to tell you, that the pupils who managed to sit their end of Primary or O level exams before schools closed have done exceptionally well, despite all the interruptions.  They’re amazing children.

Empty dormitories

This time, lockdown has not included a ban on transportation and access to jobs, so the economic impact on poor families is not as great. However, there is substantial hardship.  Carmel Dowling, one of the HUGS Trustees, is currently in Lira, on a 10 week placement to help teach at the Asili Girls School.  She tells us how many schools are facing difficulties retaining teachers (there is no furlough scheme) and how there is no income to cover running costs.  However, many schools are using what little funds they have to supply reading and writing equipment for children to continue learning at home.  Ronald in the KosOvo slum, is expanding the ‘Joy of Learning project’ where small groups of children (mostly illiterate) come together to listen to stories together, which is catalyses an interest in learning to read.

There is very little access to laptops or tablets, and where they are available, access to the internet is prohibitively expensive. However, many people do have mobile phones, and we have heard accounts of teachers recording lessons and sending sound files to children who live in remote areas.

HUGS has responded by continuing to invest in infrastructure to improve education when the schools re-open.  The water catchment at Little Shepherd School is completed, The Bullocks at Good Shepherd School are fattening well and St Frances de Sales School is now stocked with equipment waiting for their first pupils to arrive.  The coffee harvest at Little Shepherd school turned a good profit this year. Also, we are building a network of interested people to help fund clean water connections to families living in the Kosovo slum in Kampala.  Twenty new water pipes, (giving clean water to 300 children and 200 adults) are soon to be laid.  The overall project will be 200 new water connections. Whether schools are open or not, a child cannot learn if they are unwell from drinking contaminated water.

Thank you for everyone’s support. If any supporters would like to play a more active role in any of our projects, please contact us on hugstrustees@gmail.com


Tuesday, 6 July 2021

 

If you can’t communicate, no one will listen.

Next Month, St Francis de Sales School opens. Its first intake will be 50 students who have profound hearing loss and other disabilities. Thank you to everyone who has contributed; you will be making a life changing difference to so many children.

Life is tough for deaf children in Uganda. Any disability can lead to marginalisation, and prejudice.  For a deaf child this means they do not learn to talk, or lip read.  Many are never enrolled in school; they miss the opportunity to be taught to read and write or learn sign language.  They grow up without a meaningful way to communicate. If you can’t communicate, no one will listen.  Despite normal intelligence, and huge potential the only future for many is subsistence farming or labouring, abuse or forced child marriage.  Economists call this a ‘gap’ in Human Capital; we call it a travesty.

Our new school specifically cares for preschool and early primary years students. Helping them when they are young enough, to be able to break open the neural pathways through which lifelong communicate will flow. It will instil self-belief and give hope.

Good quality education requires good quality teachers and equipment.  HUGS is hosting a special art competition and auction this July/August.  ‘What does sound look like to you?’ We are challenging artists to visually interpret sound.  Our judges are a senior curator from Manchester Art Gallery, and leaders in Ear Nose and Throat and Audiology in the UK. The winners will form a permanent display in the Peter Mount, ENT centre in the Central Manchester Hospital, and one piece of art will hang in the foyer at St Frances de Sales School.  If you are an artist, could this be your work?

If you know of anyone who would like to enter please email hugs.chair@gmail.com


Water for all

HUGS donors have raised £3300 to pay for 25 new water connections in the KosOvo slum in Kampala.  On average children miss a month of schooling every year due to illness. Working with a local grassroots community group we hope to bolster children’s chances by providing disease free water, a meal a day and access to the classroom.  This is an exciting new project, which helps some of the poorest families in Uganda.
Thank you for your support







Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Trusted Generous and Well Connected


Trusted, Generous and Well Connected



We would like to tell you a story of how one man can make such a difference to the lives of some of the poorest people living in Uganda.

Ronald Kamoga was born in the KosOvo slum in Kampala. A place where 35,000 people are crowded together in makeshift homes with no access to clean water or reliable sanitation. The slum sits on low lying land and when it rains the water can rise to 2 feet in depth. A quarter of families are headed by single mothers as families are abandoned by their men. Half the people in KosOvo are children, supported by an average household income of $25 a week (of which $5 is spent on healthcare). When children do go to school, they miss almost a month of education every year because they are too sick to attend. Child protection issues are so common, there is no capacity to address even a fraction of concerns. Its a brutal, unforgiving place to raise a child.

Ronald's parents taught him the importance of education and by aged 21 he has started university. He went on the become a hospital administrator but felt he wasn't doing enough for the people he lived along side for so many years during his childhood.

Ronald now head a charitable organisation (CEFOVID) working in the centre of the slum, providing many of the services we take for granted. he makes a difference because he is trusted, generous and well connected. The Trustees of HUGS met him a year ago (on ZOOM) and agreed to help improve the lives of the children he cares for.


There are four main projects:
1. Provide clean water (it costs £130 to install a tap which serves 25 people)
2. Help children attend a school (it costs £200 per year, including a daily meal)
3. Education courses in health, nutrition and income generation
4. Microfinance loans scheme

Ronald uses his knowledge and expertise to simply 'do what he can'. He offers hope.  A Partnership with HUGS, means we can raise funds for him to 'do more than he could'. Every penny our supporters donate is used to help make a difference to vulnerable people. We couldn't do this without people like Ronald.  If your like to help him, please contact us (hugstrustees@gmail.com) to discuss more.

Make the most of being trusted, generous and well connected.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Direct connections between giving and making a difference.

Every time a supporter of Helping Uganda Schools makes a donation they can be sure their support helps the lives of people who are constrained by lack of opportunity, poverty or oppression.  In a complicated world, where it is hard to know how best to respond to global challenges and gross inequality, HUGS provides a direct connection between those who have, and those that have not. 100% of donor’s money is spent on projects to improve the lives of others and none is spent on administration.

 
Here are pictures which show, some of the ways you have helped HUGS to make a difference over the last year through these direct connections.

If you have any friends, colleagues, or relatives who you think would like to support us, please forward this message and ask them to consider making a donation.


The beautiful new special needs school, St Francis de Sales, opens in August specifically to provide educating to young children with hearing loss.


HUGS Provides a meal a day and basic equipment, such as shoes, for children in the KosOvo slum in Kampala. Without your support they would not be able to attend school.


Teacher training and science equipment for the pupils at the Asili Girls School in Lira.  Better education in science means better further jobs and emancipated women.


New bed frames for the Girls dormitory at Little Shepherd School.  Girls education is improved with residential facilities, restful safe sleep and ability to study by electric light. 


The pre-school children at Little Shepherd School queue for lunch whilst their headmaster, Felix, celebrates the birth of his son. HUGS sponsored Felix's higher education.


Helping people with disability. Yayeeri, a student without sight, graduates as a social worker, sponsored by HUGS donations. Meanwhile the bullocks at Good Shepherd Special Needs School, fatten ready for market. A HUGS funded income generation project.

Thank you for all your continued support
The HUGS Team

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Happy Easter. 

In this update we bring you the good news that Ugandan children are returning to school, and report on how HUGs is helping them catch up.

Last week school children in Uganda sat their O level, A level and end of Primary School exams. They have done so well to cram a year of education into 5 months.  Teachers at the 6 HUGS schools (you have helped build and support) have been working under immense pressure, with less resources than usual, to get their students ready for their exams, whilst at the same time supporting the poorest families maintain a livelihood. Over the next few months, as COVID restrictions are lifted, all other pupils will be able to return to school in staged year groups. All have missed 12 months of education and most will be re-entering the school year that was halted in 2020. 


Your support has provided school equipment, sportswear, science equipment, clean water, staff training, a safe place to sleep and given hope to so many.  This year, for the first time HUGS is sponsoring children from the KosOvo slum in Kampala. These children come from families which have never been able to afford education. The first purchase for each, is a pair of shoes, socks, and a school bag. Thank you.




Education matters, and when coupled with ambition and a focus on future employment, is transformative. The Head Mistress of the Asili Girls School, Lira, Sister Veronica Akello, is an inspiration. She has been working with HUGS to write a joint proposal for the funding of a computer training lab at her school, to offer O level ICT, and provide night classes for school dropouts and young mothers. She is acutely aware that girls and young women, without the ability to be self-sufficient and earn a decent income, are at grave risk of abuse, forced marriage and teenage pregnancy. To her the connection is obvious and most importantly reversible.  

IT skills are key for employment by reputable companies and essential for successful self-employment. The Service Sector in Uganda creates more jobs and contributes more to the country’s economy than agriculture and industry, so it makes sense for HUGS to support this initiative.  The project cost is £20,000. We are looking for wealthy or corporate sponsors to join us. If you know anyone who may be interested, please contact Richard our charity chair. 

Finally, we want to tell you about a truly inspirational student. We have agreed to sponsor Rosemary Nabirye through her Degree in Social Work at Makerere University.  HUGS Helped her through her A levels in 2018 then lost contact. What makes her so exceptional is she is blind. Her passion is to help improve the lives of blind children. Thank you for supporting HUGS, you make the world a better place in so many ways.

Happy Easter

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Books and Bullocks

In this update, we share a story about the Bullock Farm at Good Shepherd Special Needs School and invite you to celebrate World Book Day with HUGS.


World Book Day, Thursday 4th of March, is when we celebrate the immense power of books to entertain, inform and change the world.  Books are places where children’s ideas are born and nurtured, and ideas drive development.  Helping Uganda Schools gives opportunity for impoverished children to not only learn the skills to access other people’s ideas, but the ability to follow through on their own. 

When HUGS Trustees last visited Uganda we had the privilege of talking to students who have been helped by your generous support. They were full of ideas.

Books are in short supply in Uganda. HUGS organised for a truck of books to be delivered to the Asili Girls School 5 years ago, and they are still inspiring the children to this day. We’d like to do more. We are talking to another UK charity which delivers large numbers of used books to Ugandan schools. Books which we would otherwise throw away. (The UK discards approximately 30 million books a year).

Can you help us celebrate World Book Day and raise funds for this project?

Please consider giving a book to a friend, neighbour or colleague, with our HUGS World Book Day card inside, inviting them to donate to HUGS.  Down Load HERE

                           


You can turn your unwanted books into a donation.  This link HERE takes you to a book collection company who will donate money to HUGS. If you want to ‘declutter’ in lockdown and don’t know what to do with your unwanted books, please use this service.

Finally, please share our 'School Books and Equipment' appeal page, (follow this LINK) so others may make a donation.

Bullocks at School


Good Shepherd Special Needs School, in Fort Portal this week welcomed nine new residents. Young bullocks. Thanks to generous donations, HUGS has funded the development of a small farm where bullocks are ‘brought on’ to increase their value for market. The farm is owned and managed by Good Shepherd School and all profits will be used for the benefit of students. HUGS always tries to help schools become financially independent and reduce dependency on donations. This is key to fostering independent decision making and ensuring organisational confidence. Thank you for everyone’s support.


Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Ready for when schools re-open

It has been almost a year since schools in Uganda closed. Only children taking their end of Primary or O and A level exams have been allowed to return.  Out of the 57 children HUGS sponsors 18 are now in class.  All are doing well, and we predict 9 will complete primary school, 7 will take their O level and 3 A level exams. 

However, we have grave concerns regarding the remaining 39. Our children are sponsored because their access to education is restricted due to poverty or disability. We do not know how many will be able to return.  Working with our amazing schools and hard-working Trusted Representatives we are making plans to ensure everything is ready when the school doors reopen.  HUGS has been asked to provide new educational equipment. Can you help? Carmel and Bob (two of the HUGS Trustees) are raising funds using a scheme that welcomes your participation.  Run/walk 5K, Pay £5, Nominate 5. Its motivating and gives purpose… two things we all need during our current lockdown.


This video explains more.  Please help.


To contribute to this fund, follow this LINK

We are pleased to inform you two construction projects are close to completion.  The Dormitory at Little Shepherd School and St Francis de Sales School are looking great.  Both projects have been funded through generous donations. Thank you. We partnered with a charity ‘Wilmslow Wells for Africa’ to build a colossal rainwater catchment system at St Francis de Sales School.  The pictures below show the 4.5m cube tank, dug amazingly by hand. 

               



      

We are also partnering with ‘Bury Africa Outreach’ and ‘Friends of Two Tone’ on a new education project; to help children from the KosOvo slums in Kampala go to school for the first time.  Children in slums face some of the most unsurmountable barriers to education, and experience violence, hunger and marginalisation on a daily basis.  The three charities have agreed to fund 30 children to attend school for the next 5 years including one free meal a day.  Ronald Kamoga from CEFOVID, the charity we are working alongside in KosOvo, tells us the first task is to buy socks and shoes for the children. 

And finally, some good news. Three of our sponsored university students have gained professional qualifications. Faith Nankinga is now a doctor, Bridget Katusable is a midwife and Bazira Yayeeri is a Social Worker.  They send their gratitude to every HUGS supporter.

Thank you.





Monday, 28 December 2020

Sharing out the HUGS


The trustees of Helping Uganda Schools, at this time of year, receive many messages of warmth and gratitude from Uganda. We want to share these with our supporters. We recognise this year has been hard for many people and our freedom to hold the people who are dearest to us has been limited.  Please accept a portion of this appreciation; a little HUG if you like.

Sebastian, from St. Francis de Sale School, on Christmas day wrote how our 'countless sacrifices of time and money do not go unnoticed.'  Faith our sponsored newly qualified doctor remarked how we have 'fulfilled her life'  and Sr Evangelista sends 'continued blessings'. There have been messages of thanks from current students, qualified ex-sponsored students and teachers. 

HUGS has had a remarkable year. Our supporters helped fund the construction of a girls dormitory at the Little Shepherd School and a new special needs school in Jinja. They helped us respond with compassion to the terrible additional impoverishment caused by COVID. HUGS diverted funds from education to humanitarian aid. We fed many vulnerable children, secured the livelihoods for school staff and helped keep our schools safe and maintained. 

There are aways challenges, and next year we look forward to:
  • Welcoming full classrooms back in February. Some children have effectively missed a year of education and we fear many girls will not return.
  • Sponsoring a new cohort of children from the KosOvo slum area of Kampala. This is a new project.
  • Providing teaching equipment, for St Francis de Sales School
  • Kitting out the new dormitory for Little Shepherd School
  • Maintaining our commitment to our current sponsored students

As always, help from our supporters with any of these projects is welcomed. If anyone wants to play a greater role email us at hugstrustees@gmail.com

Finally on a lighter note, with the help of two of our Ugandan headmistresses we have written a new year/festive period family quiz. You can play it online or face to face. Please pass it on, tweet, facebook or email. If people enjoy it they are invited to make a donation. Every little helps.

QUIZ LINK HERE

Thank you to all our supporters. We are only able to help Uganda Schools because you help us.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Three amazing women and our Christmas School Equipment Appeal



Hello from the HUGS team, we hope each and every one of our supporters is well and safe during these difficult times.

In this months' Blog we bring you news about three amazing women HUGS have supported through their education and tell you about our Christmas Schools Equipment Appeal (see link below)

SchoolEquipmentAppeal

Education in Uganda has been suspended for 6 months because of the pandemic, and only recently were final year 'candidate' classes allowed to return to school.  Children in Primary 7 classes, and those studying O' and A' levels will soon be taking their exams, whilst other children remain at home, with little hope of home tuition.  This will affect girls more than boys.  Their comparative poor social standing is likely to mean Uganda will see more girls drop out of school, be married before the age of 16 or be pregnant when still children themselves.  With this in mind, this picture offers hope.  Here are the O' Level students from the Asili Girls School in Lira, using their brand new Chemistry equipment, which HUGS funded, for the first time in preparation for their exams.  Qualifications in Science, allow girls access to many jobs and facilitate independent living.



Three amazing Women

It gives us great pleasure to inform HUGS supporters that Faith Nakinga has completed Medical School and is soon to be Dr Nakinga.  Bridget Katusabe has qualified as a midwife and Dr Grace Nannyondo, has passed her Specialist training and is now a consultant in Gynaecology and Obstetrics. Despite the upheaval of this last year, these woman have not let the pandemic stop them from achieving their goals.  All have described future aspirations to be working with marginalised, poor people and aim to make a difference to the lives of others.  Bridget says she is 'excited to send HUGS a picture of the first baby she delivers as a fully qualified midwife.'




HUGS Christmas Schools Equipment Appeal

As you will be aware, we are nearing the completion of our 7th school, St Francis de Sales School in Jinja. We want to help provide teaching equipment.


Our Christmas Appeal is to help us raise £4000 for desks, chairs, books, pens, art equipment and for the poorest children, socks, shoes and a school bag.  We are trying a new form of fund raising.  The HUGS Christmas Craft Auction.  This is online between Friday 27th of November and Sunday 6th of December. Local Artists have kindly donated beautiful gifts (ceramics, paintings, embroidery, chocolate and more) which would make ideal presents. Please take a look and please place a bid.

You can view the auction here HUGSChistmasAuction and start to place bids from next Friday.

There is an opportunity to donate directly towards this fund:

                             virginmoneygiving.com/fund/HUGSChristmasEquipment

Please share this link with friends and family. If you use social media then please tweet, share, blog and poke.

Many thanks for all your continued support

The HUGS Trustees