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Friday, 23 December 2011

A Child is Born

I often remember a message I first heard from a very successful salesman. It went like this '.. the more people I meet the more sales I find I can make'. I think the same applies to opportunities. Meeting lots of people so often can lead to opportunities one would never have thought of.

HUGS worked with Sr. Theresa of the Banyateresa Catholic Sisters to build Good Shepherd Special Needs School.
The same order of sisters run the Maternity Hospital at Fort Portal and it has been possible to help a number of volunteers to spend time there over the last two years. The hospital with about 230 beds and 5 doctors and 7 midwifes delivers between 2000 and 3000 babies each year. We are looking to develop a twinning arrangement with St Mary's Hospital, part of the Central Manchester University Hospitals Trust where about 7000 babies will be delivered next year.

Ruth and Jill who are both Paediatric Research nurses have just returned from Fort Portal and found it a wonderful experience. More later but these pictures were taken at Virika Hospital

The same group of Ugandan friends introduced HUGS to the Lira Babies Home, an orphanage in one of the most troubled areas of Northern Uganda. Sr Demmy usually has between 30 and 50 babies to look after and the generosity of HUGS supporters means that we have been able to fund about 20% of the running costs last year and next year. It costs about £15000 per year to cover all the costs.
My picture shows Sr Demmy with twins taken into the orphanage in the last few days. They are about one day old in the picture.

Although HIV/Aids has reduced very substantially in Uganda is is still a very serious killer. The Lira Babies home looks after many children who have inherited this condition.

 The picture show a group of helpers at Lira with 5 HIV youngsters.

We have had some great letters of thanks from our Uganda (and Rwanda) friends who want to tell you how much they appreciate the efforts and the money donated.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Christmas Thank You from Good Shepherd to all Donors

Thank you very much for your letter and Asobora Christmas book which made us very happy.  The Teachers and Children were so happy to read the stories of Asobora, Busobozi and Magezi, they made them laugh their heads off!  We take this opportunity to thank Denise for her tireless effort and initiative she has put in this project.

Please send all our thanks to the many donors who have helped to make our school such a wonderful and happy place.



Good Shepherd Special Needs School is the first school of its kind in Western Uganda.  It started in 2008 with 40 Children, this year 2011 the enrolment has increased to 120, and 11 Teachers.  Categories we have in this school:                               
  • Visual speech and hearing impairments
  • Physical impairment
  • Learning problems and autism
  • Communication problems
  • Medical issues
  • Hyperactivity

The school has taken its first few hesitant steps on the road to changing attitudes towards disability and setting itself up to educate or act as role model for the wider community. The Vivid examples are the photos I have sent you, Stella has down syndrome and severe intellectual impairment.  As in African culture Parents tend to neglect children with disabilities take it as a curse, so the story of Stella was very sad when the neighbours told me that her Parents keep her locked in the room, they don't want anybody to see her! 

 When I visited the family, Stella was a miserable child, she started crying when she saw me.  I pasuaded the parents and she started at our school, now is a happy girl is being equipped with practical skills and her Parents are also happy.

The same story with Derrick who can neither talk nor speak, he was also a miserable Child but now is happy as you see him in the picture.

We have a variety of activities as singing, dancing, drama, sports etc to make the children happy and feel at home.  More so they improve academically as they are given special, individual attention in class.  Again we thank you very much for your generosity and kindness towards these vulnerable children, because without your contribution we couldn't have managed as most parents are reluctant to pay school fees in time or  not to pay at all as they take these children to be useless, but we have tried our level best to sensitize and we shall continue as some have started coming up with positive attitude.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

An Appeal for Water

Blog readers will know that the 2010 drought and the effect of climate change and inflation caused our schools major problems this year. Money which was intended to fund buildings and infrastructure had to be used to buy water and food at up to 3 times the normal price.
So although we have completed two water catchment projects at £34000 over the period since 2004 they have not been enough.
If the rain does not come them water catchment is of limited value.
We have therefore decided to fund a hydrological survey to see if we could find a water table somewhere below ground on our St Zoe site.
The results arrived on November 29th and are really encouraging.
We have been told that we can obtain 1500 litres per hour by sinking a borehole of about 105 metres deep, sink a pump which is solar powered, and store the water in a large overhead tank so that is can gravity feed to the school buildings. If we run the system for 5 to 10 hours a day this will be sufficient for everyone on the site. It will be a major breakthrough and of enormous vale.
It will cost about £28,000 and we are starting a special appeal to fund this.

It would be great if some of our donors could help. This can be done by;
  • send a cheque to HUGS at 6 The Ceal Compstall Stockport SK6 5LQ
  • direct bank transfer to our account. For security please email me for details although you will find that it is the same as your standing order.
  • Or click HERE and use the Virgin Money Giving  (they charge us about 2.5%)
The picture shows the various elements of the project. 

Monday, 21 November 2011

Mosquito Nets

We have written before about the importance of mosquito nets and HUGS has funded the supply of these to our schools. But children still die of malaria. Sr. Demmy who runs the Lira Babies home has had a particularly tough time and she will be getting nets very soon.

But sometimes the well intentioned efforts of donors has a really perverse effect. Like the American celebrity who raised 1 million nets for the Central African republic. Fine while they lasted but all the local businesses making nets were put out of business.

And this story from Democratic Republic of Congo goes one step further .

Many lakeside villages in the mineral-rich province suffer from a high rate of malaria-induced child mortality. Sleeping inside these nets is the best way to avoid mosquito bites and malaria. But this laudable action created a human and ecological catastrophe.
An international medical NGO provided mosquito nets to a poor village in the Upemba region of Katanga.
As the mosquito nets were free and abundant, fisherman used them as fishing nets. Given their extremely fine mesh, not only were fish removed from the lake but all other forms of micro-fauna and micro-flora too. The lake gradually became covered with a black scum. Villagers lost their sources of livelihood and food supply.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The HUGS Christmas Book

HUGS has been busy working in partnership with Stockport College to produce a lovely Children’s Christmas Book. The story is quirky and the illustrations delightful.
It tells the story of Asobora the monkey finding out about Christmas and lighting up the Christmas Tree in Uganda.

There is a serious purpose also, as all the profits from the sale of the books will go to continue the work of the charity. The book would make a lovely present and cost £6.99
To order email

Thursday, 10 November 2011

From our own Correspondent on Radio 4

If you can get BBC Ipayer Radio programmes on your computer it really is worth listening to the 10th November edition of From our own Correspondent which was at 11.00 am.
It starts with the poster slogan we all saw during our last visit. Prosperity for All was the message.
And then to hear the message about the cost of a matoke banana rising from 100 to 300 Uganda shillings each. Matoke is really a major part of the staple diet of everyone. Petrol costs up by 30% and you begin to see the sort of pressures which the people have been having.

It is getting a little better now that the rate of exchange has dropped back about 10% but don't think our eurozone problems stop at Europe. They have had the costs increases driven by exchange rates but also those caused by drought too. That's why this year HUGS has had to divert funds from capital projects and spend the money helping to provide food and water for the children. But we think that we will be back on programme this year and complete our secondary and vocational schools and also build new latrines and hopefully start the water project mentioned in the last blog. Thanks for all your continuous help.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Climate change and water

Climatic changes are happening in Uganda. On the one hand there is more erratic rainfall in the March to June rainy season, bringing drought and reductions in crop yields and plant varieties; on the other hand the rainfall, especially in the later rains towards the end of the year, is reported as coming in more intense and destructive downpours, bringing floods, landslides and soil erosion.

Over the last 100 years the frequency of drought has been increasing quite dramatically and a recent Oxfam Report on Climate Change in Uganda provides ample evidence that this is a real issue. The report is called Turning Up the Heat and can be read on the Oxfam site.

Most of us thought that the recent drought in Somalia and Kenya had not reached as far as our schools in Uganda. Sadly that was not the case. 2011 has been a really tough year and for the first time since St Zoe’s opened 10 years ago we have had to put back spend on infrastructure just to make sure that the children has food and water. This has often had to be purchased at prices several times greater than the normal prices.

In 2003 we had our first Water Harvesting project thanks to the support of the Bishop family and other donors. A part of this was the creation of a 250,000 litre underground storage tank with roof rainfall catchment. This was very successful but we had to augment the plan with a major extension and more tanks in 2010.

Water catchment is great if there is any rain to catch. This year there has been very little. Fortunately we have strong evidence that there is a very good water supply about 120 metres below ground level on land we purchased last year as part of our farm which feeds the children.

Now we are going to commission a hydrological survey to make absolutely sure that this is true before we invest up to £30,000 in sinking the borehole, installing the pumps which are solar powered, and erecting a large overhead storage tank so that the school buildings can be gravity fed.

This blog will keep you informed. Our Trustees decided that we will need to start a special appeal to help to fund this work but lets wait until we are sure that the water is there before we ask for help. We should know this in the next few weeks.

Monday, 24 October 2011

HUGS 10th Anniversary Dinner

October 23rd was a bit special. Fr John had come all the way from Nairobi to join 145 HUGS supporters to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the opening of St Zoes Primary School.

Gorton Monastery, a World Heritage Site in Manchester was the venue. And what a venue. If you haven't seen it then do take time out to visit.

We had a wonderful evening and the speeches were quite short!

Sorry the picture had to be me. All the others were rather dark and would not look good.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Tragedy in the Congo

Some of you may have heard about the recent tragedy in the Congo and one of great supporters has told me a little about it;

Dear all,
my friend James is a Drama professor and specialises in using Drama to help people in war and conflict. he has recently been working in the DR Congo and the recent massacre killed the people he has been working closely with - see message below. They are raising money to support the bereaved families who have lost their only wage earner. please support this and pass it on to anyone who might be interested

Your can read more about it at the web site


Those who lost their lives were doing what we are doing. Bringing education to the people in a country which is notorious for the killings over so many years.

It would be wonderful if we could help and HUGS Trustees will be thinking what we might be able to do to help.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Sorry for the Silence

Isn't it odd. Knowing that I would not be able to work for a while as I recuperated from my knee operation I had visions of all the thousands of things I would have time to do from home. Just shows how little I knew about the "getting better" process. Very little energy and no real ability to sit and concentrate on anything for long. And this blog got a bit neglected!

I will be much more understanding if the future!

Our volunteer Rebecca has posted loads of pictures of her12 months in Uganda on her picture site and it you want to take a look it is at http://rebeccanixon.traveljournal.net/gallery/

The serious drought and massive inflation in Uganda has been a major challenge to all our schools and we have delayed some building work in order to make sure that the children and staff have food and water. We have already had two substantial water catchment projects at St Zoes but now we have pretty certain knowledge of underground water on land we now own we may have reason the start a new project to drill down and find ways of pumping it to the school.

The Lira Babies home has been visited by some wealthy and generous Americans who are keen to fund an extension of this wonderful orphanage. Sarah Woodward, niece of Trustee Chris Bishop has also raised a lot of money in New Zealand for the same cause and HUGS is helping with the money transfers.

The builder of our secondary and vocational blocks at St Zoes has proved to be really dreadful and although he has been paid a lot of money he disappeared from the site in April and has not been seen since. This is quite a setback but over time I believe we can recover and refinance the completion of the work by other means.

Things like this remind me how lucky we are!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Progress at St Kizito's near Kampala

We have not told our supporters much about St Kizito's Primary School outside Kampala and which HUGS supported for many years.

Our visit in 2009 was disappointing. Lots of happy children but the state of the school, lack of classroom stimulus and dangerous school site was not good. We met the school PTA but found that it was still being run by a wonderful retired head teacher and not by active parents.
 The school was not progressing. We felt that we might be doing no real good and did not support the school for two years or more.

When Denise and Peter met the new head teacher, Immaculate, in early 2010 she told us that the parents were not engaged and simply said to her "why worry, the overseas donors will provide"

We said we would only support if we could see real change in this attitude.

The following dialogue has been constructed to tell you where the school is at today.

“Immaculate tell us your first impressions of St. Kizito’s Preparatory School Makenke.”
 Immy:  I am so happy that St. Kizito’s was founded; I am also impressed by the good buildings and donors who help us so much.

Question:​ Does the school set standards for honesty and integrity?
Immy:​ Yes, I think St. Kizito’s has continued with that vision of her founders the church of Gayaza Parish that is to aim at very high moral standards.

Question: What about academic achievements? How are you doing?
Immy:​ Well, for academic we enjoy the services of a hard working and caring academic staff and this is not empty praise. There is always academic work to be done in form of homework practical exercise, tests and exams making St. Kizito’s a real fountain of a primary leaver.

Question:​ How about on the side of the power house, the meals, we hear the staple food is not bread and butter nor “rice and peas” but posho and beans, tell us about that.
Immy:​ Well just look at me and may be look at other children, the decision will be yours on whether we are well fed or not, but as you see our skins are shining and very smooth.

Immy:​I wish to thank our parents, our teachers and helping Uganda schools (HUGS) of for the tremendous work they have done which has benefited and continues to benefit many children of Uganda and even beyond.

​Great thanks to Rev. Fr. Mayinja Francis who helps the school in a special way

Immaculate is making a big difference. The new PTA is helping, parents are more involved and the parish is helping with many items. The school is cleaner and safer and there is evidence of stimulus for the children within the classrooms. We have given the school some money to help them with the problems caused by the drought and dreadful harvests in 2011.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Getting a new Knee

As we get older visits to doctors and to hospitals get rather more frequent. My first bit of big surgery was in September 2002. It was to replace a wear-damaged hip with a new one. It all went well and I was out of hospital in 7 days. But this blog entry is being written 9 years later and this time it as a new knee. What a difference. I arrived at 7 a.m and the operation started at 8.30 a.m. It done under a spinal nerve block epidural. No full anaesthetic this time so a much quicker and easier recovery. I could have chosen to be awake and hear all the sawing and hammering but was a bit too cowardly for that. All over by just after 10 a.m. and back to the ward by 12.00. No longer do we rest for days. Best practice is to get mobilized quickly and I took the first rather wobbly steps with a frame only 4 hours later.
Next morning the physio team started and I was onto crutches and taking short walks around the ward.

I was discharged after two and a half days and not 7. Better outcomes. Better patient recovery and mobilization. Much safer surgery. And dramatically less costly. And the nice thing so often forgotten is that it is the NHS surgeons and doctors who are leading these innovations.
We really have the best service in the world and this was verified recently by the USA Commonwealth Institute, which compares the best systems in developed countries. Our national challenge is how to protect it at a time when we cannot really afford the £100Bn national bill.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Good Shepherd and Outreach

Thanks to the help of Pat Scampion and lot of friends the Good Shepherd Outreach programme  for families and for children with disability and who love in the Fort Portal area, has now started. 
Here is  what Sr. Theresa says about it.

The major aim of this programme is to respond to the challenges as a result of changing the situation in which Children with severe disabilities are facing, more especially in their families and communities, where they are neglected and biased. Most Parents to have such children they take it as a curse, so these children become victims of hatred and they are mistreated, above all not taken to school.

First and foremost, we have started with home visits and see the needs of these Children so that they can benefit from this programme. We teach, sensitize and provide Guidance and Counselling as most Parents are biased.  We shall all also give Mothers skill training, for example, weaving, and tailoring so as to have sources of earning income which will reduce poverty. 

We shall also transport Children to School for special activities such as massage, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, teach Children various games which will help them move and stimulate the nerves.  Teach Mothers who have Children with weak bones and limbs exercises.


  • To create awareness on prevention of diseases such as kwashiorkor by teaching them balanced diet, lack of a balanced diet has caused disabilities in most children.
  • Provide Guidance and Counselling to Parents/Guardians
  • Transport Children to the School for special activities
  • To teach and sensitize parents and youth to build capacity of mutual respect towards Children with disabilities so that they can feel they are worth human being and useful citizens with a future. Also provide democracy, equality and respect for human rights to these vulnerable children and a model for community attitudes towards children with disabilities.
  • To teach, sensitize and guide them on how to care and love their children to make them happy and feel they are loved and cared for, this will help such children to become useful people.
  • To sensitize the parents and guardians the value and importance of their Children in future when they are helped, more especially equipping them with practical skill so that they can be independent citizens with a future.
  • Parents living with HIV need to booster their immunity with body building foods and a proper balanced diet too.
  • To train leaders from those parents and youth so as to train other people in the community, so that there is continuity of what we have taught them.
  • Provide a model Community which can sustain itself in providing basic needs and balanced life in their families.  Parents more especially Mothers acquiring skills, to identify resources around them and put them at good use, which will reduce poverty. And also to have sources of earning income in different projects for their survival and continuity of what we are going to teach them.
Written by Sr. Theresa Abigaba 

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Rebecca's End of Term and end of year in Uganda

Hello, I hope you are all well; so this is a blog giving all the news of second term at St Zoe as well as the extra out of school things I have been doing around Kagoma and Mubende.

Firstly I am going to start with my trip to Nakayima with Pat, Musumba (Andrew’s sons) and Mike (the builder at Kisimbiri). So on the morning of the 15th of May we decided to go to the famous tree ‘with breasts’ at the top of Mubende. We set off at midday (a brilliant time for me to be out in the sun) and walked about a Km along the road before we managed to get a taxi. We then arrived in Mubende, bought some water and off we went. It was pretty steep; in fact it was ridiculously steep-Musumba Pat and I were literally dripping sweat the whole way up! Mike however, who we have now discovered is incredibly fit and is also a good 10 years older than the three of us, was running up the hill and not sweating a drop!! When we got to the top (2km later-it was some good exercise!) the view was incredible! I couldn’t believe quite how far we could see, the ‘tree with breasts’ was also lovely, although I failed to see ‘the breasts’, I did however see a plentiful amount of ‘spiritual’ ladies smoking on their pipes, with their ‘herbs’ and such like. The walk back down turned into a bit of a run as a storm brewed and threatened to pelt us with rain. We then walked all the way back through Mubende to get a taxi home. That evening when we told Andrew where we had been he could not believe that we had walked and insisted that we had got a boda, until I showed him proof by photos! It was a really lovely day.

Mr Magara’s Wedding
On the 14th of May, Naomi and I attended our first Ugandan Wedding, the wedding of Mr Magara one of the primary teachers at St Zoe. We headed to Mubende just after midday in our Mubende dresses; the ceremony was held in Mubende Parish Church. There was lots of singing and the bride looked beautiful. The music and choir were all from Kagoma, so one of our Senior 1 boys was on the drums and Mama Musumba was singing in the choir. It was a lovely ceremony. I was being a photographer for the ceremony, which was good although I kept getting worried because I am so tall (especially in comparison to the Baganda people-who are not renowned for their height) that I was blocking all the other people taking photos! After the ceremony there were more photos taken, we then headed back to Kagoma to the after ceremony-by which time it was nearly dark-it was a long ceremony! We arrived at Mr Magara’s home and got given some much needed matooke and beef. We then went to take seats in the main tents near the stage area, where the bride and groom and close family sit. As soon as we sat down the Dj said…’I would like to welcome the two muzungus that have joined us and ask them to give us a dance’…just excellent-good job Uganda has taught me how to enjoy dancing! So in front of around 300 people we got up into the spotlight and started dancing, it was a bit awkward to be honest so I went and got the bride to have a dance with us-which solved the awkwardness perfectly; Naomi then went and got the groom and we all had a lovely public dance! Then there were the usual Ugandan ceremonials: long speeches, giving of gifts and cutting and eating of the cake. It was a good and interesting day and by the end we were absolutely knackered!

On the 17th of May I took a trip into the village off a track from Kyenda; I went with Mutambi (one of Andrew’s sons) and Henry (Paul’s youngest brother) on a boda. It was great; once again I saw some incredible views and a completely different part of the area I have been living in. I also really enjoy boda journeys-there is nothing better than riding through the villages on a motorcycle, seeing beautiful scenery in the glorious sun! (Probably not what my mother would want to here). Anyway, we went to visit Patricia, Mutambi’s friend; she is in Senior 2 at Kitenga Secondary School (in Kyenda). Her family were so happy to have visitors, especially a muzungu! We got milk and bananas and then matooke and beef; one thing that I have learnt from Ugandans is how hospitable they are and how they share every little they have-they are very kind. When we left we had a family photo and then we boda’d back through the village and through Kyenda. Halfway between Kyenda and St Zoe we ran out of fuel, so Henry (in his fleece, in the very hot sunshine) turned around with the motorcycle and headed back to Kyenda at a run! I sat on a log in the shade, much to the surprise of some of the primary teachers who were walking along the road to the market and were rather surprised to find me sitting there!  Once again I had a really lovely day!

This term I did my first bit of cycling at Kagoma; I don’t know why I didn’t start earlier really, because at home I cycle nearly every day and really enjoy it. So on a Sunday in June some time I did my first cycle to Mubende, I got up at 6:30, walked to school, collected the bike and off I went. I had a lovely time and 1hr50 later I arrived back, red-faced and sweating a lot-much to the surprise of the teachers who didn’t even believe I could cycle! I really enjoyed the cycle so went again, another weekend and managed to reduce my time by 10 minutes to 1hr40. I then decided to go with Mr Mijumbi, (well he decided to go with me) being my competitive self I was like ‘lets have a race’ I felt fairly certain I would be able to keep up with him as he’s a big guy and by Ugandan standards he’s a little plump. What I didn’t take into account in my estimations is the fact that because he is heavier than me he zoomed past me on all the down hills (50% of the journey!). I wasn’t used to this phenomenon, as usually my 76kg takes me swiftly past all the slender Ugandan men on their bicycles-Mr Mijumbi found it hilarious!  We got to Mubende at the same time and stopped at the supermarket for a rest, a bottle of water each and we shared a bar of chocolate (always the downfall in my cycling exercise plans-there is chocolate at the destination) then off we went again. I was pushing myself pretty hard in order to keep up with him and there is this one killer hill that’s lengthy as well as steep and usually I have to get off and walk it for a good two minutes, but no this time I cycled on. Then at the trading centre Katabalanga Mr Mijumbi passed me and said ‘I will see you at St Zoe’ I had to cycle so hard to keep him in sight! I even had to pedal my hardest down hill!! I came up through Kakooka, saying bad words under my breath because I was so knackered; meanwhile all the villagers were saying their usual morning greetings! I arrived back about 30 seconds after Mr Mijumbi much to his surprise-I was looking horrifically discoloured, this I am assured of because as I came round the final corner to Mr Mijumbi, the night guard exclaimed ‘oh my god’ at the sight of me!! We completed our cycle in 1hr23 a good 17 minutes off what I thought was a fairly good time!

On the 3rd of July I went and visited Pat, one of Andrews sons and then Paul’s youngest brother at their schools fro their visitation days with Paul. I got to know all of Andrew’s sons really well during the Easter holidays and Henry, Paul’s brother as well. I had a lovely time and it is always great to visit different schools and different parts of Uganda. Once again I got a brilliant boda ride. I took chocolate and bread for each of the boys and Pat was so happy to be visited! After we had visited the two schools we travelled back to Masaka and visited Paul’s family’s home. We hadn’t eaten all day and they gave us an amazing meal and as always when you visit a home you look at all the photos. I had a really great day.

The weekend of the 16th
On the weekend of the 16th I went with a load of the villagers plus some of the Secondary kids to compete in Mubende, in a netball and football tournament; we travelled their squished in the back of a pick up cheering away with whistles…(probably not the safest way to travel). When we got there we went to church for a bit then we watched a football match, sat on logs eating banana pancakes and ice cream. Then a netball team turned up so we went to the pitch, I was a sub-I would say I am average at best in netball, so I think my main aim was to scare the opposite team-a 5ft11 muzungu in her addidas shorts is fairly intimidating when your teams averaging 5ft7! We annihilated the other netball team 9-0!!I did my bit with the rest of Kagoma villagers running around cheering (literally) and getting very sunburnt (also literally).Then we went to the football pitch and watched our Kagoma boys-we lost one 2-0 and won one 4-2. After the matches we went and sat around one of the back of the old buildings and Mama Nassali-one of the village ladies who lives near Kisimbiri, whipped out a pot of Irish potatoes and Ground Nut sauce for us all which was lovely. Then it was time to go home, so this time I decided to go in the second pick up load, mainly because it would be less crammed; so I ended up in the truck with all the footballers. I was at the front of the pick up getting blasted with wind which was great and we arrived back in Kagoma at around 6ish with all of the village men singing a song that involved a line saying ‘the mzungus team!’ – in Luganda of course-it was an amazing experience and I had such a good day. Paul and I then went straight from the pickup to the dance I had arranged at school as a reward for the end of the football and netball tournament we had at school. It was really good and the students had a great time. The final of the football and netball tournaments had been on the previous day and were also brilliant, the two underdogs of both sports came up and won, which was brilliant. All the children were there supporting with their drums cheering away and I may have just maybe cried half way through the football match because I was so happy….I quickly vacated the pitch for a short while.

The drought
The water shortage has been really bad this term, the primary and secondary children in the last few weeks had to take it in turns to collect water from Kisimbiri in the mornings and evenings for the cooking; which was disrupting school time. Term has ended now and we just about managed to cope with the shortage. I am also very worried about all the local people, Kyenda is facing serious water problems and people are travelling all the way to the boreholes here in Kagoma to get water, because all there boreholes have dried up.

(Note from Peter; This is getting serious and we are researching the best course of action. We may need some additional donor help with this)

Exams and other things at school
The mid term and end of term exams went well, with the maths improvement making me very proud and happy, especially in Senior 2. In the Mid term exams 15 people passed with 50% or above and in the End of term exams 31 passed! So I was incredibly proud of all of them and created Mathematics Improvement and Excellence Certificates to give out in our leaving assembly.
We also had the prefect’s handover party on the 12th June, following a week of campaigns, which was really good and rather interesting. We had some unexpected candidates and some passionate speeches. So it was a good day.

Visitation Day
For Visitation Day there was lots of preparation, the day before the new block was swept and all week the children not properly dressed in their school uniform had been slashing the compound as a punishment. So the compound was lovely and clean and then all the secondary desks were moved to the new block. On the day I wasn’t actually there as some of the other volunteers were flying back to the UK so all us volunteers went to Kampala to say goodbye. I was told that the parent turnout was really good and they had a very good meeting with entertainment in the form of drama acts from the secondary children and dancing and singing from the primary section. Also for the preparations for visitation day I did some display work with Primary 6 and 7, which looked lovely displayed on the walls, then when I came back on the Monday after the VD, Primary 1, 2 and 5 had also made displays-I was really, really happy to see this as usually that kind of display would not be done.

Primary Children
So I had my last lessons with all the primary children, Pre-Primary’s last lesson was quite eventful: as always I was trying to think of ways to entertain them for a full hour and then remembered I had 2 packs of metallic balloons at home. So I brought them into school told all the children to go outside and whipped out the balloons. It was mayhem-‘MADAM, MADAM, M E, ME AND ME, MADAM’ accompanied by 45 pairs of tiny little arms scrabbling to reach me, thank God I am tall! In the end they all got a balloon and ran around the football pitch chasing after them, leaving me to sit and watch blissfully (once we had all established that I had no more balloons).

Primary 3’s last lesson was brilliant, I collected up all the remaining stickers I had at Kisimbiri (which was a surprisingly large amount) and then I went into class, gave myself a gold star, sang ‘Don’t Matter’ by Akon and then started the mini talent show. They were great, they all wanted to sing and dance and they were so enthusiastic and loud, I was really impressed! Nearly everyone had a sticker by the end of the lesson. Naomi also asked me if we had been singing Shakira (Waka Waka) because when she was standing at the road waiting for a taxi she had been able to hear it!-we had! They also gave me remixes! It was fantastic. We then all went outside for photos which was nice.

The leaving party
We had our leaving party on Thursday which was lovely, we got gifts from the school- I got a big, black elephant-which I was very happy with and then Naomi got a lovely wooden carving. I also gave out my Sports certificates and Mathematics certificates, which went down really well. Then it was speech time, I went first and started to cry fairly instantly; I had prepared for this luckily and had already written it out in full, so Paul read it for me. We then had a last dance with the students, which was great!

So, we are currently in Kampala enjoying the last few days before Naomi leaves on the 8th. I am going to Masaka with Paul on the 5th to a celebration for his brother being ordained a deacon, so I am really excited about that as well, as I have met his father and most of his siblings but not his mother. On the 9th of August I will be back in Kagoma, enjoying a last few days, I want to visit some of the students homes, climb Nakayima again, cycle to Mubende one last time and just enjoy spending time with everyone around Kagoma! I am also going with Danny (the cattle herder at Kisimbiri) to his home which is a 3 hour journey to visit his family. His family doesn’t think that he can speak any English and also don’t believe that he has been living with muzungus. So that will be a nice day and I will get to see lots more nice scenery. Then I will go back to Kampala for the last few days, just so I don’t go straight from Kagoma to England, as I think I would find that really difficult. So, on the 19th I fly home, to be back in England for the 20th at around 7:00am. I think it is going to be very, very strange. I have known this life for a very long time now and I am not quite sure how I am going to feel when I am back; I know that I will miss all the wonderful people here a lot!

Monday, 25 July 2011

What is the drought doing to our children?

Although we know a lot about the effects of the drought in Sudan and Ethiopia its effects and those created by inflation are giving some very serious problems at our schools.
This report from our Director, Ssempijja Andrew tells the story. We will be helping.

Third Term 2011 will run for 90 days from the 28th of August until the 26th of November. The main food products we feed to both our students and staff, is posho made from maize flour and beans, for sauce.

Posho is made from Maize and is like thick porridge.

Due to some food that we have harvested from our farms we have been able to add additional nutrition to the children’s diets in weekends. However due to the current drought, we will not be able to harvest this food from our gardens next term. Therefore students will have to consume a constant diet of posho and beans unless we are able to add some additional variety to their diet, by buying rice at the weekends for example. (Posho fills you but has low nutritious value)

Amount required:


60kg per day for 90 days
Cost per Kg
1500Ush (current price)
Total cost
8,100,000Ush   £2025

Maize Flour

Maize flour needed for Posho
Maize flour needed for Porridge
Total Kg of maize flour needed
Price per Kg
Total Cost
17,760,000Ush   £4440

During this Second Term, maize corn prices rocketed to 1500Ush per Kg due to scarcity; because of some new harvests we anticipate the price per Kg to drop to 800Ush. However, there is a need to purchase and stock it very quickly as the farmers start harvesting in early August. According to observation, the yield has been poor and neighbouring countries are eagerly waiting to buy it. Therefore food prices may rise much higher than they have been.


Per meal- 130Kg at 3200Ush per Kg
416,000Ush       £104 
For 12 meals (Once per week)
4,992,000Ush £1248 for 6000 meals

If we put the above meal plan into effect, the cost on the posho will reduce by 2,080,00Ush and then the overall cost will rise by 4,992,000Ush.


Total cost for maize
Plus cost of rice
Plus cost of beans
30,852,000Ush     £7713

Minus value for posho replaced by rice

Final Total
28,772,000Ush     £7193

 This total will feed 550 people for 5 to 7 days a week. About 50,000 meals!!

Water Status

As the population of the community expands, water as a resource is needed much more. Therefore water pressure is increasing within the area. There are three possible alternative interventions that can be considered:

1.    Drill a borehole, since it was discovered that there is an underground river located near St Zoe; we could target and extract the water and be able to obtain a clean water supply.
2.    The second intervention would look at enlarging and completing the valley dam. This could even include a way of filtering this water so as to improver the water quality.
3.    The third proposal looks at building another underground tank on the side of the Secondary School. This would enable the harvesting of more rainwater from the roofs of the Secondary buildings.
W Written by Ssempijja Andrew July 24th 2011