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Monday, 28 March 2011

Uganda Schools and sport

Nairobi — Kenya's dominance in sport remains largely unchallenged in eastern Africa. The country's secondary school students, competing in last week's Brookside East Africa Schools Games in Nakuru, proved just that.

In the 1960's it was the effort by just one Kenyan Secondary school which created the Kenyan excellence in athletics and this led to so many famous Olympic Games successes.
Matt and his Engage For Africa want to help change this. Why can't we help St Zoe's children in Uganda to become top sports men and women?  So we are going to try.Here is what Matt said;   When we pulled up at the school pupils were playing volleyball, netball and football. One of the issues I noticed on my visit in 2009 was the fact that girls at the school don’t play any sport and it’s mainly the older boys that play football on the school pitch. This surprised me as when I spoke to younger pupils and the girls they expressed an interest.

During the two days at St Zoe’s myself and Phil Hayward coached all boys and girls at the school using their new equipment. Basketball, netball, athletics, football, volleyball were all played as part of a round robin where pupils had the chance to be coached and compete in games, a special thanks goes to Naomi and Becky as without them we couldn’t have coached so many children.
Prior to any coaching all pupils at St Zoe’s were presented with their premier league football kits donated from primary schools in Merseyside & Cheshire. This part of the project plays a massive part during the day and beyond, as every pupil has their own dreams when they put on the shirt whether it is at school or in their local village. The T Shirt is a talking point of happiness.

The need for structured coaching on a regular basis at St Zoe’s is necessary due to the number of pupils, the enthusiasm, work ethic and talent the pupils possess.

I feel St Zoe’s has massive potential to produce talented sportsmen and women in the near future that can go on to great achievements in the sports industry. The talented sports boys and girls at the school must be used as positive role models as so many pupils will look up to them at school in their everyday life. With the right coaching starting from an early age and with all sports areas up and running I can’t see why the pupils wouldn’t flourish in St Zoe’s Sport School of Excellence. 

The drive and energy at the school from the children is there to see, with help from HQ Coaching, HUGS and the staff at St Zoe’s, the schools sports will now go from strength to strength. The recording and evaluating of activities is key and the fact the pupils must get a competitive edge in sports that will come through competing against other schools is massive to their short and long term development.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Bob's reflections on 4 days as a teacher

My visit to Uganda this years was fascinating and full of interest. I was very lucky to be able to spend four full days at St Zoes and I was extremely impressed with what I saw and heard. The teachers and students generally have a wonderful work ethic and are clearly full of gratitude for what all you supporters around the world have provided. They really are taking full advantage and some students already have great aspirations. 

Becky and Naomi  our two gap year students are making a  superb contribution. They work at the school every day and have developed a great working relationship with both the teachers and the students. I cannot speak too highly of them. In Peter’s last blog he said that I had asked a class to write about someone they admired, and he had copied an essay by one of the students. In fact it was Naomi who had asked the class to write about a person who '”inspired” them. This resulted in the wonderful essay published on the Blog

Posted by Trustee Bob Blundell

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Victoria was Victorious!

The big event which was really frightening so many people in Uganda when we visited in February was the Parliamentary Elections. Would there be bloodshed. Why were we coming at that particular weekend? We arrived at St. Zoes to find that many of the parent had come to take the children back home so that they would be safe.

Our friend Victoria was running for election as the MP for Fort Portal. She had worked tirelessly as Regional Director of Education and has a passion for this subject. She has attended lots of events at Good Shepherd school and is about the best Charity Auctioneer I have ever seen.

She was successful and got more votes than any other MP in the whole of Uganda. She came to dinner with us when we arrived and I spent a morning with her when I returned from Rwanda. HUGs has helped her daughter with her University Law Degree course.
Victoria has the Bundibogyo area, west of the Rwenzori Mountains and next door to Congo as part of her constituency. One of the challenges she is going to tackle is the long established practice in thie area for the very poor people to sell their daughters, often as young as 12, to become husbands of elderly men in return for a few goats. The girl may have been promised at the age of 8. When she leaves home she joins the other wives and that increases the labour force at the man's farm. It seems that child abuse is international.
I will keep blog readers informed on her success with this huge challenge

Sunday, 13 March 2011

What makes leadership really work?

Over the years I must have read dozens of books and hundreds of articles on the subject of leadership, how to grow it, how to find it, and how to make if effective. Reflecting on what has worked in Africa one cannot but notice the significant effects which have been inspired and led by organised faith groups such as nuns of many faith persuasions.
As a Catholic I have a very warm place in my heart for these wonderful people who give themselves totally to helping others. Where could you find a team of skilled professions who dedicate themselves for every hour of every day to helping others with no financial reward at all. They are quite priceless. And believe me they really know how to get thing done.

So when Sr. Immaculate whose brother is Fr. John Kyazze had her Silver Jubilee on February 5th this year is was not surprising to find the over 500 people came to celebrate.

And when we visited a few weeks later she and Sr. Goretti and Sr. Josephine gave up their weekend and travelled the 5 hours each way just to look after us and prepare all the food. Can you imagine anyone in England driving to London from Manchester for the weekend just to be there to look after some friends. We would call in a caterer. The Big Society is alive and well in Uganda.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Who do I really admire?

Bob Blundell our Trustee asked the secondary school children at St Zoe's to write about the people they  admired most in the world.
I wonder how many European children of about 13 would have been able to write as well as Mutyaba George William of Form 3.

And don't forget that William does not see TV or newspapers in the very rural area where St Zoe's is located.
As we explored the site one day we met the head girl Naomi Tandeka aged about 14. She was sitting in the shade reading an English translation of one of the great Russian satirical plays by Gogol called The Government Inspector. 
And we are providing remedial English to students in our Universities. Something wrong isn't there!
Who is third world.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Too late for Felicisa

Felicisa lived next door to my friends in Uganda. With terminal breast cancer and aged 41 and with 6 children her brother in law received a text message from the big hospital telling him to come and collect her from the hospital verandah.
She died yesterday.
We dont know how lucky we are in UK.

This is what the local daily newspaper has just reported:

PATIENTS admitted at Mulago Referral Hospital with spinal injuries have abandoned their ward, demonstrating against lack medical attention. 

Business at the hospital came to a standstill as patients relocated their beds to the verandah, while some blocked the entrance to the ward. 

One of the patients, who preferred anonymity, said he had spent six months at the hospital where he was referred for an operation but nothing had been done about his condition. 

Another woman claimed that her husband had died due to negligence. 

“My husband sustained injuries in a motor accident and we were admitted here for four months. His body had begun rotting. Doctors recommended an operation, but nothing was done,” she said. 

The acting deputy executive director, Baterana Byarugaba, told journalists that the hospital did not have enough anesthesiologists. 

An anethesist is a doctor who puts patients to sleep before an operation is carried out. They also monitor the patient’s breathing. 

The standoff drew crowds including the medical staff and administrators who resolved to rush urgent cases to the theatre. Details of the patients who underwent surgery were not readily available. 

According to Byarugaba, Mulago has seven anesthesiatic experts out of the 40 required. Three of the seven are attached to Makerere University Medical School, he explained. 

The rest of the staff are diploma holders and cannot handle the overwhelming number of patients. 

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Cooked fish from the Garden

At the bottom of the site below Good Shepherd school they have diverted the stream and created a large pond. Stocked with fast growing Tilapia Fish which are fed on Yam leaves grown alongside the pond they are growing and multiplying really fast.
They provided a wonderful lunch when we were there in February.

They were not quite this size though. The ones in the picture came from Lake Victoria.

The pond is just below the sport area which Matt and his Engage for Africa team are planning to level and make into a proper football and handball area over the next 12 months.

The Sisters and staff made a great meal for us all with everything produced in their own small farm. This included bananas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, chicken, milk. In fact almost every inch of the 5 acre site is used really carefully. We have two gardeners full time who lave done all the work over the last 4 years to create a wonderful farm from the densely covered site. Rainfall in Fort Portal is excellent and it would be hard to find a more productive place to farm.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

A chess champion

Phiona Mutesi from Kampala is about 17 and learnt chess a few years ago. Now she is No 2 in Uganda, plays at international events and attended the World Chess Olympiad in Siberia, where she met her hero Gary Kasparov.

She is not certain when she was born, although FIDE has estimated it to be 1993.   She grew up in the Ugandan slum of Katwe, where as of 2011 fifty percent of teen girls are mothers; when Phiona was about three her father died of AIDS and shortly after her older sister Juliet died of an unknown cause. When Phiona was about nine, and had already dropped out of school as her family could not afford to send her, she found a chess program run by the Sports Outreach Institute, which taught her how to play chess. As of 2011 she is a three-time Women's Junior Champion of Uganda.[ She played on board 2 for Uganda at the Chess Olympiad (Women) (2010). Furthermore, she is the youngest person ever to win the African chess championship. However, if the Sports Outreach Institute cannot raise enough money, Phiona will be unable to attend the 2012 Chess Olympiad in Turkey.

We must look at starting a chess club at our schools. Many of us learnt at school and it is just the sort of thing that could really appeal to our boarders when it is too dark to play out in the evenings.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Will Assumpta play for Uganda?

Aged two little Assumpta was coming to school but due to her very severe spinal deformity it was all she would to to sit on a chair and sing and clap as the children entertained us. Thanks to some wonderful kindness and generosity of friends she is now running about and taking a full interest in everything that all the other children can do.

Matt and Phil spent a lot of time with the children at Good Shepherd school for children with learning disabilities and she joined in all the fun.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Our visit to St. Zoe's 2011

The visit was to review progress at St Zoes and at Good Shepherd schools and for Mike and Jean to take a detailed review of the vocational project which the Oglesby Charitable Trust are supporting.
We saw great progress and the school results for the Primary school continue to be at the top in the region. The wall chart below shows recent results from the Primary school.

The secondary school is expanding and now covers S1 to S3 with about 70 pupils. Term started in February with an additional 65 which reflects the growing reputation of both Primary and Secondary schools.
Over the next three years our German friends will be fund raising to refurbish the primary school and the site and the Director of the school, Andrew Ssempijja has started a school environmental committee which will try to change a deep Uganda cultural problem and make the site continually free of both litter and the huge range of potential accident hazards which go with so much building going on. The first new paved footpaths and flower gardens are being established but we really need some rain to make them look beautiful.

A new classroom for these children will be completed in April and the Vocational building perhaps a month later.

Climate change in this very dry region mean that all our water harvesting tanks are dry but when the rains come (hopefully in April) we will have finished a major upgrade and expansion of this scheme and will have greatly increased storage capacity.
In the meantime the school truck is spending a great deal of time travelling to fetch water from a distant well.
As the school is growing so fast the logistics get more complex. We provide dormitory accommodation, regular meals and uniforms for the children and the newly formed structure of the project as an NGO with Ugandan Charitable status is now getting started. Local Trustees have been appointed and they are now beginning to meet regularly. There first tasks will be reviewing the organisation support and deciding on future priorities.

Matt Houghton and Phil Hayward came with 4 huge bags of football shirts and kit and gave lots of coaching to the children, they are also planning how best to create good quality pitches for football, netball and hand ball and athletics in the future. The aim is to make St Zoe's an exemplar in educational, vocational, and sporting excellence and try to find tomorrows Premier Division players and Olympic competitors.

Our two Project Trust volunteers Rebecca and Naomi have now been at St Zoes for 6 months and have made a huge contribution to not only the teaching of English and Mathematics but have joined in the affairs of the school in a truly wonderful manner.