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Sunday, 22 December 2013


We would like to send a big thank you and of course Best Wishes for Christmas to all our supporters who are helping teach the children and young people in Uganda and Rwanda.

In early January we expect to be able to tell you some exciting news about developments at St Zoe's Schools, ensuring long term continuity, and also about a major new project in Rwanda which a large Charity has offered to help us with.

Our students at Secondary schools and University are now on vacation and the primary school children will be worrying about the Primary 7 examinations which are a major event in the calendar of all 11,500 primary schools in Uganda. Last year St Zoe's was in the top 5% of all these schools and to will be a hard act to follow.

This year the children prepared a Christmas event and the pictures below were taken at both Good Shepherd Special needs school and at St Zoes. The top two were at St Zoe's.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A Uganda Christmas Story

We still have some copies of Denise's Children's book which has been so popular.

It is a great little book for your children or grandchildren and suitable for ages up to about 10 (although lots of adults like it too)

The price is only £1.93 delivered free to your Kindle or other device. Hard copies available from HUGS.

You can buy at on Amazon and the link is

Sunday, 24 November 2013

E Cards for your friends

Over the years we have created a few different forms of  "e Cards" for those who want to send a Christmas message and link it to our work in Uganda and Rwanda.

This year the children at St Zoe's and Good Shepherd Schools have produced these Christmas scenes. You can download any or all of the Christmas Messages and pictures to attach to you email messages to friends.

At the same time you might like to visit our Virgin Money Giving site and make a voluntary donation.

The cards are free and no money is asked for. Right Click the pictureand Copy then save and they are yours to use.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Tom and Lydia dropped in

Tom and Lydia contacted Denise (Trustee of HUGS) when they noticed the ‘Christmas in Uganda’ story book on the web.  When they met Denise they told her they had just taken over the running of a charity called ‘Bury African Outreach’.
This is a small charity that pays for children in Uganda to attend local schools. Tom and Lydia said their dream is to build their own school in Uganda.  They arranged to visit the Good Shepherd school during their trip to Uganda in September and they have send some lovely pictures and comments which they would like to share. 
Tom also mentions Pat Scampion. Pat runs the charity called Improving Chances and Pat started this charity to fund the children's Outreach Programme at the Good Shepherd School.  Pat has written an excellent book about Sister Theresa and the children at the school. It is available on Amazon and called ‘Improving Chances’.

Hello Denise

I don't know what to say....

...we visited Sr Theresa and the children at the Good Shepherd and we were all blown away by how incredible and fantastic it all was!
Sr Theresa is a real inspiration, her hard work and love for the children is apparent as soon as you enter the school gates. We can not praise the school highly enough - it was just brilliant!

What HUGS has achieved out there is brilliant. It would be good if we could meet up at some point and get the full story of how you went about setting up the school. How much it cost / what (if any) legal issues you had to overcome etc. 

Its a long story, but it turned out that our driver who was from Fort Portal had a relative teaching at the school. He is also a good friend of one of the pupils (Derek) father. It really is a small world!

In another weird coincidence. We stayed one night at Ruwenzori View Guesthouse and it turned out that the owner knew your friend Patricia Scampian! I therefore gave her your copy of the book (which she didn't know about) Improving Chances. I therefore owe you a book, sorry!

My mum in particular loved our visit to the Good Shepherd. She described Sr Theresa as a living saint (and I wouldn't disagree)!

Speak soon

Tom and Lydia

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Sunday, 20 October 2013

A story from our Rwanda School

The Head Teacher (Sister Mary) who is one of my personal heroes sent me this story about one of her teachers in Rwanda and I thought you might like to read it;


Jean d’Amour Tuyisenge  is a Primary Four Teacher at St. Therese Primary School. He was born in Ngoma  District, Murama Sector, Eastern province of Rwanda.  His name Jean d”Amour in English means  John Of Love. He was born in 1990 now 23 years of age. His Father Alfred Gasangwa  died when he was only three years and his mother  Marie Therese Mukagakuba   is alive but left Tuyisenge when he  was very young and was married to another man.  Tuyisenge then lived with his Maternal Grandmother who brought him up in the best way she could.
The old grandmother much as she tried to care for the Tuyisenge, Life was not easy for the young boy. At school Tuyisenge was always late because he had to walk a long distance to school; he did not always have what he needed ;despite all that he succeeded well in class and teachers liked him for his academic excellence.

At Rurama Secondary School Tuyisenge continued to encounter serious problems of lack of school fees, scholastic material ,and had long journeys  to make to and from school.  Despite those problems he performed well in class, was disciplined and set good examples in behavior and academics. As a result he was trusted and elected a head boy among 450 students in the school. The school Leadership, aware of some of his problems, permitted him to study free of charge for a period of two years.
Tuyisenge‘s favorite lesson was English Language. In The District competition he came first and this opened for him an opportunity to participate In the National Competition. After three years of Ordinary Level, he sat and passed the National Examination with Distinction. He was admitted at Sake Secondary School studied Combination of Science lessons of MCB (Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology); he had done very well in those Subjects.
At the end of Senior Six Tuyisenge was expecting the National Examination and all of a sudden he was attacked my severe Malaria. He sat for Examination while very sick, and as result missed some points to qualify for the Government University Scholarship.  This put him down and for some time kept at home without sense of direction.
Gilbert Bisangabagabo, who worked with us told me about Tuyisenge and how he was now confined at his grandmother frustrated and yet with great intellectual capacity.  I was then looking for a science oriented teacher and Gilbert assured me that Tuyisenge was the best in the area and that an opportunity to teach would revive his hope for possible bright future.
When Tuyisenge approached me for a teaching job I interviewed his and indeed I found him quite bright young man. When he started earning some bit of money he decided, with encouragement from his fellow teachers, to registrar again for senior six, as private candidate. He sat for the Exam again last year hoping that he would perform well to get Government university scholarship. He indeed passed very well and to the standards he would have qualified for the scholarship but unfortunately this year The Government has stopped those scholarships and Tuyisenge again has missed it.
This time Tuyisenge is quite firm; he has decided to try it alone with the little funds he gets as a licensed teacher.  He had been admitted in Busogo university to study Agriculture but he cannot make it. He has now opted to study weekend University program in Klbungo;  he is studying science subjects.
He teaches five days and on the weekend he goes to study. He does not know whether he will make it especially with the little funds available to cater for many needs.
I decided to write about Tuyisenge because of special observation I made about him.  He has a way of handling pupils that has given best results in the School.  First of all Tuyisenge is not trained a teacher. These years he teaches the class that has the largest number of pupils and majority are girls.  It is amazing that his class is the most disciplined, serious class in the school.  Pupils especially girls have been performing remarkably well in class and outside class.
What he does is group work; he makes groups of four pupils and in each group is a bright pupil who leads others. He encourages then to help one another and as for him he just facilitates them and supervises class work . He told me this: “I help pupils to trust in me and imitate me while teaching. I encourage them to memorize immediately what I teach them because they have no time to revise lessons when they arrive at home. I also encourage them to be creative in their group work.”
Having interviewed Tuyisenge about his life I asked him what he would like to say to other young people who may have similar problems like his . He told me that they too should learn to persevere, accept their stories and have positive thinking as they try to shape their future .
His vision he said is to get the best out of the little he has at hand.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

A right to education

Over the 18 years since we started the work of Helping Uganda Schools there has been a great focus on providing the buildings so that good teaching can be delivered. St Zoes, Good Shepherd and now St Therese's in Rwanda have all demanded quite a lot of building work. No doubt there will be more to come.

But our Trustees decided that we should put more emphasis on not only subsidising the cost of education at primary and secondary and vocational levels but also give support to the very brightest young people who have the ability and drive to go on the further education.

We launched our scholarship programmes and they extend to both Uganda and Rwanda.

At University we now support 6 students of Nursing, Medicine, Accountancy, and Education. At secondary school we are supporting a further 5 who have yet to chose their further careers.

Secondary schooling costs about £330 per year and University between £1200 and £2000 per year but those costs include fees, accommodation, books and travel.

The University Students commit to stay and work in Uganda or Rwanda after qualification.

The only real long term escape from so many of Africa's problems is through education and good governance.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Safeguarding children

With a great deal of press attention quite rightly being given to the way so many children are being abused in UK it is good to reflect on what happens in Uganda. Children get abused all over the world and it is pretty tough for teenage girls and for children with learning disability. Abuse is everywhere and this is the sort of challenge which HUGS is doing a little to try to address. We plan to have a special programme at St Zoes to focus on these matters.
But the Lira Babies home which you all support is also doing its bit and in a very big way.

The home now has 37 children who are orphans or abandoned. One has a serious physical disability. Sr.Demmy takes in everyone who comes and the children are placed with a member of the extended family usually before the child is 5. I am sure the rigour of our adoption agencies is missing but suspect that this is a small risk in a community where everyone knows everyone else and can keep an eye on things. We could learn from this. HUGS has been supporting Sr. Demmy for several years and her work gives children a Sure Start.

Friday, 13 September 2013

James was murdered

James was murdered last week. We did not know him but he was younger brother to Fr John, Andrew,  and Sr Immaculate and  Annette. He had gone to work in Southern Sudan with his wife and two children.

Any idea that a culprit might be found and prosecuted is nil. We take all these things for granted. They are pretty non existent in much of Africa.

He left behind a wife and two children at primary school.HUGS Trustees will see if we can cover the cost of these things.

Thanks to the brilliant efforts of the Mudderlings (see earlier blog) we will have enough to cover this. Well done girls. You could not have timed it better.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Tough Mudders

Tough Mudder® events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, determination, and camaraderie. Only 78% of entrants successfully complete each challenge. As the leading company in the booming obstacle course industry, Tough Mudder® has already challenged half a million inspiring participants worldwide. But Tough Mudder® is more than an event, it’s a way of thinking. By running Tough Mudder®, you’ll unlock a true sense of accomplishment, have a great time, and discover a camaraderie with your fellow participants that’s experienced all too rarely these days.

So when Virgin Money Giving asked me to support THE THREE MUDDERLINGS I had no idea who these 3 young women were and what they are going to do next weekend.

I have never met them and the only way I could find them and say Thank You was to send a small donation. They have been doing volunteer work in Uganda and wanted to help a good cause. They Found HUGS by in Internet search, They are called Joanne, Kimberley and Nabila.

Good luck girls and if any supporter would like to help them them search for Three Mudderlings on the VIRGIN MONEY GIVING site or search for Helping Uganda Schools on the Virgin site or click below

Thursday, 29 August 2013

A New School in Rwanda

One of the main reasons for our visit to Uganda and Rwanda in July was to see the progress being made on HUGS' latest school which is called St Therese's at Rukira about 2 hours from Kigali the capital of Rwanda.
We became involved in February 2011 and formed a division within HUGS to fund raise for the building of a Primary School to replace a group of really deadfull rooms (more like animal houses) by a new school for the 300 or so children.
You all helped and the Sisters who run the school were able to get support from charities in Holland and Spain.

The Official Opening Ceremony was great fun with lots of music ad dance and naturally quite a lot of speeches. Since most of the children and quite a few adults speak no English they must have found this bit rather boring but they did not let it show.

The school has 9 classes plus a very smart toilet block and wash areas.

The site has been landscaped very well and after the next rainy season there should be some good gardens to make the site even more attractive.
In the future there is a need for three more rooms and then possible boarding accommodation and a secondary section but we have not committed to these things at present because there are more pressing needs at St Zoes schools

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Health and Education

One of the inevitable consequences of visits to Africa is that they a bit contagious. Tell a few friends and they end up visiting too and that is what happened with some great Obstetricians and Gynaecologists from St. Mary's Hospital in Manchester.
They visited the Virika Womens Hospital in Fort Portal as part of a training and twinning visit and in a week 60 major surgical operations were carried out bringing back a life with dignity to women damaged during childbirth.
It's like starting my life again, said one of the young mothers on her way home a week after their operation.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Uganda Visit July 2013

The Blog has been a bit quiet lately because Denise and Peter went to Uganda and Rwanda to review progress on the projects. First, St Zoes.
Our visit was to review the future plans for the school, to review school administration and to launch the ORANGE funded Internet Cafe.

We have been concerned that the Vocational School is very much behind programme. But things are improving. The building is almost complete with final painting and guttering to be completed. Some classes have started, mainly in Tropical Agriculture and Animal Husbandry. Some tools for wood working are also shown but more are needed.

Thanks to a grant from the Paris based Fondation ORANGE we have been able to install an Internet cafe at the school. It is solar powered with one server and 5 terminals. The regional Director of ORANGE cut the ribbon on JUly 15th and commissioning will be done before the end of July. We plan to make a small (25 pence) per term addition to school fees and make the service free to all staff and children. It will have wifi so smart phones can access the system. Great care has been given to security and web site access of course.

More about St Zoes later and we will cover visit to Western Uganda and Rwanda over the next week or two.

St Zoes now has about 14 buildings and is very impressive.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

A "must see" video

Although this is not really about Uganda Schools I think it is something we might not all know about and it could be a lifesaver.

Look at You Tube and enter 112 Emergency Services.

There is a very well produced and short video which might prove to be a real lifesaver.

Fellow Trustee Denise Ead and I are going to Uganda and Rwanda in early July to visit our schools and to attend the Official Opening of the Rwanda School which now has 9 class rooms and over 300 children.

We will tell you more when we return

Thursday, 13 June 2013

HUGS Annual Golf Event

Thanks to the leadership of Trustee Charlotte Brinsley aided by Bob Blundell, John Glynn, and Carolyn Brinsley we had the fourth HUGS Golf Event on June 5th at Romiley Golf Club

The weather was great and 18 teams played in a Shotgun start competition. There were lots of great prizes and nearly sponsored very generously supported with prizes and also with teams

The whole event raised just over £5000 all of which will go to our schools in Uganda and Rwanda. Thanks to everyone who took part.

All the pictures can be found at Golf Photos 2013

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Why are we helping in Rwanda?

I got an invitation to visit Rukira in the Eastern province of Rwanda about 2 years ago and with memories of the 1994 genocide in my memory I made the visit with some trepidation.
Rwanda is a beautiful country and if we could help to bring really top quality education to children of all tribal backgrounds then maybe we could do something to help with the reconciliation needed.

This week the Observer Magazine published the first part of an article about Rwanda and the actions taken to try to heal the divide.

Here is a part of the article

Rwandan genocide survivors

Paying the price: survivor Madalena Mukariemeria with her daughter Lucie (left) and adopted daughter Asunta, whose parents were murdered in the genocide. Photograph: Andy Hall for the Observer
Lucie Niyigena's seven-year-old mind was a jumble of panic and confusion as she stepped over the brutalised, bleeding corpse of her grandfather and fled through the back door of her town's Catholic church. But, as Lucie remembers the terror nearly two decades later, she was driven by a single overwhelming urge – not to be separated from her mother in death.
"All I could think of was to be with my mother whatever happened," she says. "Even today, even though I want to get out of this place where so many terrible things happened, where there are still people who want them to happen again, where we can see the killers walking on the streets every day, I can never leave my mother."

rwandan genocide - skulls of the victims

read the whole story on The Observer.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Is it worth it?

Readers will remember that our Good Shepherd School is for children with learning disabilities. Families with children with disability also have perhaps 5 other children. Is it worth spending any money sending such children to school? They would find themselves in classes of up to 120 and would get little of no personal attention. They are often bullied too.

Good Shepherd has very small class sizes and this year we decided to fund three of the best performing children so that they could go to secondary school. We have just received the end of term report cards and one is shown here.

Coming 10th out of 60 is a really excellent achievement and makes all the work seem so worthwhile.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Sport in Fort Portal

BBC Radio has featured the question "why have Kenyan runners become world champion runners and won so many Medals in the top events?"

High altitude has helped of course but the real reason probably goes back to a school at Itoe called St Patrick's. A dedicated teacher decided to raise the aspirations of his pupils by giving great attention to sport.
This has now become legendary and even today European athletes often go there for training.

Fort Portal in Western Uganda is also pretty high and like children all over the world those at Good Shepherd love sport.

Trustee Matt Houghton who runs The HQ Coaching Centre in Merseyside has been encouraging the children to get more involved in Sport and he suggested that we call our lead teacher the "Sport Development Manager" Roland was really proud to have this role and has arranged a series of football and netball competitive matches for Good Shepherd and nearby schools.
Small beginings but well done Matt and Roland!

Sunday, 31 March 2013



The strangest customs search I have ever been through was when I went by road from Uganda to Rwanda.
No search for cigarettes or alcohol but a very thorough search for plastic bags or plastic bottles. They are not permitted in the country as part of a programme aimed at keeping the country free of mess and litter

And it really works. But then they also have UMUGANDA.

In Rwanda, there is a mandatory community service day from 8:00am to 11:00am, on the last Saturday of each month called Umuganda meaning community service.  The day is called umunsi w’umuganda, meaning “contribution made by the community which is designed to be a day of contribution and building the country by citizens themselves. By law all able bodied persons above the age of 18 and below 65  are expected to participate in volunteer community work. The start of this practice goes back to colonial times and is still practiced today. 

Participation in Umuganda is usually supervised by a manager, or Umudugudu chairperson who oversees the effectiveness and efficiency ofcommunity participation.On this day, business activity halts, public transportation is limited, and people are seen everywhere working. People participate in cleaning streets, cutting grass and trimming bushes along roads, or repairing public facilities or building houses for vulnerable persons. People with particular skills offer their services for free on this day.  For example, doctors may offer free medical examination.

The benefits of Umuganda are not merely economic.  The day is intended to build community involvement and strengthen cohesion between persons of different background and levels.   One such a benefit is that people can access authorities to articulate their needs and voice opinions on various issues.

The labour cost from Umuganda contributes to national development programs.  By reaping the rewards of the volunteer labor and by having more capital to invest in the country, Umuganda has contributed to the growth and development of the Rwanda   .

Our Head Teacher at the Rukira school is planning to work with the Umugganda Local team to see if they can level the school site in preparation for putting in a good drainage system.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Help for Teachers

Learning from Uganda is a web based teaching aid for both students and teachers who may be interested in learning about Uganda and Africa.

It has stories, video and pictures, and lots of information about the country and its people and culture.

Teachers can have free access and students can use it with project work. It was designed and produced by HUGS Trustee, Denise Ead.

If it encourages some local fund raising for HUGS that would be welcome but we are more interested in sharing information about the wonderful country and the kindness of it people.

To access the site please click here

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Manchester 10K Run

Once again we are putting a team into the Manchester 10K run on May 26th this year.

This is a really great fun event and we have a small number of places reserved for HUGS Supporters to take up. Entry is £50 per person but we have already paid this.

So what would like runners to do is to raise at least £50 and £100 is a nice target so that all the profit can go to the charity.

There are special categories for children too and the Manchester 10k Web site gives details


The picture shows Trustee Charlotte with her team last year.

Do contact us for details. But hurry because these can be in great demand.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Child Mortality

This is a rather unusual thing for me to put on the Blog but I found it quite fascinating.

It is a short video and can be viewed by clicking on the link


Comments would be welcome.

And on quite another thing here is a picture taken in February 2013 to show the progress on our school in Rwanda. 9 Classes will be complete by March this year and that means that 280 children will now have really lovely space for their schooling instead of the farm buildings whey were in last year.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

How are they doing?

Every year one of the really big news stories in the Uganda Press is all about the Primary and Examinations which mark the end of Primary School.

Estimates vary but up to 500,000 children take the examination and it is a real worry to parents and to teachers. Very strict control of the School examiners is done and they are locked away for weeks to mark the papers with little or no access to outside pressures.

So when February arrives you can imagine the feeling of expectancy.

11,500 schools and examination centres take part and of these about 83% are Public UPE Schools and about 17% are private schools run by charities or NGO's (like St Zoes and Good Shepherd) or they are run as businesses.

St Zoes has been entering each year since 2003 and this is the best year ever. 25 children got Division ! and 25 Division 2. No Division 3 and no failures.

This put St Zoes in the top 4.6% of ALL THE SCHOOLS IN UGANDA. A really good achievement. Local Schools in Mubende Town did really well also and have set a bit of a challenge to St Zoes for the future.

St Zoes charges rather less than the other schools and of course does have a number of free places which we fund.

But the other big news was at Good Shepherd. Children with learning disability simply do not enter these exams. But this year three children all got Division 2 results which is pretty amazing and a real testament to Sr. Teresa and to her staff.

Well done everyone.And for all our supporters we hope you find it rewarding to know that your generosity is getting great results.

Nest time we will try to update you on what opportunities have been taken up by children who completed their education and went on to Further Education, University, or careers