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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.


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)


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:


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

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Thank you to everyone for your continued support.  

Charity trustees have been busy ensuring the funds we receive make a real difference to vulnerable children.


The most important news is that Peter Mount, the inspirational founder of HUGS stepped down as Chair earlier this year and now resigned as a Trustee.  For the first time, we are without his brilliant ability to network and boundless energy and drive to help vulnerable people. We have an enormous debt of gratitude to his skills and tenacity.  I hope you will join us in wishing him all the best, please email him if you have chance. 

Richard Bircher, the new HUGS Chair, and has appointed three new Trustees, Jessica Williams, (a senior NHS manager with a keen interest in international social injustice), Carmel Dowling (Politics University Student and our social media expert) and Emma Stapleton (Manchester based, ENT Surgeon).


The Big Uganda Cycle Ride has raised ALL the money for the completion of St Frances de Sales School. Sebastian, the programme director is so grateful to everyone’s generosity.  Thank you. The school will open in February, and the first intake will be at least 50 children with special needs. Over 500 people played a role in raising funds. Its incredible. We have other bids ‘in the pipeline’ to help with teaching equipment costs. 

Work on the girls dormitory at Little Shepherd School is progressing very well. Here is the latest picture.

Uganda school children, who are in a final year class are back at school.  Our sponsored Midwife and Medical Students have returned to study after COVID lockdown, and will be qualifying in 3 month’s time. HUGS donated additional school fees, to help these pupils, as many schools had used previously paid fees to keep their businesses afloat and helping teachers with no income. Thank you for everyone who helped identify the pupils who were most in need.

HUGS was able to make a donation of £3000 to the Lira Babies Home. This is such an amazing place where abandoned babies are taken in, loved and fed until adoptive families are found. The Director of the home, Sister Demmy, who has become a friend of many HUGS visitors, has also retired.  She leaves a legacy of 100s of children, who have bright futures, when she and her team reached out to them at the darkest of times. 


There are two projects ‘On the Horizon’.

Emma and Richard met Ronald Kamoga from an organisation called CEFOVID (over zoom) which works in the Kosovo slum in Kampala. He is a really inspirational man. He has a register of 65 primary school aged children who are not enrolled in school because of crushing poverty.  HUGS trustees have decided to join with him to see how many children we can help into education for the start of the next school year (February 2021). It costs £200 to educate a child for a year (this includes buying a pair of shoes and socks, school bag, pencils and breakfast and lunch for 30 weeks of the year).  So little, which can make such a difference. If anyone would like to help with fund raising for this project, please contact Richard on hugstrustees@gmail.com

And finally, HUGS is getting ‘Crafty for Christmas’. We have 20 kind offers of handmade items to auction to raise funds.  Beautiful crafted gifts to help cheer up, what is likely to be a difficult Christmas for many people.  We will let you know how you can help with this fund-raising effort next month.

Sunday, 4 October 2020

The Big Uganda Cycle Ride has been an enormous success. Our Target was to cycle 6480 miles (From Manchester to Kampala.. virtually) and raise £20,000.  Instead, fuelled by our amazing team of 'over-achievers' we travelled 11,000 miles and raised £33,000.

There is still time to donate if you'd like to help, as this campaign will run until December.

The money raised is to be spent on our new Special Needs School, 'St Francis de Sale'.  The school will primarily be for children with hearing and sight problems, but also those with associated disabilities.  The school is well under construction, and this week, the roof was completed.

The school is a quadrangle design. It's all on one level and safe.  The initial build is for children who are starting school, many of whom may be above normal nursery age (as many children with disabilities are never enrolled in schools).  Over the next few years we will be adding a kitchen, classes for older children and teacher accommodation.

This is an exciting new project, and one which will be a joy to assist over the next few years.

We are working closely with an NGO called the Jinja Organisation of Parents of Disabled Children. They will own the school, and ensure its self sufficiency (something we insist on, for all our projects).  So far their management of the project has been excellent. They are committed, aware of costs and creative.

This is going to be an amazing school.

Here is a short video, giving thanks to everyone who has helped us on this amazing journey.


Tuesday, 22 September 2020

The BigUgandaCycleRide has reached Kenya.

 With nearly 50 cyclists from many countries taking part, the big ride has now done over 7000 miles and has reached Kenya. Over 7000 miles covered.

And we have reached our target of £20,000 but with 8 days to go we naturally raised the bar and are going for £30,000. That would be something.

Let's show some places we visited after leaving Nigeria.

Jo and Liz did 105 miles in a day

Just arrived in Kenya

Uganda Makerere University major fire

200,000 refugees in Kakuma, Kenya

Our armed guard in South Sudan

Tim with the Yellow Jersey

Central African Republic

And Chairman Richard Thank you

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Maybe you could share this Video?

This is a short video made by new HUGS Chairman, Dr Richard Bircher with music by one of our ex scholarship students, Natiigo Daniel.

Maybe you could share this blog, put it on Facebook, Instagram and anything else you can think of? 

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

We have reached Nigeria

 The BigUgandaCycleRide now has nearly 50 riders and we have travelled through Europe, North Africa. Niger and made a detour to virtually visit the parents of cycling pharmacist, Jimi, who works in Stalybridge. They live in Ife, Nigeria.

5000 miles cycled and to date £14,000 raised.  We have Yellow Jerseys for the most miles cycled each week, Green Jerseys for the greatest height climbed and ever day a Red Jersey for the best fundraiser each day.

Here are just a few of the places we have been.

Please share this post with everyone and financial support if you can through our Virgin Money Giving Site. We are raising the money to complete St Francis de Sales School for Deaf Children. (See earlier blogs)

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Do you wish to follow the ride?

 If any of our readers would like to follow the Big Uganda Cycle Ride and read the daily postings of where we are and all the updates and pictures could you please let Peter know by commenting to this blog.

You will need WhatsApp

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Week one of the BigUgandaCycleRide

September 1st to 5th, our first 5 days of the ride and we have 50 cyclists signed up.  From all over the world too.

We travelled through London, Paris, Limoges and Lourdes

After 5 days we have travelled 2300 miles and are in Algeria already.

And at £7003 towards our target of £20,000

Last night was Figuid Algeria, and sleeping accommodation was rather basic.

Cycling in California are Shay and Alice

Cycling in Wales is David

Cycling in Ireland is Cameron

Cycling in Uganda is Daniel

Cycling in Rwanda is Karenzi

Cycling in England are many. Here is Week One YELLOW JERSEY Champion for the most miles, Rob. He is pictured in France with Tour de France cyclist in Team Ineos. Peter was King of the Mountains. (very fitting) but living in Compstall means every ride has a hill.

Now please share this email with all your friends and with social media. We are doing al this to raise money to complete the build of St Francis de Sales School for deaf and partially sighted children.

The school will look like this

And the Virgin Money Giving Link is

Monday, 31 August 2020

The Big Uganda Cycle Event

 September is the month of the big Virtual Cycle Ride from Manchester to Kampala. 6470 miles and crossing the Sahara.

At the latest count we have 46 cyclists from USA, New Zealand, Rwanda, Uganda, Ireland and UK and we all pool the miles we will cycle during the month.

We have cyclist aged from 11 to over 80 and some will cycle a short distance and some will be serious Lycra Wearers who are out to win a Yellow Jersey.

But raising a lot of money is the main objective and it is to help complete St Francis de Sales, our second special needs school and aimed at helping deaf and partially sighted young children. These children get very little help in Uganda but we know that if they are given a good helping hand then they can prove that disability does not mean inability.

We will update the Blog lots of times in September to tell you how we are doing.

It is with great sadness that we inform you that two great friends of HUGS, Maureen Matthews and Brian Hargreaves, died very recently. Please remember them in your prayers

If you would like to support the BigUgandaCycleRide the link is

Friday, 21 August 2020

We're getting into practice!

Covid 19 stopped our normal Annual Fundraiser which has been either a big Golf Match or last year's Coast to Coast Cycle ride.

So we thought we would do one bigger and better. A Virtual Cycle Ride from Manchester to Kampala. Over 6200 miles.

Our youngest rider is Theo aged 11 this week.

If you don't have a bike maybe you could borrow one for a few days and join in? Just let us know.

Already we have 32 cyclists who have said they would contribute their September cycling miles towards this target.  And of course they will be seeking sponsorship for this marathon event.


And if the bike is getting a bit old maybe this is the time to repair it!

More news to come. We start the event on September 1st and finish on September 30th.

Email or phone Peter or Richard if you would like to participate.  07802 793576 for Peter or 07976 885871 for Richard.

Monday, 3 August 2020

Saying Goodbye to a great friend and welcoming new Trustees

Is is with great sadness that we report the death of Maureen Matthews who was very instrumental in Fr John Kyazze coming to St Marys Marple Bridge in 1995 and to the start of HUGS. Maureen did so much for parish activities and for environmental initiatives too. She will be missed very much.

Welcome to two new Trustees, Carmel Dowling and Jessica Williams who will help Richard as we oldies move into retirement.

Uganda has now seen 4 deaths but lockdown and curfew are very much in place. It must be really difficult for people. Schools are closed probably until January, travel by car is very limited, Airports were closed. Hunger is the big problem.

But Government does allow building works to continue.

New Trustee Carmel raised nearly £2000 from Didymus Charity and this has gone to our secondary school for girls for Science equipment.

Most of the money has now been sent to Little Shepherd School at Rutunguru to build a safe accommodation for girls boarding at the school.

At our new school for deaf children work is well underway on roofing the building.

Trustees were very keen to start a fund raising event again this year this year. We have had at least one for the  last 11 years but Covid 19 really stopped us. We had planned a cycle ride to Santiago de Compostela but had to cancel it. Maybe a virtual cycle ride to Uganda? But we couldn't really think how to do this.

So this is a Lockdown Event. If you would like to help us complete St Francis de Sales School for deaf children than perhaps you could support this appeal below.


And if you are into Social Media then please take a look at our new INSTAGRAM page which is here INSTAGRAM