Uganda Lodge April 2013 Newsletter

Ruhanga Development School  Begins its 5th Year

I cannot believe that we are nearly four months into another year, Easter has come and gone and hopefully Spring is around the corner.  It was five years ago that we started Ruhanga Development School with just 10 children and now we have 450 students attending daily, aged from 3 -16 years.

There are eleven classes and we employ over 15 local staff at the school alone. We had so many new ones this term that we had to utilise the newly built staffroom as an extra classroom instead.

Most children walk from their homes in the surrounding hills, some taking up to an hour each way and additionally we collect about 40 each day in a mini-bus.

To see our children please Watch this Video (Thanks to Joy McM)



Uganda Lodge

This is now a fully registered UK charity (Reg 1150023) and we would like to invite each one of you to support us and become a member of our charity. You can download an application form here and for a £10 donation we will welcome you as a full member. I also invite you to our 1st AGM to be held on Saturday 11th May starting at 2pm at my home in Shepperton (just west of London & south of Heathrow )

An overnight stay is possible if you bring a sleeping bag, and you can meet up with both old and new friends and make it a “Reunion” weekend. Please let me know if you would like to attend.

On the application you can also apply to become a trustee. If you can spare some time to help me to run this charity please consider this option. Many hands makes light work.

School Curriculum 

The children study a wide variety of subjects which includes practical topics such as growing vegetables and learning computers, crafts and debating which helps them to become fluent in English. 

They enjoy a variety of sports, dance and music and they have just formed a Scout & Guide group. 

We have managed to kit out over 50 of our students in matching grey shirts but redundant triangular Scout or Guide Scarves and any colour & size T-Shirts depicting the Scout or Guide badge  would be much appreciated.

I have just been donated a bugle, to assist the drummers when they practice marching.


Child Sponsorship Update

Our School is able to offer heavily subsidised places to these disadvantaged and orphaned children, thanks to the sponsorship of friends in the UK and beyond. Due to the massive intake for this school year we now need another 70  people to come forward and pledge just 90p a week to help a child get an education.

If you have been out to Ruhanga, or if you haven’t, please consider starting this small but regular commitment each month. You can choose a child  here  and also download an application form for sponsoring them  or just giving a donation, that reflects our new charity status. Each class at a school in Devon received £5 from the headmistress and I have just heard they are making it up to £84 by fundraising and will sponsor 2 children each. What a wonderful idea – and many thanks.

Volunteering

It’s still free to volunteer with us out in Ruhanga  and a small charge of £70 per week covers your all your meals and accommodation (hot showers and flush toilets, cheap beer etc) Visitors have a wide choice of activities that they can become involved in. You can assist the local teachers in school, choosing their preferred  age-group and take or share a full traditional lesson, or work with a small group that needs extra attention.

Other volunteers prefer to organise special sports days, craft and other fun activities, or help prepare and serve meals both at the school and at the Lodge Volunteers can assist the staff at Itojo hospital or  work on a variety of local community or current building projects. Very soon there will be much work associated with opening up our own nearly completed Village Medical Centre.

Safaris and Gorilla Treks

For just £250 most of our volunteers choose to go on a 3-day safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park during their  stay and many say it is one of the best experiences of their lives.

For someone  considering going to Uganda just to see the endangered mountain gorillas up close, they would find that staying with us for 2 or 3 weeks, getting to know and help in a rural village community, going on our short QE safari and having Denis to organise a gorilla trek will cost less than a 3-day gorilla safari alone organised by many specialist tour companies.

A plus is that all profits stay within the project and benefit the Ruhanga Community.

Sad News

A short while ago Robert, the Local Chairman of Migorora village, sadly passed away. This means we now have three more orphans at our school, and extra help and attention is being given to these children. Robert has always been very supportive of all we do in his community during the 8 years since I first met him, and only last year was so happy when I took him out a brand new suit to wear for all his important engagements.

McNeil Medical Centre

It was a massive undertaking but the concrete roof of the medical centre has been completed and now that the cement has dried out completely the many wooden supports that were needed during the construction phase have been removed. This method of roofing is typical of many African buildings so a second storey can be added. Windows and doors are being made and will be fitted shortly. Plastering all the walls and ceilings has commenced and once completed the  floor will be rendered over.   

Many thanks to Duncan McNeill and ASE Consulting Ltd who have donated an additional £6,000 to help cover our overspend which occurred when we decided to make the building much more substantial than was originally planned. It will last for many years and now has provision to add a second storey at a later date. The final stage will be electric fittings and plumbing, painting and adding cupboards, shelves and furniture, plus the initial basic equipment. I am hoping we may be ready to open during June while I am still out there.


School Screening Exercise

Recently we had two young British doctors stay with us for a month, and instead of going to work at the hospital they spent their time giving every one of our school children a thorough medical examination that included eye and ear tests and recommending suitable treatment where needed.

This has given us a good base to start similar screening records for all the children in the area once we open our own centre.

We now need a dental technician to come and volunteer with us for a while as was last done a couple of years ago.

When we open the medical centre we will introduce more health education for the village adults as well as the children.

Bicycle Maintenance

A recent donation enabled a training course to be run especially to teach women how to repair and service bicycles.  

Ten teenage girls were chosen and after the course was completed they were each presented with certificates and two bicycle tool kits & pumps were sent  for them from the UK.

 

Thanks to the donors they now have an unusual skill that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

Vocational Training

At Uganda Lodge, we are now working on further plans to build and develop a multi-skill vocational training centre in Ruhanga. There are very few jobs available in the area or indeed throughout Uganda, however well-educated a person may become. By encouraging our youngsters to learn a trade, this will enable them to become self-employed and break free of relying on subsistence farming to support their future families. As families grow, plots of land get smaller and it becomes increasingly difficult for families to survive. 

We are looking for companies or groups who are keen to develop a social responsibility ethic and who would be interested in sponsoring the building and equipping of a classroom for a specific trade (carpentry, mechanics, building, tailoring, plumbing. metal-work etc)

Each classroom will cost about £10,000 to build and equip and like the Medical Centre it can be named after the sponsoring company. It is hoped that the sponsors will take an on-going interest and encourage members of their staff to go out to Ruhanga and perhaps assist with training staff and students. For more info and a mini building proposal please email me

Coffee Shop and Market Stalls

Part of the criteria for receiving funding for the Medical Centre is that it has to become self-funding within two years. To this end it’s suggested that we build a row of market stalls to rent out to community members and open a Coffee Shop that will attract passing motorists.

We now have building plans and proposals for these two developments. In the coffee shop we will have an additional room that will house a book and educational toy library; One of our supporters, Elaine, has just given us a  substantial donation in memory of her father, which will pay for building this additional room and a volunteer will be out later in the year to set it up. 

The coffee shop will have a kitchen and we will employ a suitably qualified caterer who in addition to serving will also teach young students both catering and customer service skills.

Again we are looking for a company who would be prepared to fund this, have the facility named after them and take an on-going interest. This would give the sponsoring company a lot of positive publicity and show their customers the good they are doing .The building start-up and costs would be around £15,000 for the coffee shop and the market stalls will cost about £1,500 each 

Plans for the next few months

We have started to build a large shelter near the school kitchen so that the children have a good place to eat their breakfast and lunch, especially when the sun is very hot or when its raining.

We have almost completed concrete ‘verandas’ or step at the rear of the long classroom block and around the other classrooms so water does not lie there and begin to creep up the walls.

The swampy area at the bottom of the Lodge and behind the school buildings is being filled in and raised, utilising many truck-loads of excess soil from the current road-widening scheme.

Once completed we will be asking the children to bring in a small clump of grass each day, so another large play area can be grassed over at no extra cost.

Once this work is completed volunteers(?), assisted by local labourers, can begin to dig out foundations for two new classrooms that will be needed by the beginning of 2014.

Fundraising

A number of people have donated various amounts on-line  or direct to our charity bank account and our grateful thanks goes to each and every one of you. Its possible to set up your own fundraising page or donate  at http://www.charitygiving.co.uk/annmcc-ugandalodge.

Recent fund raising ideas have been: School non-uniform days, cake bakes, sponsored walks, runs and cycle races, fancy dress parties, and collections instead of presents at birthdays, weddings, leaving work, and funerals.

One of our volunteers, Wendy, has set up monthly women’s coffee mornings (Ugandan of course) to buy monthly personal items for all our older girls.

Please contact me for other ideas and to know exactly what to collect for and how much is needed for a specific project.

Container from Aberdeen 

Our container in Aberdeen is starting to fill up with a van load of tool kits from the charity TWAM and some medical equipment. This is being sent out for free thanks to Angus McSween of Arjo Wiggins Fine Papers Ltd. I have now been offered free transport to move the massive pile of boxes up there that are currently stored at my home.

School Uniform and other donated items

Many thanks to Sally James who donated dozens of boxes of new but unwanted school uniform from her shop in Cobham.  If you can collect used school uniforms and get them delivered to me at Shepperton at no cost, I can get them out with volunteers free luggage allowances. Items particularly needed are as follows: White shirts & Polos all sizes, light blue aged 10 plus; blue, navy & black school sweaters, grey or navy skirts & shorts or trousers, all sizes of trainers and football boots. Please don’t buy new, a note in a school newsletter or lost property always gets in lots for free.

We especially need working laptops, mobile phones, and digital cameras all with chargers. Working film cameras and disposable ones are also wanted for a school competition being organised by a volunteer Colin.

Administration Help in Shepperton

Gail has taken on the job of child sponsorship while Hardika regularly updates our accounts. Duncan is re-vamping our websites & John is collating building quotations However I still have far more admin than I can keep up with so please email again if you think you can help and I haven’t re-contacted you. Ideally help would come from those who can visit me occasionally, but if that’s not possible we could still keep in touch by phone and email. I really am reluctant to pay a UK salary out of your donations if I can’t get more volunteers that may have to happen. You can see what has been achieved in a few short years, please help me to move ahead even further.

 

Thankyou for reading this far. An email reply would be much appreciated

 

Best Wishes to you all from Ann McCarthy +44 7867513588 and Denis Aheirwe +256 701536197

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