Uganda Lodge

Mother and grandmother and now semi-retired, Ann McCarthy first went to Ruhanga in south-west Uganda in 2005 when she was invited by her safari driver Mr Denis Aheirwe (below). He took her to see his compound – the family land given by his father – and immediately saw its potential. It is right on the main road that runs from Kampala to Rwanda and the home of the mountain gorillas, but it was in a rural area where passing visitors had no reason to stop.

Meet Denis

Denis’s dream was to build a Guest House so tourists would stay awhile and thus he could provide employment for his local village people. He was already employing men to make bricks, as the clay there is very good quality. Some bricks he sold and some he used to begin building his house. He introduced Ann to his family and friends in the village and she found them all so friendly and welcoming despite their poverty, that she was bowled over – all the rest of her spending money was soon gone in the local hardware shop buying cement, nails and iron sheets.

Denis and Ann talked over new ideas of how together they could even further help to raise the income levels of some of these impoverished farmers and the many orphans in the area. After returning to the UK, Ann did some fund-raising, and put in money of her own and was out there again after a few months

Getting Started
After completing the main rooms in the guest house – now the lounge, the bar and two staff rooms – they concentrated on getting four bedrooms built at the back. This started to generate a small income as it was adequate for local guests, although not of a standard suitable to invite volunteers. They needed to clean the whole place up and build better toilets and washrooms if they wanted to attract Mzungus (white people). She discovered that she could pay local men the equivalent of a pound a day for labouring and they would be queuing up for work, so she they got them filling in the holes left behind from making bricks, levelling out the land and generally getting it looking less like a building site. Soon there were many improvements with four individual African Bandas and a new toilet block nearby, together with a rare electricity supply and TV. By then the guest house was getting some more visitors and then came some volunteers which enabled them to build another two guest rooms at the far end of the compound.