Uganda Lodge Newsletter April 2017

Hello to all our friends and supporters,

Welcome to our new readers especially those of you who have recently started sponsoring our children or have inquired about volunteering with us in Uganda. Its not necessary to go through a large company that does lots of expensive advertising and charges you high admin fees. Now you have found out about ‘Uganda Lodge’ you can book to volunteer or simply have  ’A Holiday with a Difference’  at a surprisingly affordable price. You can spend 2 or 3 weeks in Africa, include a safari with our Director Denis Aheirwe, and still only spend around £1,000 including flights. Several weeks is ideal for volunteering, but we do accept visitors for any length of time from a few days to a few months.

Will you promote ‘Uganda Lodge’ on your university or works notice board as a place to go for an African  ‘Holiday with a Difference’ and somewhere that is both safe to stay and is OK to visit either alone or with a group of friends? Email me for a flyer that you can print out plus an information  booklet and an application form. As many of you already know, all profits made go towards helping rural communities in Western Uganda. See www.volunteerinuganda.org  

All the children have settled back into school after their long Christmas holidays and because of our excellent Primary Leaving exam results (100% pass rate) we have many new ones registering with us. However we cannot keep the school fees at the current low level that is affordable for even the worst off families unless we quickly find some more new sponsors. My hope is that if everyone reading this could find just one new person willing to donate £5 per month and help support another child then we could continue to offer a high standard of education to these rural children. They come mainly from subsistence farming families, and many of the parents care for orphans as well as their own children.  A decent education where every child is able to pass the Primary Education Exams is usually only available to better off members of the community with well-paid jobs and living in the towns. To support one or more of these children see www.sponsorachild.co.uk  We will send out details of a new child to those of you whose current child has left as soon as possible but please be assured that  all of your money is still going into the school fund to help pay the monthly expenses for all the other children. 

An extra bonus that we are able to provide to the 500 children at our school includes a free mug of porridge every morning as most do not get any breakfast. Thanks to continued support from ASE Consulting Ltd they all have access to free medical screening and general health-care as well. Michelle Dent, a recent volunteer who is an orthoptist, taught about eye care and tested the  vision of almost 700 children and teachers in the 2 weeks she stayed with us. She supplied correctly fitted glasses to a good number of them and thanks to donations she collected from her UK friends is also funding necessary eye operations to three children. 

The upper classes have added gardening to their timetables again and are planting beans, cabbages  and maize in the hope that this will reduce the cost of purchasing food for their meals in the coming months. I can see they are good at digging; however we do need to buy new hoes, spades and watering cans as well as the necessary seeds.

We had a very sad event this week; one of our newest children in Baby Class was on his way home from school with his friends when he was knocked down by a speeding vehicle and he died immediately. Many of his friends  walked a long way over the hills to the funeral to say goodbye and one of our volunteers made some lovely paper flowers for them to put on the coffin. In an ideal world we would have a much larger newer SCHOOL BUS that would enable us to pick-up many more children and thus they would not be walking alongside a busy main road to school every day. Do you know any companies that would like to have their name on a very important vehicle in Uganda???

On a happier note,  two of our teachers – Allen & Benson – have restarted Scouting activities at the school and they are hoping that they can receive some donations from you that will enable them to again enter the District Camping weekend. Many of you may remember the boys & girls patrols  came first & second last year. Please let me know if you would like to support them again; the whole camping weekend for 20 Scouts & leaders will cost around £200.

We had a group of 12 Norwegian students stay with us for a week and as well as helping in the school they went on safari with Denis. Then with only a couple of hours notice we hosted a group of 45 cyclists and their support vehicles for a night. They rented all our spare rooms, almost drank our bar dry and enjoyed impromptu entertainment from our school boarders in the evening. We need someone to promote Uganda Lodge to all the overland companies that pass our gates each month.

We are busy making some changes to our Vocation Centre. One of the workshop-style classrooms is now offering tailoring for 3 days a week and knitting lessons on the other 3 days. They are making shirts/shorts/skirts and sweaters for those of our  school students who can afford the cost of materials for the smart new orange & brown uniforms. But many still have to make do with a mix of different uniforms that are kindly donated by UK schools. BA have stopped flying to Entebbe, so getting these donated UK uniforms out there is a big challenge, but I still try. The second room at the Vocation Centre has been used for both computing and bicycle repairs and we also made a cargo bicycle and a trailer but we need a new teacher for that work. Potential students are asking to learn about vehicle servicing and repairs. Denis has identified a good mechanics teacher willing to relocate from Kampala and we are now digging an inspection pit so we can offer this service & attract more students willing to pay to learn. This should be ready in the near future.

The foundations for two new classrooms at the Primary School are still awaiting money to continue but we are getting promises of fundraising from some volunteers who have booked to come this summer, and who hope to do some building themselves.  We need some volunteer builders to fundraise and then come out to work alongside them & the local tradesmen. https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/ugandaclassrooms

Denis’s land where he has opened two camping sites within Queen Elizabeth national Park on the shores of Lake George & Lake Edward are now getting a few regular visitors as they are both mentioned in the new Bradt Guide book to Uganda www.ugandalodge.com/lake-retreat   Small cottages are slowly being completed  and when opened  they will bring in a good income that will help the nearby  fishing communities  plus our projects in Ruhanga. Accommodation in and around all the National Parks is much more expensive than in the rest of Uganda, so budget options like we are offering are very popular.

As mentioned in previous newsletters, Denis also owns  land adjoining  a salt lake (Bunyampaka) in Kasese  He now has all the necessary permissions to build and operate a plant to mine the salt and then process it into white table salt. Currently 30 million Ugandans all rely on imported salt from Kenya, so there is a massive potential for investment and long-term profits here. If you have any contacts that may be looking for new large-scale developments to fund, we have a draft proposal ready. When this project gets started it will benefit many hundreds of villagers in some of the poorest communities in Uganda. 

Meanwhile our children at Ruhanga Development School need your help NOW, both for finding new sponsors and to promote Uganda Lodge to more volunteers and other visitors.  All ages, nationalities and backgrounds are welcome; you do not need any previous experience to help these children to speak better English, play sports & games, and help organise arts & craft sessions. Last month we welcomed back Faridah again as our volunteer coordinator, along with her baby son Andy, so all our visitors are now being well looked after during their stay in Ruhanga.

We had a lovely surprise last week when one of our past volunteers contacted me – Katie Shearlock. Sadly her Grandad had passed away recently, but instead of flowers she agreed with her Nan that they would ask for donations for our school. This legacy of more than £1,000 will last for many years and benefit hundreds of children as It is going towards the new classrooms. Thank you so much Katie and all  your family.

Do you ever buy anything online?  Our charity (Uganda Lodge Community Projects) is registered with  www.easyfundraising.org.uk and has already raised £35 in a couple of weeks. Please make your purchases from Amazon, Ebay etc through them and let these big companies give us some donations. Janet on admin@ugandalodge.com can talk you through how to set it up if you have problems.

Can you get to Teddington on 13th May and  support the FAMILY FUN DAY Karen Perry and Friends are organising to raise money for our NEW CLASSROOM BUILD?

If you live too far away then how about your asking friends to donate some clothes, toys and Bric-a-Brac and selling them at a local CAR BOOT SALE (Usually a discount for Charities)  Or maybe join a sponsored Run, Swim or Cycle Ride and create your own personal page on BTDonate

We held our charity AGM last week and welcomed a new trustee on board.  Michael Lindsay lives locally and has given us much technical help over a number of years.  In my last newsletter I listed many areas where we need more admin assistance, but found it hard to communicate whilst I was still out in Uganda. Please come back to me again as I am now home in the UK until the end of May. 

Many Thanks to all who have supported us over the past months 

Ann McCarthy & Denis Aheirwe