Update on Uganda

Dear Friends
It’s been a while since I wrote to you but things have still been moving on in Uganda, though in different directions to those planned before the outbreak of COVID.

As a country they are not reporting big numbers of people affected but
things aren’t always as they first appear and speaking to my friends out there who live in ‘the real world’ things are very different on the ground.

The young people we support have not been to school or uni since March as many of the institutions are being used to isolate those who have contracted COVID or been near someone with the virus. The patients are forced to stay in the isolation centres for fourteen days, quite rightly, and are supposed to be well cared for but if you don’t have money or family nearby to look out for you then you are left to go hungry! I can’t imagine how it would be if you got really sick and needing help such as ventilation as the majority of hospitals just do not have the facilities at the best of times.

The Ugandan government have been laying down rules and giving advice for staying safe and avoiding the spread of the disease but are completely ignoring them themselves as they encourage people to congregate in huge numbers at rallies to hear the politicians rallying for support for the country’s general election in January, and as with Trumps America nothing is more important!!

I’m just hoping and praying that the heat, often dry heat, of Uganda and the mainly outdoor life will keep the virus numbers low until a vaccination is available to all. The alternative is too frightening to contemplate!

News about my friends, the young people we support in Uganda, and my projects, to follow.

Easyfundraising

Dear Friends
I’ve been introduced to ‘easyfundraising’ by my good friend and neighbour Andy who told me how easy it is to raise funds for my projects in Uganda simply by signing up to this charity fund raising shopping site. He’s used it himself.

easyfundraising.org.uk turns your everyday online shopping into donations for your good cause, at no cost to you. How? Just visit your favourite retailers through the easyfundraising website and then shop as normal. Once you’ve made a purchase the retailer will then make a small donation to your cause to say “thank you”.
So I’ve registered Gerry’s Uganda Projects and already started earning money every time I or one of my supporters shop online at one of the many stores and businesses-Amazon, EBay, John Lewis, Sainsbury’s, Argos, Asda, Tesco, M & S, Trainline, Waitrose, Travellodge, Next, Boots, Curry’s/PC Workd, Vodafone, Expedia, First Choice, Booking.com, Tui, and many more!
So if you do shop online and would like to support Gerry’s Uganda Projects, please do it through easyfundraiser.

Simply go to the website easyfundraising.org.uk

Search for ‘Gerry’s Uganda Projects’

Click ‘Support this cause’ then it will ask you to ‘create an account’.

Add donation reminder (it’s a download) which I think makes it easier the second time you do it!

Next screen is Let’s Get Started and do your shop from there.

I hope I have explained it accurately!

Thank you in anticipation of your support once again.

Gerry

Hello & shopping online

Dear Friends I hope you’re all keeping well and safe. I’m putting together an update which I hope I will complete soon but in the meantime I have been asked by my friend Marie to remind her of the fundraising site that donates to causes like mine every time you shop in one of the many many online outlets. As most of us have increased our online shopping enormously since March please would you consider signing up to have the companies donate to Gerry’s Uganda Projects? It’s really simple to do and at no risk or expense to yourself. I will forward the details I posted last time. Thanks to those who are already doing this, especially as I am unable to do other fund raising at the moment. With Black Friday approaching fast and Christmas just around the corner, this should raise good funds for my projects. Thank you so much. I’ll forward the info and be back again soon with my update. Love to you all.

Feeling happy, but with tears in my eyes!!

I had just posted the last update to you when I received a WhatsApp voice message from Nurse Bosco living and working in Jinja. It was almost as if it was in response to my post, but it was just a coincidence. What it did do though is bring tears to my eyes, tears of pride and happiness! If anyone wonders what the reason is for my involvement in and love of Uganda, then this says it all. I hope the message shares ok. X

Sometimes it can be a bit difficult to understand Bosco but basically he was telling me how many of his patients who need their treatment for IVF and other problems are unable to get into the clinic now because the government have banned all public transport during the pandemic including the use of the boda boda motorbike taxis. So Bosco has used some of the money I sent him to buy food for his own family to repair bicycles so he and his colleagues could deliver this service personally! How unselfish is that? X

He goes on to say ‘I know they (his patients) appreciate us but a lot of that appreciation goes to you because you are the initiator and the beginning of everything we are here. We are what we are because if you. You gave us encouragement ever since we were young. You encouraged us to persist and you are seeing the fruits and we appreciate so much. Thank you from the family. I pray to God that we pass through this situation and we meet again. I love you so much. Say hi to everyone at home.’

My heart bursts with pride for these young people in Uganda. OK with help from my family and wonderful sponsors, you know who you are (!), we have given them the finance to get an education but each of them has had to decide personally how to make the most of this gift and which paths to take along the way. They are the ones who have to put in the hard work which for all, has never been easy. They are the ones who have a final say in the decisions they make.

But wow, it’s still a great feeling that we have been able to give each and every one of them the opportunity to have that choice!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, which is feeling very squishy squashy at the moment!!

Helping to educate a child is never wasted. Education IS the route out of poverty!

Sorry the message didn’t share but if you’re on WhatsApp let me know and I can share it with you  x

The virus changes lives in Uganda.

Dear Friends, it’s been some time since I wrote to you. I wrote this message in particular for all the sponsors of the students, my ‘ family’, we support in Uganda but I hope you all find it interesting too.

I’ve been busy rearranging life for the young people in Uganda we support. It’s getting terrible out there though they are only at the beginning of  the virus spread. So many people are being beaten, whipped and worse and that’s not because they have the virus!! There is a 7 pm curfew and the police are beating people young or old, male or female (and heavily pregnant!) even if they just leave their doors open!

Basically it has became a police state overnight. The police are poorly trained and very poorly paid and seem to love the opportunity of throwing their weight about, unfortunately violently!

Thankfully most of my young friends are now home in their villages where I’m hoping it will be  safer but that wasn’t easy to achieve as all public transport was suddenly cancelled! The Ugandan government never seem to care what happens to the ordinary people, just those with money. It’s really upsetting me. Before long there is likely to be starvation in many areas too. I’ve sent money out for them all to buy in sacks of grain and beans to last a couple of months but even that is a problem as food is going to the highest bidder, and theft follows those who manage to buy. It’s horrendous!

Innocent had to close his bar two weeks ago and no motorised travelling is allowed unless you are delivering something essential, beer is not essential! He is keeping a close eye on his bar but we both know it will be ransacked sometime! I’ve just told him not to risk himself fighting anybody away. Life is just too precious. He, Betty, Alex and little Norman are working together on some land they rent to grow more crops both for themselves and their animals.

The small earnings Innocent made from the bar helped with feeding but now who knows when it will open again or if any of the local people will have any spare money to go there!

At the moment Innocent is trying to get Nico, the young man we started sponsoring this year, who is profoundly deaf, back from Kamuli. Nico is doing a carpentry apprenticeship and being helped with learning to communicate with the hearing by a wonderful teacher for the deaf who he is also boarding with. It seems the only way is to bribe one of the delivery trucks on their way back to Jinja to give Nico a lift back home to Nawanyago. Hoping he makes it back soon.

During this time at home I’ve asked Innocent to talk as much as possible in English to Alex, rather than their local language. Alex is the son of a distant relative with mental health issues who abandoned his family, whose wife then fell on very hard times not able to feed or educate her children. He now lives full time with Innocent, and has recently been sponsored by another wonderful lady, to go to secondary school. He is 16 but knows very little English which is crucial as all teaching, books and exams are in English. With Innocents help during the time of this virus I hope his English will improve so that he is able to get on better with his studies when he returns to school.

Paul, who is studying Clinical Medicine and Community Health at uni, travelled 400,000 km back from Western Uganda and arrived in his village just before the public transport was cancelled, so did his little brother Emma. Now they are at home busy helping their mum Monica with the garden (garden is what the Ugandan villagers call their fields). I’ve also asked Paul to give Emma English lessons to help him improve, as his lack of English language and reading is holding him back a bit at school too. Both Alex and Emma’s previous education was of a very low standard but they are very bright boys and love school.

Paul’s family get updates on the virus over the little battery run transistor radio I bought their mum years ago. Only problem is that the info is often rather worrying! The Ugandan government are telling everyone the emergency will be over by the end of April and that schools will reopen, which is only a few weeks away now, but I can’t see that happening without risking many more lives. Though they do not have many confirmed cases so far. I’ve warned my young friends they might not be back at uni/school any time soon, and also informed them about ways to keep safe. Fortunately they believe me and take my advice, though of course with no running water washing your hands regularly is more difficult than it is here!

Bosco was unable to get his wife and toddler back to the village so they are staying with him in Jinja town where Bosco is a nurse at one of the hospitals.

Mike who was working in a restaurant is now also working in a hospital as a ‘deep cleaner’, such an important job at the moment.

As well as being good friends I rely on these young people to look after me during my visits to Uganda.

Innocent, Paul, Mike and Bosco have also all helped me deliver the 1700 mosquito nets you have funded over the last two years too!

I am very proud of my family in Uganda and it’s all due to people like yourselves who help us to give them an education that they all desire. Thank you 😊

The virus spreading across Uganda is a great worry to me, I feel so useless sometimes but there’s no more we can do, except pray and hope, just as we’re doing for everyone here in the UK.

Love and hugs to you all and please, stay safe xxx Pease click on first photo for slideshow and captions

Since writing this I have received more news of Nico. He has gone to live with his teacher and his family so he can continue to have his lessons in communication. He is so happy as this is the first time in his life he has someone who understands him! He looks forward to returning to the workshop when things return to normal.

Also the government have taken steps to curb the police violence!