Your opinion please😊about another way to raise funds!

Dear friends
I’ve had an idea and I would like your opinion on it please. Today was my friend Helen’s birthday and last year I got Innocent to take a photo and video of the children at Good Luck Junior School wishing her a happy 50th which I’m sure she would have enjoyed receiving. The previous year Innocent had sent me the same wishing me a happy 70th which I loved!
Also in the past I’ve had several people who don’t know what to give their friends or relatives on birthdays, anniversaries or at Christmas so have donated towards whatever we are working on at the time and asked if I can I send a greeting explaining their ‘alternative’ birthday gift. And of course we’ve had the mosquito nets and desks sponsored as an alternative gift too which raised precious funds.
Please look at the video and photos and tell me if you think it could be a good idea. Innocent says he is very willing to do the job for us.
Looking forward to hearing from you x

Your opinion please😊about another way to raise funds!

Dear friends
I’ve had an idea and I would like your opinion on it please. Today was my friend Helen’s birthday and last year I got Innocent to take a photo and video of the children at Good Luck Junior School wishing her a happy 50th which I’m sure she would have enjoyed receiving. The previous year Innocent had sent me the same wishing me a happy 70th which I loved!
Also in the past I’ve had several people who don’t know what to give their friends or relatives on birthdays, anniversaries or at Christmas so have donated towards whatever we are working on at the time and asked if I can I send a greeting explaining their ‘alternative’ birthday gift. And of course we’ve had the mosquito nets and desks sponsored as an alternative gift too which raised precious funds.
Please look at the video and photos and tell me if you think it could be a good idea. Innocent says he is very willing to do the job for us.
Looking forward to hearing from you x

A good news update! Enjoy!Good Luck Junior School and Paul!

A good news update! Enjoy!Good Luck Junior School and Paul!

1 – Firstly the very good news from Paul
This is the message Paul sent me on 21st February.
‘Hello mum
A good morning over there, it is really a good morning over here. Our results have been released today morning officially and I have passed them all without any retake in any course unit
Here is the summary
Internal medicine-69
Obstetrics and gynecology-63
Then my GPA is 3.62

WOW was my first reaction, and then almost but not quite tears of joy! He has done so so well! I of course congratulated him then he replied with ‘Thank you so much too for making all this happen, I wouldn’t do this without your support sincerely.
Am always and will always be thankful to you🙏🙏🙏
I really appreciate everything.’


Then this morning I received the following –
‘Hello mum
A good morning over there, I do hope your morning is very fine.
This message is to let you know how special you are to me, you took me in back then when I didn’t even have anything, I was quite hopeless by then, didn’t even know how to read or write.
But as a mother, you didn’t consider anything about the latter but rather decided to sharpen my future by taking me to school since then up to now. You have done everything to make sure am in school and didn’t lack anything while there.
I can’t say it all but this message is to let you know that I love you so much and I wish you a Happy woman’s day mum🤓. I don’t know how you are going to celebrate it but may it bring you happiness.’
This message is the only ‘reward’ I need to continue helping to educate some young people in Uganda. Whatever standard they achieve is well worth what we are able to offer them.
Thank you 😊 to all of you who have contributed to Paul’s success and for the help you are giving the other students. Others might not achieve the results like Paul but any education helps to lift them out of the poverty they and their families suffer. Even gaining their Primary 7 Leavers Certificate at the age of 14 can lead them to a job.

2 – GLJS – Innocent reports that there are now 160 children at the school, that’s 60 more than this time last year! These make up Nursery to year 7, when the children have a chance, in November, to take their National Leavers Exams enabling them to go to secondary school. It’s so good that a simple village school like this is giving the children the opportunity of the full range of primary classes, and hopefully achieving their National Primary Leavers Certificate.

This has only happened because of your donations to pay the salaries of the teachers as the parents couldn’t pay the school fees. Many parents are still struggling to pay the full fees but the situation is so much better than it was in recent years. We still need to sub the fees of many but at least things are moving in the right direction. Thanks for all your donations and please continue to give this help if you possibly can. Thanks especially those who have set up regular standing orders as it helps us assess the future, could you consider this regular donation please? I have enough in the account to help with the fees for another five months, until June.

I know we can’t go on subbing the school forever but let’s see if by helping them on their way the school can become self sufficient. They know that they do have to take full responsibility eventually though!

Children arriving at school
The teachers. Ibra the head on the right.
Innocent, standing on the right, had just paid them their February salaries and they sent their thanks to us all.
The teachers sign to say they’ve received their salaries

Having more children attending has meant the need for extra classroom space and, forever resourceful Ibra, the head teacher, has partitioned each of the present three classrooms into two using plywood. Not ideal but needs must. He has also recruited two extra teachers to cover the two extra classes of older children.

The classrooms divided into two for extra classes
Innocent explains how they have divided the classrooms adding new blackboards , though they need to buy black paint to finish them off
Because we are subbing the teachers wages, Ibra has also been in position to clear the license fees demanded by the government each year, and has had a school sign made too which is really smart!

The school cook has found it very uncomfortable cooking in the open with no shade from the scorching sun or shelter from the heavy rains. Don’t blame her! So during the extended school holiday due to Ebola, Ibra made a mud kitchen too! The children are given a cooked meal every day, maybe the only meal they will get!

Video showing the new kitchen which also shelters the wood fire from the wind!

ENORMOUS THANKS again to all of you who have helped Paul and are still helping him on his journey to find a job, to donating towards the other sponsored students and for your kind donations towards Good Luck Junior School. What a difference we have made! Please consider making a further one off donation or a regular donation towards helping the children in Uganda whose lives we are changing for the better!
Thank you or as the children say Asante sana!

My first 2023 Uganda update, rather long but I hope interesting!

1 – Two operations

2 – Ebola

3 – Good Luck Junior School

4 – Progress of our sponsored students!

1 – Two operations!

Dear friends sorry for the delay in writing an update, it’s been a difficult couple of months. I won’t give you the gory details but just tell you that Innocent and I have both survived! Innocent’s experience 4000 miles away in Uganda was very different to mine in a modern hospital in the UK but I think he probably moaned less than me, they’re made of tougher stuff out there!!

Soon after the operation Innocent went back to his village to recuperate with his mum helping to care for him just as she did in hospital where the nurses don’t play a caring role as they do here. You only get fed, washed, etc if a member of your family are there to look after you! Often you see whole families camped outside hospitals while their loved ones are having treatment inside.

Innocent will return to the hospital for a check up and possibly some physio sometime soon. Knowing him he’ll be very frustrated not being able to carry out work round his farm and be the usual hands-on dad and carer for his family. He’s being seriously nagged by me regularly to be patient and let his body heal after the trauma it’s suffered over the last few months. Obviously I would love him never to get anymore seizures but being realistic I know I can only hope sincerely that he gets no more before his arm is strong enough to take the falls! Any prayers and thoughts for him will be appreciated.

I will always be so grateful to Bosco who found a qualified surgeon to operate on Innocent after the terrible experience he had using ‘local’ method of repairing broken bones! He was very very scared about the anaesthetic though, believing he wouldn’t wake up again. The local ways used no anaesthesia and just involve daily massage and bandages made taught by turning sticks!

It was good that I ended up having my operation a day before Innocent as it encouraged him to go ahead too, though Bosco said it was rather touch and go right up until the last minute especially as he had been listening to people in his village had been discouraging him by talking about the benefits of traditional medicine and witchcraft! But I really felt Innocent and I were there for each other!

Looking a lot better than before the op!
Innocent with his elderly grandma and looking much happier with his new arm!

2 – Ebola – the good news is that the restrictions caused by the Ebola outbreak have been lifted and schools are opening again, which is the beginning of the Ugandan school year.

3 – Good Luck Junior School
I sent money to Innocent to pay the teachers at Good Luck Junior School half wages for December and will be doing the same this week for January. This encourages them to turn up promptly at the start of term! Ugandan’s are not known for their time keeping!!

Registration for pupils has started but Innocent tells me ‘actually registration in the villages here is done mostly when school starts, this is when the parents feel that responsibility more.’ Although between you lovely supporters and Norman and I, we now have enough money to subsidise the fees of the children for another six months so the teachers will continue to be paid and the children will get a meal every day! The parents don’t know money is coming from the UK. We know most will not be able to pay full fees and some maybe not able to pay anything at all at the moment. But this is all kept private so that there will be no jealousy! Everyone is encouraged to pay what they can and Ibrahim the head teacher, knows each family’s circumstances.
Innocent commented that ‘all are trying their best as they want their children to receive an education.’ Parents told him that they really wanted to ‘clear their fees but with the current crisis it is impossible’ and that they ‘have now stopped buying sugar and salt because of the cost! Thanks to all of you who have and still are helping this little school survive giving the children in this village an education they wouldn’t have been able to have. Realistically I know we can’t keep subbing the school for ever but would like to give them a year or two more support to give them the opportunity to work out they can stand on their own.

With Innocent’s health problems he has only been able to visit the school once where he witnessed the building of foundations for an office/staff room being built. 130,000 (£30 approx) had been raised at the nursery graduation ceremony at the end of November and Ibrahim decided to start the construction.
Innocent wrote: ‘Ibra decided to start brick laying so we could have some bricks ready for the construction by the end of the long holiday however the money that was raised isn’t enough to even fund the brick laying project, as of now 3,000 bricks have been laid.
‘In the brick laying project Ibra needed to pay boys who help in things like; digging the soil, preparing the soil, laying down the bricks , fetching water and after the bricks are laid and are dry enough to be burnt wood is bought to do the burning.’
They haven’t got very far with their building project but I always admire them trying to improve the school themselves. Hopefully once the school is in a more stable position eg all fees are being paid by the parents, we might be able to help them develop the school more, but the financial position for most people is very difficult out there.

The children will be looking forward to going back to school

4 – Our sponsored students
The five young people we sponsor with help from some of you, also go back to school. All are progressing well. One, Emma, has passed his exams to go up to secondary school. This is a big achievement for Emma as he is 3 years behind his peers having started primary school late, and along with Covid and his own health problems he’s had a big job on his hands. It’s wonderful knowing that we are giving these sponsored children the possibility of a better future which they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Looking back on photos of Emma since I first met him

This is Emma. I woke up to find him at the bottom of my bed chasing this goat out of the little mud house I slept in when I stayed with his family for Christmas one year!
I had taken him some popcorn from the nearest town. He shared it with his best friend who was very scared of me, a Muzungu (white woman)! I remember they ate it very slowly because it was such a treat.
Emma under the family jackfruit tree. They never went hungry during the jackfruit and mango season!
Emma with some of his friends. Notice the machete he is carrying. They soon learn how to use them and do lots of jobs around the home and farm!
Emma and I walking back from their garden (fields)
Emma off to school on a boda taxi bike, with everything he needs for the term including his mattress
This photo was taken early 2020, the last time I was in Uganda 🇺🇬
With his mum and neighbours and below collecting water from the borehole

Emma’s certificate qualifying him for secondary school! The search is now on to find him a suitable secondary school!

Paul – This week Paul, currently our eldest sponsored student took his final exams at uni. He has had his struggles too but has done amazingly well. We will still need to support him as he awaits his results, applies for his licence to practice and then looks for a job. You would think with doing a course in Clinical Medicine and Community Health he would get a job no worries but it doesn’t work that way in Uganda! The country desperately needs more medics but, just like here in the UK, the Ugandan government doesn’t like to spend money! There are many private facilities in Uganda but most workers are extremely poorly paid with very long hours and very few days off, maybe only one every two weeks! Also these establishments don’t offer ways to progress in your career or have anything like pension schemes. Hopefully Paul will be the lucky one and get a government job! Enjoy the photos looking back on him over the years.

Paul stood at the back of his brothers on the motorbike that took me to his village for Christmas
On his way to school. Seems a long time ago now!
Writing a letter to one of his sponsors
Washing up at home
Working at the field clinic
At home spraying the beans and below helping his mum harvest maize. The drought has been long so yield was low, again!
Paul, with the red tie, with colleagues looking very happy and relaxed after finishing their exams!

Latest news from Innocent who as you know helps me with my projects (we previously sponsored him through uni but no one will employ him because of his epilepsy!) He’s just had another X-ray and it showed his bones mended. Relief all round! The doc says because his arm is very strong he can start lifting 5kg and then after another two months 100kg! Innocent has asked me to thank those of you who helped my hubby and I pay for his operation. Well worth the £800 it cost to prevent him losing his arm and being crippled for life, an enormous disadvantage when you are a farmer!
I am very grateful too as without Innocent I couldn’t carry on with my projects. I also live in his little house while in Uganda. No running water or electric but Innocent and his family make my stay as comfortable as possible.

Hope you’re still with me!

I’ve just had a very happy and heart felt message from Paul!
‘Hello mum and dad
How are you doing today? I do hope today it’s a very beautiful day for you over there. It’s sunny over here, very bright and joyful I can say.
Today I have written my last exam which was my research defence and hopefully I think I have passed it as I gave it my best.
‘I would love to wholeheartedly leave this sincere message here reading that ‘am very grateful and thankful to you all for everything you have sacrificed for me to reach this level of my education. Even in the hardest times, u didn’t let me down, u were there for me. Sent me everything I needed for school in time, am heartful very appreciative for everything. I don’t even know where I would be without your support, you have given me everything that I don’t think I will ever be able to repay in any way possible.
‘We’ll The only thing I do is pray to God to bless endlessly each time I kneel down to pray, I know mum isn’t in a good condition currently but I know you are strong lady and will get through this.
I love you so much and I thank you so much for everything🙏🤓🤓🤓 Paul’.

I am so proud and happy at what Paul has achieved even though he started primary school late, couldn’t speak English which is necessary as all lessons and exams are in English, and had never owned a book living in a home and village where no one could read.
It is so rewarding sponsoring children through their school days in Uganda, allowing them to go to a good school where they get the education they deserve. If a child doesn’t have a father they are classed as orphans, mums traditionally stay at home looking after the family and farms and are unable to afford to go to a decent school. Paul, Emma and the other children we have sponsored over the years, come from very poor homes and before we intervened were lucky to get a meal every day. It’s wonderful watching them grow up from the children who have no way of climbing out of the poverty they were born into, and into a life of hope. We see them gain confidence in learning and giving them a much better start in life. Over the years with a little financial help when they leave school, collage or uni, all and of our students gained employment or started a business. One developed a taxi & tour business, another trained as a mechanic. One gained a degree in computer studies and another, who wasn’t keen on study, started a market stall in Kampala. Then there is Bosco who I often mention who is now a nurse as well as volunteering at a dental clinic. I keep in regular contact with some of the young people who help me with my projects and who I often rely on when I go to Uganda!

If any of you think you would like to get involved with helping one of the children we sponsor in Uganda please get in touch. The rewards on both sides are immense!

Well that’s about all the news from me. Thanks to all of you who support my projects in Uganda 🇺🇬, you’re helping make a difference to people’s lives!

GLJS, EBOLA, INNOCENT, Happy 14th GERRY Mukisa & my knee!

Dear friends,
I’m very pleased so many of you enjoyed the post and videos of Graduation Day at Good Luck Junior School. Thank you for all your lovely comments both on here and on my private WhatsApp. That little school has come a long way over the last 2-3 years because of your support, just look at the photos I’ve added to remind you of the improvements we’ve made to GLJS since I first came across the school in January 2020 when my mosquito 🦟 net distribution was based at the school. Pre-Covid! It seems so long ago!

The old classrooms were collapsing. Dark, dingy and dangerous!
The first block of new classrooms sponsored by Poynton Rotary Club
The old latrines were falling down, we’re full up and stinking!
The new latrines
Desks were sponsored and painted with sayings of your choice

But now to the more serious news:
EBOLA closes all schools in Uganda! Yes, the Ugandan government has ordered all schools to close because Ebola is spreading!
The end of the school year is not too far off anyway as the long break for Uganda schools is December and January.
Fortunately it worked out that Good Luck Junior School’s last day was that of the nursery Top Class Graduation Ceremony which everyone enjoyed. These children will be in Primary 1 when they return at the beginning of February, the start of the Ugandan school year.

THANK YOU for continuing to donate money to support my endeavours to keep the school fully open next year. We now have two thirds of what we need, just over £1000 short, but we’re getting there. I will be sending money out to give the teachers half pay during December and January, which they have accepted and are very grateful for.

Re Ebola-Thankfully there have been no cases of Ebola in the areas I live and work in, though there have been some in Jinja District not too far away where some of my friends live such as Godfrey who has given me much guidance over my years in Uganda and Bosco the nurse who we sponsored in the past. Of course student Paul who is working in a hospital in an affected area towards the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the Ebola virus came from, is at more risk but hopefully he will stay well.

At the end of August Innocent was involved in a road accident leaving him with various injuries including a broken arm. He went to the local clinic for treatment where they used the traditional method of healing of daily massage of the limb (ouch!) and binding with bandages using rough sticks to get the tension! I’ve been told and can just imagine how painful this sort of treatment is, but that is all that is on offer in many areas of Uganda unless you have money.
As soon as I learnt about it I persuaded him to go to the community hospital in Kamuli, the nearest town, but unfortunately it was too late to get it set in plaster so he has been left with a deformed and weakened limb. This wasn’t the end of his problems as two weeks ago he had a seizure (he is epileptic) and as he recovered he’s realised by the pain that he had broken his arm again! No-one in Kamuli hospital is qualified or capable of giving him the treatment he now needs, which is to pin the bone while it heals. I asked nurse Bosco for advice and through his hospital contacts he has found an orthopaedic surgeon in Jinja town who is qualified, but it would cost 3.5 million Ugandan Shillings. This is approximately £800 which is a fortune to Innocent! Are you able to help me with this bill please? I have given the go-ahead for the operation as without it Innocent would be crippled for life and, being unable to do the heavy work as a farmer, would be unable to look after himself and his family. Of course i would miss the support he gives us with my projects very much too!

Innocent in happier times overseeing the delivery of bricks for the latrines, one of his many jobs for us

HAPPIER NEWS – my lovely sweet intelligent caring namesake Gerry Mukisa (Blessed) is 14 today! Her Dad Patrick is the man who helped me fall in love with Uganda in 2002 when he took me under his wing during my first visit and showed me the real people, the real Uganda beyond the walls of the English-run Children’s home I was based at. Thank you Patrick for leading me to such a fulfilling life!

Happy 14th birthday Gerry Mukisa!

When I first started writing this post my news was that I have a new date for my knee replacement 15th February, that this seemed a long way off but that time seems to fly these days! Then I had a surprise phone call to say they had a cancellation and would I like the op on Saturday, 3rd December! Of course I accepted straight away! Fingers crossed I pass the pre op and Covid tests!

Being realistic this still means my visit to Uganda will be during our summer months rather than spring but it’s sounding more hopeful.

CHRISTMAS!🎄Yes my Christmas shopping will be an online affair this year as I don’t want to be responsible for tripping other customers up with my crutches! As usual I will be sending my Christmas greetings online too and donating 50p for every local card not sent and £1 for one that would’ve needed postage, so that should help school funds a quite a bit. I’m grateful to my friend Anne who has offered to do the same this year too. Thanks Anne. If anyone fancies joining us I’d be grateful, and of course the environment will be too!

That’s about all for now. Thanks for your support to help keep Good Luck Junior School running next year, and hoping that you can squeeze a bit more out to help me help Innocent please.

Love and many thanks to you all xxx

PS – Some of you know my story from the beginning but many have joined in recent years. If you are one of the ‘newer’
supporters and would like to know a bit more about particular parts of my history in Uganda or particular people, for instance my story with Patrick or how and why I got to know Innocent, please just ask.