Dear Friends, supporters of my work in Uganda,
I apologies again for not keeping in touch over the past few months. I have had a lot of thinking to do and decisions to make about St James. As you know there have been problems over the last eighteen months with lack of latrines after a big tree demolished them in a storm causing the school to be closed for a year with the exception of a few older children who were due to take their national Leavers Exams, which they did last November. Well the very good news is that the new latrines are now complete, including ones for the disabled, so that the school has been able to re-open.
Since February the children have gradually returned to the school. Many had been travelling to other schools and others not attending school at all during the last year, so the re-opening of St James is a blessing.
Thank you for all your support since the founding of St James in 2008 when there was no local school and James set one up. He gave the first lessons under a mango tree and then you came on board to build the first classrooms and eventually a whole school, registered with the Government and also qualified as National Exam Sitting Centre! I can’t quite believe it but we did! We have achieved so much and we did it with love and enthusiasm and have already provided hundreds of children with an education they would otherwise not have had. Some children have even progressed to Secondary School, which is so pleasing. Congratulations to you all!
Over the nine years we have built classrooms, a library, an office block, latrines, dormitories, a kitchen with a wood-saving stove and a canteen. Our latest achievement is completing the building of Joy Clinic. With the basic structure complete the community can now apply for help from local government to staff and equip the clinic which will enable the community to have medical help for the first time in many years, and once again babies will be born at St James as they were when James’ late wife Joy, a midwife, served the community.
We have also secured the school with fences and a big metal gate. We’ve donated cows, goats, pigs and chickens for the animal projects that raise funds and subsidise the children’s feeding.
You have given the school desks & blackboards, educational materials and equipment for games, tools for cultivating the land to help provide a meal for the children every day, clothes and shoes for those who have so little and, significantly, donated hundreds of mosquito nets that must have saved many in the village from the terrible sickness of Malaria, and undoubtedly saved lives.
Solar power has been installed so that many of the buildings have light so the children can study at night and to power computers etc. And of course the most valuable of all a borehole has been sunk 80 metres down, providing freshclean water for many, many years ahead!
Together we have given the village of Nakakabala a wonderful school that has infrastructure and facilities way above the standards of most other schools in the district, enabling St James to earn its own income.
James has retired and new administration is now in place. After much thought and discussion with my family and close friends I have decided that it is now time for me to move on and leave the School Management Committee, the PTA and the community to take the school forward. Self-sufficiency was always my intention and with good management it can be achieved. We’ve done all we can to provide the community with all the facilities a school in Uganda needs and it is now time for them to run it themselves which was always my aim.
While I look forward to hearing news of the schools’ ongoing development I believe my knowledge and skills can be now utilised at other under resourced schools doing small projects. For instance if the school/s I get involved with now have small problems such as a hole in their corrugated roof sheets or need reading books I could try to help them out. But I will not be building another school! I am still a big believer in providing mosquito nets too so this will be an ongoing project. £5 can save a family’s life. Not a lot is it!
I also want to get back to what I love doing and that is spending time with the children, helping them improve their English through art, crafts, drama, song and games. Basically having fun! That is the reason I first went out to Uganda in 2002, fifteen years ago, and that is where I am most happiest.
As I move on from St James I am still going to be visiting Uganda annually as the country has become my second home and I have my Ugandan ‘family’ who mean a lot to me. I look forward to continuing my work to help those less fortunate than ourselves, and to this end would ask if you might consider sticking with me whilst I identify the needs of new schools or communities and build up a relationship with them. I would love the opportunity to help another Ugandan school deliver much needed education to a rural community but, as I mentioned previously, I will not be building another school from scratch!
So to find out what my future in Uganda will be, watch this space! I would love to receive responses from you too.