A New Challenge!

Since I started visiting Brain Trust, a small school in Nawanyago, Uganda, I have made it my priority that when funds are available, to use them to try to give the children a healthier and therefore happier life. At the end of 2017 with your support, we rebuilt the latrines (toilets) which were totally inadequate. In fact if you remember, there were no latrines for the girls or the teachers at all and the boys ones were just a pile of rubble! We also provided a hand washing facility outside each latrine block and just as important, one near the kitchen so the cook could wash his or her hands when cooking the daily maize porridge ‘breakfast’ for all the children and staff. At the same time we put a roof over the school hall, which also acts as a community church, where previously there had only been bits of old sacking to protect the users from the rain and hot sunshine. (Please click on photos to enlarge)

We also started the mosquito net project in the September of 2017 and now every child who attends the school is provided with this life saving gift.

Head teacher Charles has emphasised to me several times what a difference these improvements have made to the health of every one. Sickness and therefore absenteeism has been cut dramatically. It feels really good to have this confirmed and to know we have made such an impact! THANK YOU to you all for you’re credible support. Nothing would have happened without it!

This February/March I carried out more mosquito net deliveries which include the ones given to any new children at Brain Trust, hitting the 1000th only a few days before I left Uganda! AMAZING!!

Also Poynton Rotary as well as donating for many nets, financed the re-roofing of the classrooms that house the older pupils, protecting them from the blazing sunshine and torrential rain storms. The flimsy roof had blown away in a storm shortly after I arrived in Uganda in February.

The new desks many of you sponsored have made it much better for the children to do their writing when before many would have sat and done their work on the mud floor or at best, have had to kneel on the mud and lean on rough wood benches.

Now I have a new ‘health’ challenge! It’s quite long but please read to the end.

This health problem came to my attention during my recent months stay in Uganda, when I experienced first hand the hot dry drought season while working at the school. I suffered with a sore throat, cough and the feeling of a permanently dry mouth, despite sipping at my water bottle all the time. This was the direct result of the dust that was swirling around and I was breathing in constantly. Every movement anyone made kicked off another cloud of dust and twice I even saw small whirl winds of dust moving across the school compound! I am only at the school for a short period of time each year but I can just imagine what breathing dust every day must do to the health of the children and staff.

The classrooms for the lower school, and the hall, are open to the elements and have mud floors so even when the children are sitting in their lessons they are breathing dust! Charles says many of the children regularly suffer with what he calls flu-like symptoms coughing, sneezing, watery eyes which I’ve noticed myself and also suffered! And I quote ‘breathing in high concentrations of dust over many years is thought to reduce lung function in the long term and contribute to disorders like chronic bronchitis and heart and lung disorders’. Not good!

Despite these conditions Head Teacher Charles and the teachers work hard for the pupils in their care. In fact last year the P7 class attained 9 first grade, 13 second grade and 3 third grades in the Uganda National Leavers Exams. All the children passed which means they qualify for secondary school, if of course it’s available to them.

We cannot do anything about the Uganda climate, and there are two dry seasons every year, but what would make an enormous difference to the children’s health and welfare is if they had permanent classrooms with brick walls and solid concrete floors. So this is what I am asking, do you think we could rise to this challenge to build a block of permanent classrooms? Please don’t stop reading here, the cost is very reasonable!

To reduce costs the plan would be to use the new roof and concrete pillars of the hall and extend lengthwise to create the four classrooms. By providing ‘partition doors’ two of the classrooms will have the capability of opening up into a hall for the school or for use as a church and for other community activities.

A rough estimate for the building is 24,000,000 Ugandan Shillings, £5000. (Please see the more detailed estimate in the attached spreadsheet.) This would give the four youngest classes, the most vulnerable pupils at Brain Trust, classrooms with brick walls and concrete floors reducing the movement of dust enormously. Metal shutters and secure metal doors would have the additional advantage of being able to leave educational charts and children’s work on display with much less fear of theft.

Do you think you could help me in any way to achieve this challenge? I think it will need the help of everyone who has been reading, ‘liking’ and feeling in any way interested in what I’ve been up to in Uganda to achieve this.

Maybe by spreading the word amongst your relatives, friends, colleagues you could find additional interest and support?
Or holding some sort of fund raiser specifically for this project?
Or getting your children’s school involved?
Or if you belong to a group or society invite me to speak about my work (and play!) in Uganda in exchange for a donation?
Or if you know anyone in the building trade, roofing, concrete, doors or similar type of industry who might be interested in making their company’s mark on Africa by sponsoring the building of these classrooms?

Please private message me with your comments and any suggestions you may have, and also what amount if any you are willing to pledge. I will keep you up to date periodically on how the appeal is going.

Please send NO MONEY at this stage as I will only be going ahead with this project if the whole cost of it is guaranteed in advance. I have promised myself and my family that I won’t take on any more long term projects in Uganda so I will only go ahead with the building of the classrooms if I can raise the funds within the next year and have the building completed while I am in Uganda next February/March or at the very latest February 2021, twenty years since my family challenged me to climb Kilimanjaro for my 50th birthday which ultimately led to me going to Uganda!

Please note I have not made any commitment to the school as I don’t want hopes raised then everyone disappointed if I don’t manage to raise enough to cover the costs of the new classrooms. Obviously my greatest wish is to be able to give these children the classrooms they deserve where they can learn in a healthy environment.

Thank you for reading this very long but important appeal! Please have a think about how you might be able me to help the children at Brain Trust Primary School in Nawanyago, Uganda!

I look forward to your reply and would appreciate your comments.

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