Dear friends I promised you some good news and here it is. With all the talk of the terrible Coronavirus I hope it’s welcome distraction for a few minutes!
Do you remember me visiting Good Luck Junior School in the village of Nawantumbi, during my visit to Uganda 🇺🇬in January? It was where one of my mosquito net deliveries was based? I showed you photos of the classrooms. They had walls made of mud and a roof made of thick rotting grass and so low that I could hardly stand up in the classrooms. Inside they were very dark and damp.
The people I met in the local community really impressed me and I felt I wanted to help the school if I possibly could. To avoid any expectations I asked my friend Innocent to assess what was needed discreetly during one of my visits to the school.
Then I started wondering where to get the necessary finance, to at least replace the roof. I turned once again to the wonderful Poynton Rotary Club and was very pleased when they gave me a donation towards the work. THANK YOU POYNTON ROTARY CLUB!
Once I knew this donation was available Innocent got a builder to give a more accurate estimate. We had assumed that a corrugated iron roof could just replace the thick rotten grass one but was advised that the mud walls could not support the weight of the heavy sheets especially as the mud needed replacing regularly. We were then given two options with estimates. One was to erect wooden supports on the outside of the mud walls to hold the metal roof, the cheapest of the options. The second was to build a completely new classroom block from scratch using wood poles for the uprights and rafters which would hold the roof sheets, and timber pieces for the walls, both available locally, and would make a much more substantial classroom block. This was a simple yet much more practical solution than the original one with the mud walls that need constant repairing, and the dark damp claustrophobic atmosphere inside, where the children did their studies, was unexceptionable to me once I’d experienced it!
The second idea also had the advantage of being able to relocate the classroom block further away from the road for the safety of the children, in particular the very young ones. This hazard had come into my ‘health and safety’ head when I had driven the pick-up to the school on two occasions.
Both quotations were more than the original one which wasn’t surprising. I considered the alternative structures and decided that the newly built and relocated classrooms were far more sensible and much longer lasting, but quite a lot more than the Rotary donation which had been for the initial estimate. However I was able to make up difference from my project funds.
There has been a bonus for the school too as Innocent has arranged for the offcuts of the poles and wood from building the classrooms to be used to make a pig sty that he will help to build as soon as he is able. Before I left Uganda I had told Innocent that I personally wanted to start a pig project at the school as a way to earn extra money to pay the teachers which is an ongoing problem in Uganda, families can’t afford even the smallest of fees so there is little money coming in to pay the teachers.
I was really pleased when Innocent told me the classroom block has been named Rotary Club as they have come to the rescue previously when a school roof blew off and have donated for lots of mosquito nets too!
Unfortunately there was no money to buy benches to enable the children to sit off the mud ground where there is always a risk of getting Jiggers, a tropical flea, the female of which burrows and lays eggs beneath the host’s skin, causing painful sores! Hopefully, some time in the near future I will be able to get donations for these too. Actually in one of the photos it looks like they have tables in front of them but when I commented about this to Innocent he told me these are the surplus pieces of wood to be used for the piggery and too rough for using for desks. They were just set up for the photos!
I look forward to being back at Good Luck Junior School next year as there are still many people in the village needing mosquito nets and women fempads. In the meantime please enjoy the photos and videos sent to me by Innocent.
May I take this opportunity to wish all of you the best during the coming very challenging year. Stay safe. Love to you all and thank you for continuing to support my efforts. x
Just a bit of bad news though, as expected Coronavirus is now in Uganda apparently brought in by a traveller from Dubai, and is now spreading particularly in the crowded city and big towns. All schools and institutions are closed until further notice, and events cancelled.
I’m hoping that in the villages where I am based the virus might not reach. Several of the young people we support in their education are now back in their village homes. It could be devastating if it does reach the outlying villages. Just the fact that there is no running water for easy hand washing and of course little or no medical help if people get very sick. I have given them advice based on what we have learnt and are still learning and the Ugandan government is also doing this. We can only hope and pray. x
I’m having trouble posting videos again but will try again later! Please click on first photo to start slideshow with captions on photos.