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!


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