June newsletter part 1- new uniform, desks etc

The children at St James have returned for the second term of the school year and James tells me all is going well. He has just registered the older children for their National Leavers exams which they will sit in November, all hoping to qualify for secondary school. This year there are 30 candidates which is great news but brings with it a challenge of how to pay for their registration to the government. Only 13 of the candidates pay the 27,000 fee, the other 17 make small contributions in food etc. Finding the money is always a challenge for James and I often wonder how he manages it! One thing he won’t have to pay for is ‘sitting’ fee or transport as St James is now a Registered Exam Centre so hopefully several other schools will pay to use our facilities!

St James has a new uniform! James was getting comments from some of the parents that their children ‘disappeared’ in the chocolate brown uniform which I do agree with as often in my photos they were almost one colour! James and the PTA have chosen sunshine yellow to replace the dark brown. The girls wear a yellow dress with a khaki collar and the boys a yellow shirt with khaki collar and shorts. The dress and shirt have the school emblem printed on them. I must admit they look very good and very sunny! I have made this photo into birthday cards to sell for St James!

New desks in the new classrooms! The children love the new desks in their new classrooms that many of you helped to provide! For just £20 you can sponsor a desk too and have your name or the name of a friend or loved one painted on it just like the one in the photo!

Ceiling, solar and paint for Hambridge Hall! The school authorities have told James that we need to put the ceiling in the four classrooms plus paint it before the children sit their exams in November. This is a bit of a challenge as the ceiling alone will cost over 6million UGX (approx £1500) which doesn’t sound a lot but it is in Uganda and is a lot for us to raise! We will plod on, brick by brick & hopefully succeed!

St James June Newsletter part 2 – Joy Clinic, Amazing Gem, Gem’s accident!

Progress on Joy Clinic. Below is the latest photo of Joy Clinic. The walls of the treatment and delivery rooms are up and recently the roof went on. I learnt recently that Joys father was a doctor and when he saw her struggling to help the Nakakabala community, delivering babies in the tiny home where she and James lived with their six children, his greatest wish was for a clinic to be built. Lets hope he is looking down and seeing what is happening now! The photo is of Joy as a midwife. Everyone misses her so much!
We are still a long way from completing Joy Clinic with lots of fund raising still to do but once again we are receiving help …………Geminy Maw, a 26 year old from Macclesfield, who found us funds for the borehole last year, has taken on a challenge to cycle solo to ‘Berlin and Back on a Bike’ to raise awareness and money for Joy Clinic. Her motto is ‘Spreading Smiles Across the Miles’

and with her smile she certainly does that!

She has had an amazing time meeting amazing people. This saying ‘There are no strangers, only friends we have not met before’ comes to mind! Gem even ended up living with a family whose mum is a teacher and Gem spent a day in her school talking to the children about her life, her trip and Uganda! DO READ HER BLOG! httpsssatm.wordpress.com/om/ There is so much more to read about her trip and Gem herself!

Unfortunately, last week Gem had an accident. Everything was going very well and she had got as far as Bremen in north western Germany but then as she was crossing the city her front wheel got stuck in a tramline and with the heavily laden bike she came off falling hard on her left arm and was in a great deal of pain. She was soon surrounded by caring people and ended up staying with two of them. She had X-rays at the hospital and the good news is that nothing is broken ‘just’ badly bruised. She has been given pain killers and told to rest up for two weeks. She was so upset and disapointed, worrying about how things would turn out and that she wouldn’t raise the money she wanted to do for Joy Clinic. Typical Gem, she doesn’t want to let anyone down! She very sensibly is following doctors orders and after spending a few days resting has ‘got a ride’ to Hamburg to visit friends who weren’t on her route which is a bonus. Hamburg is famous for its street art and graffiti and someone did this special painting for Gem! Amazing!

I had another communication from Gem recently to say she is still in quite a lot of pain so has made the sensible decision to take more rest BUT knowing Gem as I do the saying ‘a change is as good as a rest’ comes to mind. This is what she wrote in her message today:

‘due to this accident tho i have connected with the people behind the bicycle movement in bremen hu have been great, they want to do a story on me, connect me with other people in hamburg or berlin and maybe cycle with me for a while when i leave bremen. i have also been asked to b the star in my own short movie as part of a 48hour movie making festival in hamburg so i am going to try and take my bike and mostly empty (as i cant manage the weight) panniers back to hamburg for the weekend and fingers crossed we get accepted and find a team to pull it together.
i am about to go to the city bike center where u can go and learn to fix ur bike for free and ask them to have a look over and make sure its all ok before I use it!
i also took part in a critical mass last friday in hamburg, where cyclist ride in a group and take over the road. i was one of about 4,000 and had a great time tho i couldnt do it on my bike and i was rather sore but still at the end it was well worth it!’

You can follow Gem’s Blog at httpsssatm.wordpress.com/om/ and please show your appreciation of her efforts by sponsoring her if you possibly can. Thank you!

June newsletter part 3 – Pigs, chickens, mangoes, snakes, etc. plus dates for your diary!

16 - Richmond Rovers FC donated footy strip to St James

Inter-School Activities The children at St James are becoming more and more involved with competition with other schools, most recently with sport and drama, in both cases doing very well. They wear with pride the donated football strip from Richmond Rovers and Poynton Football Clubs. This term they are taking part in singing and music events though they are lacking musical instruments, another challenge for us when the buildings are complete!

The pigs go on holiday! In February at the beginning of the school year James had to find temporary homes for the pigs and their offspring because he has employed two teachers and a cook who are Muslim and they were living at the school. Julius, the local brick maker and a close neighbour to the school, looked after the pigs. James has now found the staff accommodation elsewhere so our pigs are back in their rightful home in their recently built piggery. James is a very busy man having the big responsibility of looking after the children, the teachers and the animals, keeping them all happy!

George’s Den fills up again! My recent stay at St James was during the dry season in Uganda and James heard that a disease amongst chickens was spreading so he sold off all the chickens as they were likely to get it too. The risk has now passed and James is slowly re-stocking the chicken flock so those of you who have sponsored chickens will shortly be receiving a photo of your bird! He is trying a new breed of chicken called Kuroiler which apparently grows faster and lays more eggs! They are free-range, need no suppliments which would cost money and never stop to rest! Thanks for your sponsorship of the chickens and for those of you who sponsored goats and pigs too. The animal projects are crucial to St James and were started by Vernon buying ten goats way back in 2008!

Happy for rain! There has been a prolonged wet season which has enabled more planting of cassava, maize and sweet potatoes on the school land to help feed the children. All the land between the buildings will be cultivated, even inside any unfinished buildings will be used temporarily to maximize the growing area.

Sierra Exif JPEG

The maize looked very healthy but then deteriorated with the weather before it ripened

Using every spare piece of land including unfinished buildings to grow food!

The children working in the garden behind Hambridge Hall












Unfortunately much of the land around St James is swamp and gets water logged during the rains and during drought the texture of the soil is sandy and salty so not good for gardening! One day we hope to buy some additional land so that we can grow more food especially fruit and vegetables that we cannot grow at the moment.

Mangoes in Gerry’s Square! One fruit that is in plentiful supply this season is mangoes. They are everywhere so no-one is going hungry. Even the two big trees in Gerry’s Square under which James first started the school, are heavily laden. I hope they come again in December when I return to Uganda! Once you have tasted a mango straight off the tree the ones you buy in the UK are never the same!

Snakes! James reported that it had been so wet that snakes that normally live in the swamp are coming out onto the school compound and that they had already killed three poinsonous ones! The children keep the compound swept as clean as possible to prevent snakes hiding in any debri and I can see now just how important it is to do this!

Keeping the compound free of debris prevents snakes from hiding!

Parents help! The parents of the great majority of the children who come to St James are very poor and a few are destitute and unable to pay the tiny school fees so they come and help with the gardening and animals, or donate such things as firewood in exchange for their children coming to school. James is going to identify more parents who need this help and get them involved in other jobs around the school.

Official Opening of St James postponed! James and I had proposed to hold the official opening of St James In February 2016 but we now realise this would not be a good idea as it is the Ugandan Presidential Election and a time of possible unrest or worse. I had the unfortunate experience of travelling through Kampala to the airport a few days before the 2011 elections and it was very frightening! I will let you know when we decide on another date for the opening.

James has become a grandad again! Faith Joy Elizabeth was born last month, the third of James’ granddaughter to be named after his late wife Joy.

My friend, James Mutyaba. Without James’ love, care and sheer hard work many of the children in Nakakabala would still not be going to school. James sends his thanks to you and all his other friends in the UK for standing by him all the way. And a very big thank you from me too!

Dates for your diary! Saturday 18th July and Sunday 19th July (12-5pm)

167 Bramhall Moor Lane, Hazel Grove, Stockport, SK7 5BB. 0161 483 2704
Angela and David Brannan, friends and supporters of St James, are opening their garden as part of The National Garden Scheme to raise money for St James! I will be there serving tea and cakes and generally enjoying myself so please come along and join us for an hour or two in their beautiful garden.

Thank you once again for your interest and support for St James. It is now over seven years since it opened its ‘doors’ to the children of Nakakabala who were not getting any education. Many of these children went on to secondary school and all of them, without doubt benefitted from however long they attended and I am sure that when the time comes they will make sure their own children go to school! Education IS the route out of poverty!

I would love to hear your comments on our St James and our wonderful achievements so far and if you can sponsor a desk or an animal, or offer a donation for Gem’s bike ride to Berlin, then I and all those at St James and in the community with be very grateful.

Asante sana!

Hope to hear from you soon.

Love Gerry

Swimathon completed!

Dear Friends of St James

Thank you for sponsoring my swim for St James. During the 55 minute relay swim in which five of us swam a combined distance of 130 lengths of the 25 metre pool at Stockport Grammar School. Three of the swimmers were slowish but Richard, the team leader and I kept a good pace. I’ve never swam so fast! I was doing each 25 metre length in under 25 seconds, phew!

I was exhausted afterwards, with ‘wobbly’ legs but also felt good! I have never taken part in anything like this before, and I even got a certificate for my efforts!

Many of you have already given me your sponsorship so thanks for that. Those of you who have promised a donation to St James, can do so in cash; or cheque made out to BRICK by BRICK for St JAMES. My address is 3 Barclay Road, Poynton, Cheshire, SK12 1YY. If you wish to donate by bank transfer the details are below. Please let me know if you are doing a bank transfer then I can watch out for it and confirm receipt.

Thanks again. Love from me and all at St James!

Two days to go…. Swimathon for Joy Clinic!

Dear Friends of St James

Only two days to go before my swim to raise money to continue building a clinic for St James!

Thanks to all of you who have already received this email and have offered to sponsor my swim on Saturday. Please consider it if you have not yet done so. I hope you can help. Please read on……

Last Wednesday night I was invited to go to meet the Stockport Rotary Lamplighters and introduce them to my project at St James. They are very interested and want to book me for a presentation in a few months time when they have a free slot.

During the evening they were discussing the Swimathon to be held at Stockport Grammar School on 7th March to raise money for their favourite charities. I was asked if I would like to join one of their teams as they were short of numbers and that if I did I could keep any money I raised through sponsorship. So I am contacting all my friends to ask if you will once again please support St James by sponsoring me!

The Swimathon is on all day but I am on the 1.30 slot where I will join three others to swim as many lengths as we can in 55 minutes. I have no idea who the other swimmers are or how fast they swim so don’t know how many lengths I am likely to swim. If you are able to sponsor me it is probably best to do it for a set amount.

If you would like to know more please look at the Stockport Lamplighters Rotary website.

I will attaché my email and photos about Joy Clinic.

I look forward to hearing from you and to seeing you at Izzi’s wedding!


Love Gerry

Click here for YouTube link