So proud of my Ugandan friends Patrick and his wife Kevin – please read on!

So proud of my friends Patrick and his wife Kevin! Just received this message ‘Guess what is going on here?’

Can any of us, female or male, imagine what it must be like for girls and women not to have sanitary products easily available and affordable, for their monthly cycle? Well for the majority of females in Uganda, and I imagine other 3rd World Countries, it is the norm! Instead they have to use old rags, dried leaves, grass or paper – school girls sometimes tearing pages from school books.

Menstruation can be a life-restricting monthly event for women & girls, and the reason that girls do not attend school during their period in Uganda and women find it extremely difficult in the workplace. Also when girls start missing school they are far more likely to be exposed to other risks such as early pregnancy and marriage, and contracting HIV/AIDS.

If you remember, on the last day in Uganda, on my way to Entebbe airport, I visited Patrick in Kampala, where he and Kevin have a project teaching ladies who have had little or no education, the basic 3R’s. They also learn skills that could help them earn a living such as hairdressing, tailoring, basic computer and the latest knitting (many of you donated wool and needles!).

Before I left the UK for my trip to Ugandan in February I had seen on the internet the idea of reusable sanitary pads and had spoken briefly to Brain Trust head teacher Charles who had confirmed all of the above. Primary schools in Uganda have classes up Year 7, pupils of 14 years and sometimes older so the problems were very familiar to him.

My daughter Nicola sent me the downloaded instructions of how to make disposable ‘feminine pads’ and I decided to speak to Patrick about it thinking his group could make some. I showed him the design, the pattern and instructions and he was really interested.

It was strange but very refreshing to listen to him discuss maybe what we would call a ‘ladies problem’ openly with the other lunch guests Innocent and taxi driver Charles, none showing any sign of embarrassment. The menstrual cycle is just another part of life in Uganda but one that causes millions of women and girls big problems. They have no money so buying sanitary towels is out of the question.

So I left the idea with Patrick and today the short message and photos were waiting for me. Brilliant! The last part of Patrick’s message read ‘It’s a good beginning, with time we will be perfect.’

I know quite a few people in Uganda but over the years the ones who impress me and therefore I stick with are those like Patrick who do their best with whatever they have. Of course as in all countries there are always people who sit and wait for handouts or take advantage, but fortunately the number has been few.

If any of you are sewers and you fancy making some ‘fempads’ I will happily take them out to Uganda next year. I’m sure ou can imagine how grateful girls and women will be to receive them!

The link is:

http:/sewinpeace.blogspot.com/2013/08/feminine-cloth-pad-tutorial.html?m=1

There are similar ones to view on the internet.

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Happy times at Brain Trust PS

Hello friends! I’ve come across some photos of the happy times I spent with the children at Brain Trust PS, only a few weeks ago though it feels a lot longer!
As I think I’ve mentioned previously I only spent half a day at the most teaching at the school as my energy levels are not what they used to be when I ran Hollies Pre-School and 3rd Poynton Guides for quite a few years! Also the heat and the perpetual movement of dust around the school was terrible! I often coughed and had streaming eyes, feeling too uncomfortable to really enjoy what I was doing some of the time . The reason for the dust was the long dry season when the drought in the area dries everything up and this year it was prolonged! People were unable to plant their crops as they should have been doing, which means that some might have difficulty feeding their families! At school the fact that the classrooms have dry mud floors, open sides and no windows or doors everyone was suffering with the choking dust! I hate to think what all the dust is doing to the lungs of everyone particularly the smaller children! Anyway more about that later.
The fact is I did manage to give each of the seven classes (5-14/15 year olds) plus three nursery groups a portion of my time, and I tend to forget the bad bits when I remember those gorgeous children, without exception, really!
Hope you enjoy my memories too!

Please click on first photo to work through slideshow and read descriptions

Thank goodness for Poynton Rotary!

Thank goodness for Poynton Rotary! Yesterday I received a message from Innocent in Uganda saying ‘We just had a very heavy storm, houses have lost their roofs.’ I asked how his home had fared and that I hoped the new roofs at Brain Trust PS had stood the strain of the storm too. He said ‘We are ok thanks, and the school but I bet had it not to be for your help, the two roofs would be flying to UK!’ The phrase ‘in the nick of time’ comes to mind!’ Thanks again Di Penny and members of Poynton Rotary for acting so swiftly to the emergency when much of the original school roof blew away in a previous storm soon after I arrived in Uganda in February. I’m now hoping that the weather calms down to a rainy season useful to crop growing rather than the devasting storms and drought of recent weeks where the crops and the people don’t stand a chance of survival! Enjoy the short videos!

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, crowd and outdoor

 

More of my family in Uganda

Another branch of my Ugandan family are the Kasenke brothers who, since 2008, my family and wonderful friends who have joined us along the way to help give assistance to the brothers at different stages of their education and careers. Before I met them their father died and their mother was ‘chased away’ from their village because ‘uncles’ wanted the family land, leaving the six boys to fend for themselves. Something that seems unthinkable to us but was, and probably still is, common practice in some communities.
During my recent visit to Uganda you ‘met’ four of the brothers. Firstly Bosco who, though only gained low grade A levels, last year qualified as a nurse with extra skills in dentistry. Bosco was so surprised and very grateful when I took out to him many dental tools donated by dentists in Poynton, mainly from Doctor Lisa-Marie at Chester Road Dental Care who wants to keep updated on Bosco’s progress, and also Doctor Arde from MyDentist. A big thank you to both dentists. Your gifts have given Bosco opportunities he would otherwise not have had.

Bosco showed me around the hospital where he now works and this is where he carries out his dentistry skills

Mike left and Bosco right with their mum Monika who we persuaded to come back home where she is no longer under threat

Elder brother Mike has a job working in a restaurant in Iganga, a big town in Uganda, and always travels to see me on a Monday, his only day off. He is now head of the family since his big brothers Alex and Robert moved away.
Paul, you will have heard me speak about a lot, as I spent several days helping him deliver mosquito nets in the very poor and inhospitable environment of the outskirts of Kasozi where he had surveyed the area previously.
While I was in Uganda Paul received his long awaited A Level results and we were so pleased he had passed them all, Chemistry, Biology, Maths, Agriculture and General Paper. Incredible! These results qualify him to go on to university to study his chosen course of Clinical Medicine & Community Health, so long as he receives the financial support necessary.
In 2008 when Godfrey, a very good friend of mine who I depend on for advice at every corner, found Paul hungry and alone in the homestead, he could not read or write and certainly couldn’t speak any English. Amazing to see what a little help from us and his own hard work over the last ten years has achieved!
Without financial help none of the young people I talk about would not have had the opportunity to gain a decent education. With this help they have been lifted out of the never ending circle of poverty. The boys as I still call them, though most are now in their twenties, are all so so grateful as you can imagine! It’s been a privilege to be with them as they took their different paths knowing we had a small but very important part to play.
Lastly there is step brother Emma (Emmanuel), who we only started helping last year, with help from another kind donor. Emma is a bright boy and I’m sure with the love and care from his family and a little help from us, he will do well too. I enjoyed spending a few hours visiting him at school during my stay.

Taken from a post by Paul on Facebook: You might have something that seems minor to you but when you grant it to another person, it means a lot to them. Gerry Hambridge, it has been my pleasure working with you, and to all those that have made it possible. Thank you so much, may the Lord God reward you for spreading smiles across this beautiful pearl of Africa.
When Paul wrote this he was referring to the mosquito nets but this quote can be used in many contexts where giving is concerned. For the price of a new coat or pair of shoes that we probably don’t really need or the cost of a few meals out we can all help a child gain a valuable education. I’ve loved and still love going without that coat!

Almost back to normal!

Almost back to normal!

I’ve taken my final antimalarial tablet, eaten the last of the green oranges the children of Brain Trust PS gave me as a farewell gift (I helped eat the cock that I was supposed to bring back to ‘Father Norman’, the night before I left Nawanyago!) and shared out with family and friends many of the g-nuts given to me, though every time I pass the box in the kitchen I somehow navigate towards it for the last few!

The colours and gentle warmth of the UK Spring are still putting a smile on my face after the sight of limp water-starved crops suffering in the excruciating heat of the continued drought in Uganda. 

I’m not quite used to driving a ‘proper ‘ car yet, even today I found myself forgetting my seatbelt and had difficulty getting our car into gear after the heavy wrenching manoeuvres needed for the Land cruiser and pickup truck I drove in Uganda!

I’ve not quite finished sending out posts and photos from my wonderful (mostly!) four weeks in Uganda but already started my 2020 list for my next visit! 

The very good news is that Innocent is now in contact once again thanks to my lovely friend Marie and my wonderful hubby who clubbed together and bought him a phone, a replacement for the one that was stolen when he was viciously mugged a week before I returned home. Innocent has now recovered from that terrible experience and from the two seizures that followed and is busy looking after his farm and family, and eager to help with my projects whenever I ask. 

I hope you’ll continue your interest and support for the help we offer people in Uganda and look forward to hearing from you along the way. X Be back soon!