Yunusu's shoes

Yunusu is 32 years old and lives in Nsenge, a village near Jinja in Uganda.  He is a lovely, cheerful and dignified young man, with an uplifting smile.  He lives in very humble circumstances with his wider family.

At about the age of five Yunusu collapsed, suffering from polio.  From that point he completely lost the use of his legs. He needs bespoke built-up shoes and metal callipers.

This is particularly challenging in the rough terrain of village life, where there are precious few facilities or opportunities and most people live at subsistence level making a living from the land.

 Yunusu at home with his father

Yunusu at home with his father

Yunusu started a project rearing goats, but unfortunately at some point all the goats died from disease.

Several years ago, as part of UgandAid’s work in Nsenge, we built a new home for Yunusu and his family.  A couple of years later we brought a wheelchair from the UK for him to use.

About 4 years ago, a team member noticed the poor state of Yunusu’s shoes and asked whether we could pay for replacement shoes for him.  This was agreed, and arrangements made to accompany him to Katalemwa in Kampala, where this type of bespoke shoe is made.

When Yunusu went in with one of our team his eyes lit up as he saw the shoes being made. He explained that he’d always wanted to learn this skill, and had already been learning shoe repair skills at home. 

Katalemwa is a highly regarded teaching facility; part of the Leonard Cheshire organisation, and to cut a long story short Yunusu was enrolled for a twelve-month residential course in January 2017.

 In the Katalemwa workshop

In the Katalemwa workshop

During that year in Kampala, not only did Yunusu excel as a model student but met his future wife Sharon, who worked nearby.

 Once he had completed his training, we approached Jinja Hospital to find out whether Yunusu could be employed to provide specialist shoes and callipers for people with disabilities. They could not employ him on site, but are happy to refer potential clients to Yunusu. 

So, he needs a workshop in a secure and stable environment to set up in business. We approached Nile Vocational Institute about building a workshop on their campus, and they were very happy to accommodate it as part of the perimeter of their site, which gives an interface with the road. Indeed NVI shared with us that they had been considering adding shoe repair courses to their portfolio, so this project could have a lot of potential.

Plans have been prepared and building will progress as soon as the necessary funds can be raised. We hope to build and fully equip the workshop early in 2019.Once this is established, hopefully Yunusu will have his life turned round by this great opportunity.

The final full day in Jinja

The whole team attended the Sunday worship service at NVI. It was a significant time.

The worship at NVI is always exuberant, but today it was especially so. We arrived as the choir were belting out invigorating worship songs, dancing in unison as they sang. The congregation of staff and students moved in time as they offered up their worship.

As Edison came on stage to speak he was again given a huge welcome by the students. Their respect and affection for him is very clear. His leadership stature came through as he encouraged the students and spelt out his expectations of them. We were impressed by the way he picked out members of his staff for affirmation. The UgandAid team also received a very warm thanks for all that has been achieved over 4 weeks by the two teams.

Both Steve and Christine were given chance to respond on behalf of the team.

Edison then invited Benon, the past Director of NVI and great friend of UgandAid to speak. He too was inspirational. He was well received by the students even though he left NVI at least 3 years before any of them came to the institution. His reputation lives on.

This was followed by the NVI Basuga community group in full tribal costume. They were highly polished and danced with enormous energy, presenting us with what seemed like courtship dances to a Gospel backing track. We were enthralled and the rest of the students didn’t hold back from showing their enthusiastic support. All through the performance staff and students traipsed to the front of the hall to deposit money in the collection basket on the stage.

A member of staff then delivered a sermon on the story of Esther, dramatically and vividly re-enacting the events in the text.

By the end we had been in the service for 3 hours – students for 4 hours – but they remained fully engaged.

We all had a strong sense of this being a time of regeneration for NVI, with strong leadership and new vision. We are all excited by what lies ahead.

Gazebos had been erected on the grass outside and during the service the Catering Department had been busy preparing food. We snatched a few moments with our sponsored students before joining the staff for lunch. This was a good time to catch up with people we’d come across over the last two weeks. This included the Nsenge village leaders, smart and over-heated in their suits. We were thrilled to meet Joseph’s wife. She was over from Kampala. Joseph plays such a key role looking after the UgandAid students and works tirelessly for them. He is a very special man and is appreciated enormously by the students and the team alike.

After the party we had the grand opening of the Hairdressing salon (see the postscript which has been added to the last Hairdressing Project blog). Josephine, the Head of Department, cut the red ribbon holding the doors together and we wandered round the room marvelling at the changes Tony and the decorating team had made. We then we moved on to the Motor Vehicle Mechanics section for the unveiling of Phil’s engine (again see the postscript on the Phil’s Engine blog).

Finally it was back to our hotel for the UgandAid party. This has become a bit of a tradition, a time to meet informally with all the key people with whom the team had worked with over the last 4 weeks. There was lots of good chat. We were able to discover more about people’s background – the tribal groups they come from and their family situations etc. It was a valuable time to get to know some people better.

Gospel Cross staff came with a large cake provided by Betty which was dedicated to the UgandAid team. There was a formal speech by Sam and then Jan ‘cut the cake’. It was another sign of the deep relationships between the team and the local Ugandans with whom we work.

This is David signing out from the 2018 UgandAid team 2 blog. I hope we’ve captured the flavour of what has been a very special trip for us all. We continue to be challenged, surprised and blessed by all that we have experienced here.

 The choir

The choir

 The choir

The choir

 The NVI congregation

The NVI congregation

 Benon speaking

Benon speaking

 Edison, the NVI Acting Director

Edison, the NVI Acting Director

 Steve responding

Steve responding

 Christine responding

Christine responding

 The party cake from Gospel Cross

The party cake from Gospel Cross

 The party

The party

 Cutting the cake

Cutting the cake

A visit to the Macedonian Vision Africa project in Masese

A group of us went over to Masese this afternoon (Saturday). We wanted to see the progress with Pastor Alfred’s project and most of wanted to catch up with our sponsored children. We parked up within the slum area and walked to the compound. We can never fail to be shocked by the conditions, the deprivation is huge, but worse the atmosphere of hopeless resides over the place. A crowd of children soon gathered all shouting, ‘How are YOOO’. They ran alongside us as we made our way down to the compound. This is the centre of the Macedonian Vision Africa project through which the children are sponsored. (see day 12 of Team 1’s blog).

Most of the team were there to greet us. Pastor Alfred had recently fallen off a boda boda and broken a bone in his ankle so he was on crutches. It was good to catch up with all. Gradually the children arrived – they were making their way from their various schools. Soon there were little huddles of sponsors and their children. There were lots of shy greetings, some opened presents and others gathered round. One was given a game of draughts which he had never seen before. However, some of his friends had, so they were soon in a group together playing very excitedly.

There are about 80 children who are supported through Macedonian Vision Africa and they go to schools scattered around the Jinja area. Pastor Alfred always has great dreams for the work and he set those out for us. It prompted an interesting debate between himself and Agnes who is also on the team between the priority of helping the girls and young women who suffer so much at the hands of men and the priority of helping the men, to mentor them and teach right ways of living. The answer of course is both and . . .

Geoff and Julie describe their time with their student, Isaac

“In Uganda we are sometimes presented with opportunities which leave a very special mark on the memory. One such came to us on our trip 2 years ago. Our sponsored student, Isaac Bodere, lives in the Masese slum with his very sick and poor parents. He asked us to go with him to his parents’ house, which we did. Today we had another. We went again with Isaac to his family home. After a 20 minute walk along a disused railway line, we arrived at the small house in a clearing on the edge of the slum. Two years ago Isaac thanked us for going, saying that he thought they would decline the invitation. Today we again had no hesitation in accepting.

Isaac’s mother came out to greet us, welcoming us as friends into her home. We were delighted and very touched to see the photos of ourselves which we had given them last year, now in frames on the wall. We were given bottles of Cola and enjoyed a lovely time of conversation and laughter.

We felt privileged. It was clear that they also felt very proud to invite us into their home and community. Their gratitude was genuine and very heart-warming, making us feel very humble. As a mark of her gratitude, Isaac’s mother gave Julie a big bunch of bananas - a simple gift, but one that meant so much to us.

After about 45 minutes we said our goodbyes with many hugs and genuine emotion all round. It was a real privilege and one to treasure.”

 Sue taking a video message from a sponsored student

Sue taking a video message from a sponsored student

 The boys playing draughts

The boys playing draughts

 Pastor Alfred and Agnes debating

Pastor Alfred and Agnes debating

The Jinja Brass Band update

When we were leaving the hotel this morning, Sue and I saw Christine talking to Paul Tenywa. He was handing her two large brown paper packages – one trombone shaped and one cornet shaped. We were curious. She introduced us and explained that Gareth Brown had met Paul in 2002. A couple of years later Gareth and Tracy came out again on a UgandAid trip. Over several years Gareth arranged for the team to bring out brass instruments which enabled Paul to set up a brass band. That was a story we both remembered well.

It turns out that the band is still operational and they perform at all sorts of functions such as weddings etc. Paul explained that the money it earns funds the FACT Child Outreach Ministry which Paul leads.

The organisation provides emotional support for children who have been traumatised. That includes teenage mothers who have been shunned by their communities. He provides shelter for the mothers and nurseries for the children. He trains the young mothers to go into schools to counsel the girls to avoid young pregnancies. He also uses them to council other young mothers who have yet to get their lives back on track. They will be traumatised and ashamed by their circumstances and need to be convinced they have value as human beings and they can have a future.

Neil Stanton (ex ABC) who was in Tanzania for 3 years and has since trained for the ministry, has strong links with the African Pastor’s Association. On one of his recent visits he met Paul and agreed to arrange to have some instruments repaired in the UK. Paul was here to hand over them over to Christine to be taken back to the UK.

Just another wonderful story which has had impact lasting 16 years and which is on-going.

Blog entry by David

 Paul Tenywa - Head of FACT

Paul Tenywa - Head of FACT

Phil's engine project

Phil has spent 4 days dismantling and then grinding an engine into 2 halves and rebuilding each section to show its parts and how they work. Simon has been helping him for the last 3 days. This has been a slow painstaking process and very dirty! The purpose is to create a visual teaching aid that demonstrates the key components of an engine. It will be an invaluable tool for the Motor Vehicle Mechanics (MVM) course. What has particularly delighted Phil is the group of students who have faithfully turned up to help and to learn from him, even on their day off - Thursday was International Women’s Day and a public holiday.

There has been another motive for all this hard work. There will shortly be an exhibition where, amongst other things, NVI will be promoting its MVM training. It will be very positive to have such a visual demonstration of what the course is about and an indication of its high standard.

Postscript Sunday 11th

There was a grand unveiling of the fully re-assembled engine. By turning the crankshaft, all moving parts could be seen making the explanation of the engine operation so much easier.

 The engine block ready for re-assembly

The engine block ready for re-assembly

 The students helping

The students helping

 Vanessa working on the cam shaft

Vanessa working on the cam shaft

 Simon after several hours with the grinding wheel

Simon after several hours with the grinding wheel

 The unveiling ceremony

The unveiling ceremony

 Godfrey demonstrating in the engine operation

Godfrey demonstrating in the engine operation

Masese and Broadheath schools' partnership

This was a very exciting day for Geoff. He came to Uganda hoping to set up a link between Broadheath Primary School in Altrincham and a local primary school in Jinja. Last week we visited Masese Co-ed Primary School and Geoff talked to the headmistress about the possibility of setting up a link between the two schools.

Today (Friday) he with others on the team were returning. Geoff, Julie, Christine, Joan, Eddie and Jan were expertly driven up the hill by Steve – it is an approach which makes British off road courses look like child’s play.

First there was a tour of the site from which they could look down on the slums around Jinja from where the school drew its children. This was followed by the official welcome by the Chairman of the School Board and the Chairman of the P.T.A., members of the Management Board and the Head teacher, Mrs Babirye Christine.

The Head teacher then set out her vision for the school and the many problems they have with achieving them. Geoff responded by saying he hoped that today would mark the beginning of the strong partnership between the 2 schools. The UgandAid team then presented the school with the gifts donated by our team and friends – pencils, pencil sharpeners from Pauline and Jane, footballs, small shoes and wellington boots from Phil, Eddie’s case full of toys for the nursery school, a gift of snakes and ladders game by Sue and Jan and finally a case of 35 new sweatshirts from Broadheath School.

It was wonderful to see the uniforms being worn by the Ugandan children in genuine gratitude to Broadheath School. Once again, it was a super occasion for the team.

Blog supplied by Geoff

 The Head Teacher and Geoff shaking on the agreement

The Head Teacher and Geoff shaking on the agreement

 A class room

A class room

 Some kids in class

Some kids in class

 The sleeping quarters for the boarding pupils

The sleeping quarters for the boarding pupils

Past NVI student Simon's story

Simon Peter Agina joined NVI as a UgandAid student in 2011 in the Motor Vehicle Mechanics section. He did well on his course and graduated in 2014 aged 24.

He got a job very quickly, but that did not work out – it was a problem with the company, not with Simon. He quickly got another job with Be Forward, Kampala, which is a Japanese company who sell and service cars. He has been with them nearly 4 years. He is now head of his repair section which is essentially a management role. He is very well thought of by his employer.

In the meantime he has started his own enterprise dealing with educational supplies. This too is growing and he has 2 full time employees. He is now in discussions with NVI about becoming one of their suppliers.

Simon uses some of the profits of this business to sponsor 4 students through their education. This is such a common story – that students who have been helped through the UgandAid scheme, go on to sponsor others.

Simon and his wife, Dina, were childhood sweethearts having been in primary school together. They now have a daughter, Chantelle, who is 21 months old. They live in rented accommodation in Kampala, although they are hoping to buy somewhere in the near future.

They came over to catch up with Tony last night. He and Paula were his sponsors when he was at NVI. After sharing an evening meal with us, they headed back to Kampala – probably a 3.5 hour journey at that time of night.

It was so encouraging to talk to this young man, who first came to NVI with nothing, and now is making his way in the world and supporting his family and others so well.

Blog information provided by Tony

 Dina, Chantelle, Simon and Tony

Dina, Chantelle, Simon and Tony

 Dina and Chantelle

Dina and Chantelle

The grain storage project

Peter has been working on a grain storage project designed to be used in the villages. The storage containers are best described as sealed plastic drums. The object is to have storage facilities to protect grain from damp and insect damage. The grain therefore lasts longer and can be sold when prices are higher.

Peter had some drums installed in a number of villages last year. Over the last few days he has been travelling out to the villages to assess the progress on the grain storage work. Everyone who has installed one of these air tight containers that he has spoken to has reported that they are a great success. They say they are able to store their grain for several months after harvest with zero loss. Because their grain is without insect infestations they can get a better price for it. And that improves further if they wait to sell when prices are higher. Their increased income will help to pay for school fees and essential medicines.

The challenge for Peter is how to take this project forward . . .

Information provided by Peter

 

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More about Gospel Cross

'The bus rattles down the road and as the clouds of dust clear, we see the row of coffin shops displaying the magnificent purple, gold or white caskets complete with the glass viewing window in the lid.

Most small holdings have several concrete-covered graves  nearby ; the final homage to mothers who die in childbirth, children who die from dehydration, pneumonia or malaria, young men who die in terrible road accidents and some  who die after a long and fulfilling life. Unlike the UK, death is not hidden, becoming a taboo subject. It is an everyday reality, a searing loss and raw wound for many. There is no safety net for those who suddenly become widows or orphans.

Gospel Cross International continue to work in these villages around Jinja to help reduce these premature deaths. This year Sam, Betty, Harriet, Aggrey and Mary alongside Dr Jan and Ugandaid volunteers have been working in local schools  to teach key health messages using stories, drama and simple games such as snakes and ladders . The use of some carefully crafted word searches, puzzles and key messages allow the children to take the health messages home .

Pray for Gospel Cross to be encouraged in their work. They are doing so well and they are seeing the health of the children improve with fewer stories of untimely deaths in childbirth.

"Prevention is better than cure." 

Easy to say, hard to do and even harder to believe. But the results are visible in the villages- people are grateful , they express their thanks with songs, speeches and specially synchronized hand clapping.

Thank you for your interest, support and prayers. Thank you Helen and Sue for your support and encouragement over the last three weeks- it has been invaluable.' 

Blog entry by Jan

 Sam, Mary and Aggrey performing a skit

Sam, Mary and Aggrey performing a skit

 Betty re-enforcing the teaching

Betty re-enforcing the teaching

The Nsenge village visit

All of us have made several visits to the Nsenge villages over the years. We have fond memories of their exuberant welcome, the excitement of the children, the anticipation of seeing the construction projects and, of course, the party and the overnight stays for some. Team 1 had experienced the full works – see their picture gallery blog. This year for Team 2 it was much more low-key.

As we passed the school, streams of children came rushing out to greet us, running alongside the minibus and screaming greetings. We rumbled to a halt in the village, where a group of elders and Armon, head of all these villages. were waiting to greet us. Some of the older ladies were in their fuchsia pink and shiny turquoise outfits, the younger women cradling their babies. There were many familiar faces and the greetings were very warm. UgandAid has been coming to this group of villages for 10 years.

Once the greetings were complete, we turned our attention to this year’s project, the community storage centre. Team 1 had played their part, mixing the mortar and laying bricks, and a further 2 weeks’ work by the NVI Building and Concrete Practice students meant the walls were complete and preparation was being made to start roofing.

We loved the simple tool that was being used to bend the steel rods to create the roof anchor points in concrete. We were less impressed by the 2nd year student working without overalls and in her flip flops! We long to be able to provide all the students with the necessary safety shoes and clothing.

We were delighted to meet up with Emanuel again. He had been with us at NVI helping to paint the Hairdressing section room on Saturday and Monday. He is a very cheery and conscientious student. Now he was constructing the shuttering for the re-enforced concrete at the top of the walls.

We moved on to the Kinaabi Umea Primary School – it a Muslim foundation school serving mostly Muslim children from the group of villages. The Muslim and Christian communities live very harmoniously together. After the formal welcome by the Deputy Head, Sophia, it was the moment for Sue to lead the teaching on nutrition. She first told a story about Freddy the fly, and then we divided into 2 adult and 6 child groups. Each group was led by a team member, who used photo cards to deliver the nutrition teaching. Then we brought out the specially designed snakes and ladders games to re-enforce the teaching. The kids loved playing it; there were loud groans when they went down the snakes and loud cheers each time they went up the ladder and similarly when one team won!

The children then regrouped outside the school for a photo and a couple of them shyly sang solos. When it was time to go there were lots of hugs followed by vigorous waving as we disappeared out of sight. We were just in time – this had been our warmest day so far, but just after we got back to the hotel there was a load clap of thunder and the heavens opened.

 Initial Greetings

Initial Greetings

 Ladies of the village

Ladies of the village

 The community grain storage building project

The community grain storage building project

 Watching an NVI student at work

Watching an NVI student at work

 Simple bending tool

Simple bending tool

 NVI student having a go

NVI student having a go

 School welcome

School welcome

 Formal welcome

Formal welcome

 Telling the story

Telling the story

 Playing the game

Playing the game

 A mother and her child

A mother and her child

 A solo performer

A solo performer

 The school kids 

The school kids 

The Hairdressing Project - Monday to Wednesday

We continued with the decorating of the Hairdressing department over Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The transformation has been amazing. Some highlights have been:

1.       The interest and commitment of the college and their desire to look after us demonstrated with providing hot drinks and lunch each day.

2.       The excitement of the students as they watch the progress being made and their desire to get involved has continued.

3.       Watching the collaborative nature of the project continue this time with the electrical installation department re-fitting the light fittings. We did smile at the time there was one person up the ladder and about 10 others begging the question, ‘how many electrical trainees it takes to change a light bulb?’

4.       The difficulty we had with the floor – we used more than twice the usual amount of floor acid and still were not totally satisfied with the result. The years the room had been used as a machine shop had left its mark!

5.       Watching the girls next door doing the hairdressing practical in semi gloom using bowls perched on the edge of chairs for hair washing. It made us more excited about the facilities they would have once we had finished.

6.       The beaming smiles of the three main teachers, Josephine (Head of Department), Angela and Aidah. They were very, very happy.

7.       Watching one of the other Hairdressing Dept rooms being decorated. Had we inspired them to get on and do some for themselves?

Sunday 11th postscript

We had a grand opening ceremony with members of NVI present including the Acting Director, Edison. Josephine the head of department cut the ribbon. It was time to see Tony's great work - he had fitted the hair driers and the mirrors. The sinks were in place but parts missing from the box meant connecting up would be complete next week.

 Hair washing arrangements

Hair washing arrangements

 Hair Styling

Hair Styling

 Light Fitting being changed

Light Fitting being changed

 The girls checking out our progress

The girls checking out our progress

 A very Happy Josephine

A very Happy Josephine

 A very Happy Aidah

A very Happy Aidah

 The painting finished

The painting finished

 The painting finished

The painting finished

 Josephine cutting the ribbon

Josephine cutting the ribbon

 Edison and Christine inspecting the work

Edison and Christine inspecting the work

 Rev Luke giving the hairdryers a try

Rev Luke giving the hairdryers a try

 The sinks in place

The sinks in place

 One of 4 mirrors installed

One of 4 mirrors installed

Catching up with 2nd and 3rd year UgandAid students

Today (Monday) Christine, Geoff and Sue were tasked with finding and interviewing some 2nd and 3rd year UgandAid sponsored students. The first part of this proved much more difficult than the second. Various students were despatched around the campus to locate and bring back the students we wanted to speak to. It must be said this was done with various degrees of success.

Eventually all were found and the interviews held.

The really heartening news is the high regard in which UgandAid is held. While being very happy with their experience of NVI, all were full of praise for the opportunities which our sponsorship will bring.

One of the students interviewed was Betty. She was a past MVA student (this means she received sponsorship through school while being brought up in Masese). It was thrilling to hear that she had progressed to NVI and receiving sponsorship for her course there. She said she has fond memories of Paula who is heavily committed to MVA. Betty is now in the one of the tribal dance/choir groups made up of Luo people from northern Uganda. We saw her energetic and joyful performance in the service on Sunday.

Blog entry by Geoff and Sue

 Betty

Betty

 Betty on the left performing in the church service

Betty on the left performing in the church service

 Betty performing in the church service

Betty performing in the church service

The story of Mary Faith and her sponsors

In 2013 we came to Uganda and decided to choose a student to sponsor. Fortunately we were able to select one from a list – we could not have coped with making a choice from a sea of hopeful faces. After praying, we independently chose Mary Faith. We were told that both parents had died and at 20 years of age she was starting a 3 year course in hairdressing. She had only received primary education. We then met her and we both instantly felt a connection. It was a joy to spend time with her and to communicate through stilted English together with actions and a lot of hugging. She said she had been praying for a sponsor and now she had two. We were instantly christened Mummy Pauline and Mummy Jane.

We were able to meet up with Mary Faith on subsequent UgandAid trips. We were able to take her out and even bring her back to the hotel for a swim in the pool – a new experience for her. We loved taking her to the market (where we were the only mzungus) to buy her clothes.

We have returned to Uganda after a gap of 3 years. Mary Faith graduated a couple of years ago near the top of her class. We have been re-united with her – it has been wonderful to see what a confident young woman of faith she has become. She has been working in a hair salon and has been able to help support her brothers and sisters. Unfortunately the salon closed so she is now relying on private work for friends. We are sure that with her faith, determination and the good grounding that NVI has given her, she will soon get another job. This is what Mary Faith had to say:

“Because of UgandAid I am somebody in this world; I was someone who was a nobody. I thank God for the UgandAid team, for the love and care they have given me since I first joined NVI. I am now able to earn some money for my living in this world. God has given me a very special thing and I cannot take for granted the two beautiful souls who sponsored me for a hairdressing course. They have supported me through the course and are still interested in my life – they are my lovely mummies and I love them so much. May God bless them both abundantly and may the good Lord reward them and UgandAid.”

It has been a privilege to be part of this young person’s life.

We are now sponsoring another student and it has been a great joy to meet her.

Update Saturday 10th March

When Pauline and Jane were with Mary Faith last week, they prayed with her particularly that she would find a new full time job. We heard this morning that she has been offered a job in a new hair salon and starts work on Monday.

Blog entry by Pauline and Jane

 Jane, Mary Faith and Pauline

Jane, Mary Faith and Pauline

Sunday

We awoke on Sunday morning to thunder, lightning and very heavy rain which continued for about 6 hours. Most of us headed off for church at NVI. As usual we arrived during the endless notices each one ending with the exhortation to ‘be there on time’. The choir performed, proudly wearing their new uniforms – pink shirts for the girls and purple shirts for the boys. They were followed by a dance/choir tribal group of NVI students who were all from a northern Ugandan tribe – the Luo. Their first song was very moving – Jesus is my identity. As they performed they both sang and danced. They finished with a very energetic song accompanied by drums and a whistle – the rhythm was not so well synchronised but their enthusiasm was amazing. It ended with them coming down and danced though the congregation. This was followed by a sermon based on a verse in James – and focussed on the three words pride, grace and humility.

4 of the team went off to a service at Church at Victoria Baptist. A good service, but it went on beyond the time expected with an 80 minute sermon on Ezra’s 6 hour sermon as recorded in the book of Nehemiah. They were thankful that the preacher didn’t speak for the full 6 hours.

After the service at NVI those of us who have sponsored students were able to meet up with them and catch up.

Lunch was at a favourite pizza place. This was followed by the Nile boat trip – a repeat of the one taken by Team 1. We never tire of seeing the incredible range of birds and the monitor lizards.

 

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The Hairdressing Department Project

Saturday saw almost the whole team at NVI starting the painting onslaught. We needed to get two coats of undercoat on today if we were to get the project done on time. We were predicting a 5pm finish. Soon everyone was working, each with a task that best suited their skills. We had 3 ‘high level’ teams on ladders, a group ‘cutting in’ at low level and a group ‘on rollers’. There was a great spirit in the room and work went very smoothly allowing a morning break and a lunch break and, to everyone’s surprise, we were finished by 4pm.

There were several special moments:

1.       We arrived to find the floor cement work complete. The BCM lads must have worked quite late to get that completed. Then a couple from the Welding Department arrived to grind down some anchor bolts protruding from the concrete floor. This emphasised the sense of being a team project.

2.       A member of the NVI staff arrived to say a morning hot drink was arranged for 11am for the team. This was served with some roasted ground nuts - delicious. They also informed us that lunch would be served in the board room at 1pm. So even though we’d all put together a packed lunch, we tucked into chicken, chips and greens accompanied by a ‘soda’ and followed by a banana and coffee. Again some staff (and maybe students) had come in specially to provide this for the team.

3.       As we started work in the morning, one of the students, Vanessa, who is on the motor mechanics course, asked if she could help. She stayed with us all day and worked really hard. Then after lunch 2 more students arrived asking to help if we could show them how painting was done. Tony gave Emmanuel and Juliet some basic instruction and soon they too were helping. It was so encouraging to see the students taking some ownership of the project.

4.       When we left the building for lunch we noticed a long queue of students. We investigated further and realised that it was the national blood transfusion service here to take blood. It was taking place in the open air with no sign of refrigeration of the blood taken. But it was great to see so many volunteering to give blood.

5.       We heard from Josephine, the Head of Hairdressing, that she had been to Kampala to meet Joseph. The phone call from her was full of excitement. She had bought 2 special sinks and 2 traditional wall mounted hair dryers – ‘I am so, so happy’ she exclaimed. These will be installed this week.

There will be more as this project unfolds next week.

In the evening we spent a little more time on Helen’s project. We have been collecting bottle tops at every opportunity. The task was to punch holes in them and then string 10 together to make a counting aid. So far we have 400 bottle tops pierced and strung.

 An NVI student 'cutting in'

An NVI student 'cutting in'

 2 more nvi students working around sue

2 more nvi students working around sue

 NVI students giving blood

NVI students giving blood

A UgandAid student's story

Wilson, aged 19, lives in Eastern Uganda and lost his father in an accident. His family is very poor because his mother struggles to support the family.

Wilson applied to NVI and was called for interview. He set off with a few shillings in his pocket. It was not enough to pay for his journey to Jinja. So he travelled on the top of a lorry for the first part of the journey. When he got to Soroti he was able to catch a bus to Jinja. He slept the night on the floor of the Jinja bus station.

Wilson arrived for interview dishevelled, exhausted and very hungry. The interview panel heard his story and their hearts went out to him. He was given a bed for the night and the NVI staff made sure he was well fed and cared for.

Having realised that the money he had left would not get him home the staff each contributed what they could to give enough money for the fare.

Last week Wilson joined NVI to study motor vehicle mechanics, and he now has every chance of turning his life around.

It is for young people such as Wilson, the poorest and most vulnerable, that UgandAid exists.

This entry by Christine

Nakibizzi Primary School visit with Gospel Cross

Friday morning: surprisingly little trace of the torrential rains of yesterday, the rich red soil seems to have absorbed all the water. Apparently there had been hail in rural areas that had destroyed banana trees. Not a patch of course on the news of the snow and storms that have hit the UK.

The lovely Gospel Cross team picked us up at the hotel and we drove to the outskirts of Jinja to Nakibizzi Church of Uganda Primary School. Mission Statement ‘To produce healthy, God fearing and well educated citizens who will develop the nation.’ There are about 500 children.

This was a more affluent area, and we ruefully noted the contrast to Masese Co-Ed School.  At Masese the playground consisted of a swing, minus the swings, and a slide, with just the steps, no slide. Here there was a full playground with much innovative use of old tyres, painted in bright colours.

After a brief welcome from head teacher Florence, we were seated under a tree. A teacher rang the sonorous bell suspended from its branches and the children assembled, wearing a uniform of lilac dresses or shirts, smart and attentive. They were put through their paces, shuffling forward and back, arms outstretched, jumping and twisting. After a rousing chorus of the Ugandan National Anthem, the East Africa anthem and some Christian choruses that we could join in with, we were introduced to enthusiastic applause.

Today’s teaching for the top 4 year groups took place in the airy church. After the Gospel Cross team had presented the Healthy Eyes material, we divided into year groups for Snakes and Ladders. Quite a challenge, playing a game with 25 players gathered round, the board placed on the middle pew and the players hanging over the pews either side. Interestingly, their level of English was not as high as that of the Masese children. A happy, busy time that the children really seemed to enjoy.

On the way home we stopped off at a nearby village for Jan to pay an advisory visit. In no time at all the local children were sucking lollies and sporting football tops and multi-coloured wigs from Eddy’s inexhaustible supplies.

In the afternoon most of us visited Nile Vocational Institute to see our sponsored students. They were waiting for us in the hall and as each person appeared through the door they were greeted with cries of joy and many hugs by their student. To them we are ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy.’ A guided tour of the school brought us to the Motor Vehicle Mechanics classrooms that had been decorated by Team 1. Well done all of you, what a magnificent job! We had our first peek at the Hairdressing and Cosmetology Department, where Simon, Tony and David were perched perilously up ladders – see separate blog for full details of the transformation.

The evening saw the team enjoying a delicious Indian meal in Jinja. Happy times.

This entry by Sue

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The decorating project

The Team 2 decorating project is focussed on the Hairdressing Department at NVI. But it will be far more than decorating. Can you imagine learning all aspects of hairdressing in a room that was previously an engineering department with no running water, only 1 broken mirror, walls so black that it was impossible to take a photograph of the students? A room with the remains of heavy machinery anchor points, raised concrete platforms and stanchions all there as serious trip hazards in the half light. A room with so many holes in the roof, it was impossible to use when it rained. You are beginning to get a picture of the hairdressing department.

This project has already become an amazing partnership between various NVI departments and the UgandAid team thanks to the efforts of Tony.

The hairdressing students agreed to scrub the walls and floor in preparation for painting. They started on Thursday and were still hard at it when we arrived on Friday morning. They were all dressed as if for a normal day’s lessons, yet they waded around in the floods of water, scrubbed the walls with great vigour and with much hilarity. Their effort and energy was amazing.

The Building and Concrete Practice Department undertook to remove all the stanchions and concrete platforms etc. They also agreed to insert two new skylights and replace many broken tiles. They worked tirelessly and before the end of the day had completed all the work and made good the floor. You might want to question their safe working practices but definitely not their energy.

The Plumbing Department are arranging a new water supply to the room and making provision for water waste. Three new sinks will be installed. The Electrical Installation Department are to update the electrics to allow three wall mounted hair driers to be installed. The Welding Department removed the steel stanchion and provided running repairs to the sledge hammer. The Motor Vehicle Maintenance Department provided loads of kit for the work.

Amidst all this activity two of the UgandAid team started putting on the undercoat on the walls at high level. It was slow work with one stationed at the bottom of the ladder and the other working amongst the rafters. But it was a good start for when the whole team joins in tomorrow.

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A visit to Masese School with Gospel Cross

Today, Thursday, we went to Masese Co-Educational Primary School with Gospel Cross, an organisation that delivers Preventive Health Care training to poor communities. It was a rough ride along the dirt track up to the top of the hill overlooking the Masese slum area.

The school has around 900 children, many of whom are from the Karimojong people, a tribal group who have been displaced from their region in north-eastern Uganda and settled on government-owned land. They are feared and despised, are not allowed to farm the land and eke out an existence in the slum.

The top four year groups gathered eagerly under the trees, dressed in their yellow and blue uniforms. We were welcomed with a rousing song, then the Gospel Cross team introduced the theme of Healthy Eyes, at one stage causing hilarity as 2 of them blundered around in opaque goggles, trying to catch someone jingling bells. The challenge was to organise 200 children into 8 groups, then to introduce them to the game of Snakes and Ladders which reinforced the teaching. Whoops of glee and howls of disappointment rose from each group, they loved the game.

The students did remarkably well, we were impressed by their level of English, quick grasp of the rules of the game and of the points it raised. A hand-shaking exercise with glitter illustrated how germs are transmitted from person to person, then from hand to mouth to eyes.

Our team was welcomed into head teacher Christine’s office. The school motto is No Surrender. After the fun of the game it was sobering to hear that some of these children were heads of household. For many years a charity had provided a daily meal for the children, but the charity had moved on and the kitchen stood deserted. Many children had left as a result, taking to the streets to forage for food.  Others did not have the means to bring food to school, so went hungry all day. The teachers did their best and there were inspiring stories of former students who had gone on to further education. The children pay around £10 a term and there are various sponsorship schemes. Macedonian Vision Africa is the biggest sponsor, supporting around 20 of the children. If this is for you, you can contact MVA’s UK team Rachel Muter, Paula Gabbott or Nigel Harris.

We listened to Christine’s dreams and wished we could help. Geoff and Julie will return later this week to discuss a possible twinning with an Altrincham primary school. We mulled over all that we’d seen and heard on the bumpy journey back to our hotel.

Just as we were setting off for lunch a torrential rain storm began. It went on until the evening, grounding some of us at the hotel. As our tummies rumbled we thought about those school children who went all day without breakfast or lunch.

This entry by Sue

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Geoff and Julie's chance encounter

After a most interesting morning at Kathy’s Centre, we decided to go into Jinja to change our money, have a bite to eat and then for some of us some retail therapy.

Our first stop was the bank where we soon felt like naughty school children. We were commanded to form an orderly line in front of the counter by a fearsome female crowd controller. We were told off each time we got out of line – the lady brooked no argument.

After lunch at the Source Café, we went off to browse the nearby shops. Within 5 minutes Geoff – who else you might say - sat on a chair next to a young lady tasked with relieving tourists of their cash. Noticing we were muzungus, she asked if we were involved with a charity. He said we were with UgandAid, and she immediately asked, ‘where are Geoff and Julie?’ Totally shocked I said I was Geoff, whereupon she took off my hat and pronounced that to be true. Julie then appeared to many hugs and much joy, followed by Joan, Pauline, Jane, Eddie and David. It transpired that she graduated from NVI 3 years ago and remembered us from then.

It was a lovely moment.