Our final Sunday

The Sunday service a NVI was handed over to the UgandAid team, and we set a very different tone to all the African singing and dancing that went before us. Our small but splendid choir lead  songs of worship, and we blew them away with our ‘skit’(drama) which acted out the parable of the sower. This spectacle involved nearly all the team and a large number of balloons! Our final song ‘bind us together Lord’ where over 100 people held hands and sang was extremely emotional. After the service we officially  handed over the business studies room and also had an official opening of Yunusu’s  shoe workshop. As well as his wife Yunusu’s  parents were present, a massive feat as they are old and extremely frail.  The whole family were totally bowled over – another emotional moment.

And we had a rather splendid cake at the celebratory meal afterwards!

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A couple of days later Yunusu moved into his workshop, and welcomed his first customers – the beam on his face hardly left him for a moment – what a dream come true for this young man

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 And so home.....

Monday morning was time for hugs and tears and the long journey home  - thank you God for a wonderful two weeks.

Christine Booth

Saturday morning... visit to Isaac's house

Isaac graduated from the Nile Vocational Institute in October 2018 after completing a two year course in Building and Concrete Practice. Geoff & Julie were his sponsors during the course having already sponsored him during his Senior 4 year at school.

Together with his four younger siblings and his baby nephew, Isaac lives with his parents, Topista and Francis, who are both HIV positive.  Isaac is the third born of seven children. Thankfully none of the children have HIV.  Isaac was the first child to attend school as the family were unable to pay school fees.

Geoff & Julie had previously visited Isaac’s home, which is on the edge of the Masese slum, and they asked Isaac if it would be possible for a small group from the team to visit them. So on Saturday morning Geoff, Julie, Mike, Sandra, Janice, James, Rachel, Millie and Annie set off in the bus to meet Isaac , who escorted them to his home.

We were warmly welcomed by Topista and shown into the house, which consists of a small living room and two small bedrooms.  They had made sure that there was a seat for everyone. Julie & Sandra handed over gifts, which were warmly accepted.

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Isaac welcomed us into is home and introduced his parents, who never stopped smiling. He gave the team a history of his family and their circumstances. Topista and Francis are extremely proud of Isaac and what he has achieved. They are also proud that he is training to be a Pastor. Both Topista and Francis thanked the team for all they had done for their son.

Sandra prayed for the family, which was very moving.

Hospitality is a normal part of Ugandan culture and we were provided with bananas and sodas.  It is difficult to accept this generous hospitality from a family who has very little, but it makes them very happy to see us enjoying their gifts.

The family were very proud to have had such a large group of visitors and having presented Julie with a large bunch of bananas walked with us linking arms back to our bus.

The team members who came on the trip to Masese, especially those on their first visit to Uganda, found the experience to be humbling and very emotional. 

Julie Christiansen

Annie’s Spotlight

A lot of people live their lives solely for themselves, but on this trip I have had the privilege of meeting and learning from people that live so much of their life for others. They all have the kindest hearts and so much love, which they have shared with the people in this country that need and deserve it. I feel so lucky to be a member of the UgandAid team this year and to witness and make a small contribution to their ongoing work.

A highlight of my trip was when I met Amina, a student who has just started at NVI, who has lost both of her parents. We visited her village, where we received an amazingly warm (and loud!) welcome. Amina affectionately called Geoff and Julie - who are great friends of her sister Janet - her Mum and Dad. She then turned to me and called me her sister, and that was when I decided to sponsor her through her three year hairdressing course at NVI. I also met Amos, a student who is sponsored by the company that I work for. He is a wonderful, funny and ambitious young man and I feel so incredibly proud of him.

It has astounded me how the people we have met have invited us all into their homes and their hearts. They value friendship and family in a way that many do not, and when they are given opportunities, they selflessly share the rewards with all those they care about. It is difficult for those of us that have been more fortunate in life to envisage how we can make a difference to those less fortunate. There is so much poverty in the world that is it easy to think you could not change a thing. This trip and this charity overwhelmingly demonstrates that this is not true, and they set an example to me and us all.

Julie H’s Spotlight

This is my first trip to Uganda. I’ve always said ever since my son James visited Uganda I wanted to see it and follow in his footsteps and that what I did and no one was stopping me. I feel now that it’s my second home and the people of Uganda are my family. NVI is an amazing place for students. We visit it often and the welcoming is incredible.

Seeing My son’s plaque there on the wall brought tears and joy to my eyes I feel so proud of everyone. Meeting Solomon the little boy on the photograph was a dream come true also his mother and uncle. What a beautiful young boy he his. It brought joy in my heart. Also meeting James Julius, I was so excited to see him sitting in the church on Sunday and all he kept saying to me was Thankyou Thankyou for everything. He showed me his certificate’s also. His smile was unbelievable and it melts my heart .

So Everyone here in Uganda Thankyou and I Love You .xx

Laurie’s Spotlight

This is my second visit to Uganda, having come last year. With quite a few new faces in the team it was impressive how quickly the painting and decorating team gelled and got stuck in to the first task at the new workshop for Yunusu with enthusiasm and energy despite the hot weather.

Once again the welcome that Ugandaid recieved from all the students and staff at NVI and also in the small villages we visited was close to overwhelming.

This trip provided the opportunity to meet my sponsored student, who is just starting the second year of his motor vehicle maintenance course having passed all his first year exams. He is a fine student.

I was particularly impressed to hear from some of the past students who told us about there own success stories since graduating from NVI, including generation of employment opportunities for future students. For me this has once again been an enthralling and at times an emotional and moving experience.

Helen and Gill's visit with Hospice Jinja

We had the enormous privilege of going out into rural villages with the Hospice Jinja palliative care team.  Most people die of HIV/Aids, Cancer, accidents etc. We learnt that only 5% of Ugandans get access to cancer treatments and there is only one cancer centre in Uganda (in Kampala). Cancer treatments have to be paid for, and patients have to bring their own carer and food. This means that most people cannot access treatment and die from their cancer; for women this is mostly cervical and breast cancers.  

We visited one young man called Awal who was 31. He had started chemotherapy for his Hodgkins Lymphoma but could only afford a few treatments so had to stop – he is now dying, and for the sake of just £100! We visited a number of people with AIDS, some who had developed cancers as a consequence – many who struggled to get their drugs either because they had no one to travel to the local health clinic to get them for them or for some struggled to comply with the regime. However we visited one 21 yr old lady who commenced HIV treatment and had radically improved.

We visited a lady with rectal cancer who could not sit down. The nurse suggested we examine her. Laid on a dusty floor in a dark room we saw her rectal tumour had eroded most of the left check of her bottom. She had  no pain killers and no dressings on her wound. The team left her with some oral morphine liquid (the only form of strong analgesia they have), Paracetomol, Amitriptyline and a laxative. We also left a food parcel as she had very little food.  Another lady we visited had a rectal cancer with a fistula (hole between her rectum and vagina) but had no pads and pants to preserve her dignity.

Each day started with a hymn, scripture and prayer followed by a team meeting discussing patients seen the previous day. We travelled between 180-200kms in a 4x4 truck, mostly off road (dirt tracks) leaving the office at around 10:00 and returning between 18:30-19:30. We visited 9-10 patients each day. The team can see the huge need for cervical screening (as 40% of female cancers are cervical) and already just using physical examination (no access to smear tests) they have identified 10% of those screened and been able to refer them on for testing and treatment. They have a huge task to dispel myths and fears about screening amongst village women.

As a result of our visit we are hoping to connect Hospice Jinja with Gospel Cross ministry because they do health education in schools so there is potential for them to help in dispelling myths about cancer screening. Also we plan to put them into contact with NVI/Ugandaid because the hospice team are in contact with patients whose children are left orphaned and vulnerable  - just the sort of children/young people whom UgandAid want to reach.

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Julie C's Spotlight

My 11th trip to Uganda and it still blows me away! It’s particularly lovely this year havimg so many of the team experiencing their first Ugandaid trip and seeing it through their eyes.

Each time I have been here there has been something that I have experienced, which has been particularly special.

This year, it was finding out that Amina, the sister of Janet our lovely Ugandan friend from the Nsenge village community, has gained a place as a student at Nile Vocational Institute. Janet is a typical village girl who married early and now has three children. We have met up with her each time we have been to Uganda. She told me during our visit here last October that she had wanted Amina to have the chance to attend NVI and I suggested that she spoke to one of the village elders. Since then, Amina submitted her application and with the help of Joshua Kaninga was accepted on to the hairdressing course.

Geoff and I have had the joy of meeting and getting to know this bubbly, personable young lady and it feels that this story has now come full circle from when we first met Janet eight years ago. I couldn’t be more happy!

Janet

Janet

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Rachel's Spotlight

This is my first time to Uganda, but I can guarantee it won’t be my last! I have fallen head over heels for this country and its people in a way I didn’t think I would.

In the UK, I am a teacher at Broadheath Primary School. The school sponsors a student at NVI called David, who has just started his second year studying mechanics and is partnered with Masese Co-Education. For the last couple of years, the children at Broadheath have raised money for David and written letters, sent videos and donated their old school uniform to the pupils at Masese.

Although there have been many amazing moments on this trip, meeting David and teaching at Masese Co have to be my highlights.

David is a wonderful young man! He was quiet and very shy when I first met him, but he has started to come out of his shell more now and it was so great to see him and his friends having fun on Sunday afternoon (he certainly wasn’t quiet then)! I am just delighted that myself and the children and staff at Broadheath are able to support him and his education. I just know he will be an amazing mechanic and a lifelong friend.

Not many teachers can say that they have been able to teach in Uganda and I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had. To say that education and teaching in Uganda is different to the UK is a massive understatement, and one that I hadn’t realised until I was actually there, experiencing it for myself. One of the first things that struck me as I walked into a classroom was the sheer number of children packed into one room! I am used to a class of 30 (which I used to think was pretty big), but here class sizes range from anywhere between 50 and 80 students. I taught in a fairly average sized class of 76... I will never moan about 30 children again! The second thing that really stuck out to me is the complete lack of resources. Again, I will never moan about resources again! The children here learn by rote, which is very different to how our children learn, but given the class sizes, I am not sure how else it could be done. Overall, teaching at Masese was an amazing experience and one I won’t ever forget and although it was one of my highlights, it was also the day which I found the toughest emotionally. There were a few things that not only the children learnt today.

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James' Spotlight

This is my first trip to Uganada and I never expected to meet such incredible people who have a passion for changing the lives of many and have achieved so much in the last 19 years.

Each of you are unique and wise and it is a real privilege to have met you all and spend the last 2 weeks with such amazing people!

This trip has been a  life changing experience full of joyous moments, hard truths and has changed my perception on so many things which I was, before, ignorant to. It has been a roller coaster of emotions, which has made me realise that a lot needs to change in my life in order to be a better person.

Many told me at the beginning of the trip that Uganda “gets you”. I didn’t believe that it would, but it has.

I will treasure this experience forever and look forward to seeing everyone again next year!

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Millie's Spotlight

This is my first time in Uganda and I have loved every minute of it! It’s been emotional at time but also extremely rewarding to see the happiness and joy we can bring to these people and the hope we could give them. My best moment would have to be sponsoring Joshua at NVI. He is 21 and studying catering and hospitality. It was so lovely to see his face light up when I told him myself and my family would be sponsoring him.

Thank you for everything you have taught me Uganda! I’ve made memories to last a lifetime.

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Stuart's Spotlight

Here I am, back in Uganda, I just felt I had to come back after last year’s visit, where I met with Ronald Mwasi the student that my wife Maureen and my friends Martina and Alice sponsor.

It was lovely that on our first day at NVI, during a tour of the campus, I bumped into Ronald. It was a joy to see him, his fantastic smile just beams out live and joy! The visits to Uganda and a blend of practical projects, and the relationships and friendships which are formed and built upon over time. It is so encouraging to hear the testimonies of former UgandAid students who have graduated and found employment.

Lives transformed.

Tuesday

Tuesday:

Today was a bit of a mixed day, with the team splitting up to follow their own paths.

Gill and Helen were up very early, as they were going to the local hospice for the day. Rachel, Anne, Lyndsey and Georgina were going to teach in Masese Co-Ed and Walukuba East schools and the rest of the team were going to visit Nsenge village.

 

Geoff: Always a highlight of any UgandAid trip is a visit to the village community of Nsenge, about 40 minutes away from Jinja. We have been working there for several years now, sponsoring various building projects for our students at NVI to undertake as part of their practical training. Those of you who have followed our blog over the years will recall examples of brick or “local” houses, world famous long drop pit latrines and high quality goat shelters! What is remarkable about this community – and yet typical of many throughout Uganda – is the deep sense of mutual sharing and resilience upon each other, which is a wonderful lesson to us all and something which we in the West often leave behind.

The purpose of today’s visit was quite special in it’s own way. We were invited by the village elders to formally open the grain/chair store which was completed earlier this year and marked the last project in the village which we will be undertaking.

So, we arrived to the customary welcome of beating drums, shrieking dancers and many hugs and handshakes as we reconnected with well-known and well-loved friends. Of course, we had the expectant speeches from representatives of the village, community leaders, Muslim church...it is impossible to attend any function in Uganda without a catalogue of speeches, all of which are heartfelt and full of gratitude. At last, the formal opening of the grain store, complete with string and posts of flowers. This task was entrusted to Mike who accomplished it with due deference and grace! So, more drums and dancing, more hugs and handshakes and swapping of stories and memories followed. Here I should point out that any resemblance to Strictly Come Dancing on our part was entirely coincidental, but with true British grit, we threw ourselves into it for Queen and Country.

After this, most of the group walked to the house of a young lady called Janet, who myself and Julie (my wife) met some 8 years ago and each year since when we have been to the village. Now married, with three children, she wanted to welcome us all to her house. This is a huge honour and privilege and she was so proud to do so. There was also an additional bonus! Janet’s youngest sister Amina, after some prompting by Janet, has just started her first term at NVI in the hairdressing section and came with the wonderful Joseph Kaninga to the village to take part in the morning’s festivities.  As if that wasn’t joyful enough, Annie, one of the new members of our team, there and then decided to choose her as her personally sponsored student!!! Not a dry eye in the house! Another fabulous experience for us all.

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Not such a manic Monday

Monday:

After breakfast, some of the team headed back up to Masese Co-Ed for their weekly assembly. Geoff, Rachel, Lyndsey and Anne were very kindly driven up and met by Christine (the headteacher) and her staff. They were honoured to be sat at the front of the assembly, which was held outside under some trees. They were also joined by the rest of the teaching staff and a local priest. The assembly started with the children singing the Ugandan National Anthem, followed by the East African anthem and school anthem. The priest then led the children in some prayers, before the team were introduced. It was lovely to see so many children attending school. Rachel and Anne will be returning tomorrow to observe and teach some lessons.

Once everyone was back together again at the hotel, most of the team headed up to a hotel/campsite about half an hour away called the Haven, which is one of the most relaxing places, with spectacular views over the Nile.  Richard and James were feeling adventurous however, and they set off for an action packed day of white water rafting! They managed to stay in the raft for some of the rapids, but were spectacularly tipped out on the last rapid and all thrown into the Nile.

It was a much needed day of relaxation for most of the team and adrenaline for the two daredevils!

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Wonderful Weekend

Saturday:

Although we were all up early (as usual), today was a fairly quiet day. Most of the team went back over to NVI after breakfast to carry on with some of the painting in the business classroom and to paint the floor in Yunusu’s workshop. Some of the team went over to the local hospital to give some donations of blankets and clothes to the maternity unit. In the afternoon, quite a few of the team took  boda bodas (little mototbike taxis) into Jinja to do some shopping.

 

Sunday:

What a wonderful day today was. After breakfast we all went over to NVI in our Sunday best, for their church service. As we pulled up, we could hear some beautiful singing coming from the hall, which we followed. Walking in was a very moving moment! There was a group of students on the stage singing ... and a sea of students in the congregation. Some were standing, some sitting, some singing and some dancing, but all were praising and it was just wonderful to see and be a part of. We all loved joining in with the songs and prayers and watching the skit performed by the students. Edison invited us all on to stage to introduce us and we all introduced ourselves. It was lovely to see all the students smiling back at us, but quite emotional and a little overwhelming. After the service, the UGA students, old and new, were asked to stay behind. This was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends, find out how the students were getting on and welcome the new students who were there.

 

Gill: I was so thrilled to meet Anita (one of our students) at the entrance to NVI chapel on Sunday. She had taken on the role of usher and ... (someone the other students can go to if they feel unwell). I later had the opportunity to meet and talk with her and Lukiah – our other student. Lukiah had not reported for year 2 of her textile course and following a conversation with Joseph (one of the staff), we found out she could not return to NVI because she could not afford to pay for transport! So, we quickly sorted that and were so blessed to see her return. Amazing that just £20 (a lot for Ugandans) enabled her to return to college and undertake her second year.

 

After leaving NVI, we had a quick change back at the hotel before going for lunch and then heading over to the Nile Park. Arriving at the park, we were soon followed by hundreds of UGA students from NVI. We set up some activities, split the students into groups and had the BEST afternoon. The students and UGA team all had so much fun! We played ‘domes and dishes’, a very competitive team game where you have to turn cones over to make a dome or dish shape. We also played ‘Duck Duck Goose’, which we renamed ‘Chicken Chicken Goat’, some parachute games, an egg and spoon race, some team ball races and the pairs races which included a three legged race, piggy back race and wheel barrow race. What I think struck many of us when we looked around was the faces of both the students and UGA team. There was not one person who didn’t have a huge smile and all you could hear was cheering and laughing. The games were followed by cake, soft drinks and ice cream (not an easy thing to transport in the Ugandan heat!) This gave the students and team time to talk, mingle and catch up with one another. It was a really wonderful day and we all came back tired, dusty and very happy!

Friday

Today was another early start over at NVI. As soon as we arrived, we couldn’t help but notice how great Yunusu’s workshop looked! The glossed bricks were gleaming and the white undercoat looked pristine. Today, we needed to put the final coat of colour on the outside and inside. Thankfully, there were no lizards which needed rescuing this morning, so we could get on straight away. The outside of the workshop was to be painted in a beautiful, bright ‘Harvest Gold’ and the inside a clean cream colour. We all got on with the cutting in and all commented on how lovely the colour was. It looked great against the glossy bricks. It didn’t seem to take us long before we were finished and we could see the end was in sight. All that was left to do was paint that floor inside and get the guttering up. We can’t wait for Yunusu to see it! After lunch, the hard work continued in the Business Studies department, where the team cleaned and got the first coat of paint on one of the classrooms. Thankfully, the carpentry students had made a ladder and scaffolding deck to help us.

 

While most of the team were busy in the business studies centre, our two teachers Rachel (Broadheath Primary School) and Lyndsey (Bowden Church School) snuck off to visit their partner schools. Broadheath is partnered up with Masese Co-Education Primary School and Bowden with Walukuba East Primary School. This was the first time that anyone from Broadheath has been out to visit Masese, so Rachel was very excited.

 

Rachel: We went to visit my school, Masese, first which is on the top of a great big hill. I knew that to get to the school we had to go through part of Masese slum. Although I had an idea of what I thought the slums might be like based on photos I’d seen and what I had seen on television, the reality of being there made them seem far worse. I was quite overwhelmed. When we arrived at the school there was a beautiful, if somewhat hazy, view over Lake Victoria. Before that though, there was more slums. Seeing where the children at the school were coming from, made me really think about how lucky myself and the children I teach are and I am very thankful for that. Unfortunately, Christine who is the head at Masese was unable to be there, but her deputy showed us around and arranged for a time that I could go in next week to teach. It was lovely to see and speak to some of the children and see their school. I just can’t wait to go back and get stuck in! After saying goodbye, we went back through the slum and over Walukuba East. We met with the head teacher there called Alice. Although Lyndsey had been to Walukuba before, there had been a different head then. Lyndsey gave Alice the many letters written to the pupils from Bowden and a gorgeous calendar she had made with photographs of all of the children from Bowden Church School. Lyndsey also arranged to go into school to teach next week and is also really looking forward to it.

 

After the team got back together, we all went for dinner at a lovely Chinese restaurant called Ling Lings. It was lovely to be joined by Edison and Japheth . Japheth is an ex NVI student who built Yunusu’s workshop!  

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Monday - Thursday of the 2019 trip!

The UgandAid team have arrived safely and have been very busy ever since. Unfortunately, between WiFi, laptop issues and power cuts, we hadn’t been able to get anything up on our blog until now. There is a lot to fill you in on.

 

After landing in Entebbe on Monday evening, we travelled to Kampala and then on to Jinja on Tuesday. It wasn’t the quickest of journeys, with a surprising amount of traffic, but we made it to our hotel and base and were received with the warmest of welcomes.

 

On Wednesday, the whole team were up bright and early to head over to Nile Vocational Institute, where we were welcomed back by Edison, the director, and his team. We were blown away by his enthusiasm and passion as he spoke about NVI and his vision for the future for the institute. We were then taken on a tour of the campus by Jospeh. He looks after the students at NVI and is a former student himself. He knew everything there was to know about the students. 

For those of the team visiting for the first time, we weren’t really sure what to expect, but there was so much which really impressed and moved us as we looked around. One thing we found, when speaking to teaching staff, was how passionate and knowledgeable they were about their subjects. They were clearly very proud of their work and of their students, with many of them being ex students of NVI themselves. We were particularly impressed by the welding student’s award winning sofa, which could be converted into bunk beds! We also found that the students produced some amazing products on, what we would consider to be, pretty basic equipment. The textile department were using beautiful old Singer sewing machines to make some gorgeous garments and the hairdressing department created some fabulous hairstyles with very few tools. We also went to visit the onsite nursery, which brightened everyone’s day. They children were very excited to see us and we were just as excited to meet them.

After a delicious lunch, provided by the catering students, we headed over to a brand new workshop, built into the new perimeter wall of the campus. The workshop is going to be for Yunusu as place for him to make, repair and sell shoes. The building had not long been completed and was in need of varnishing and painting, so we put on our scruffs and got ready for an afternoon of hard work. By 17:30, the difference was already pretty amazing (if we do say so ourselves). The exterior bricks had to be scraped, brushed, washed and varnished and the interior walls were scraped and cleaned. It was a filthy job and we were all very relieved to have a shower, but disappointed that our “tans” washed off! A much needed curry was had in Jinja.

 

On Thursday, we were all up early again and back at NVI after breakfast, to carry on with Yunusu’s workshop. Before we could start any work though, a poor gecko had to be rescued after it had tried to climb up a newly varnished wall and got stuck to it. Thanks to Simon, he was ok and ran off. The varnished bricks looked great and today was all about painting. Both inside and outside were tackled, with everyone mucking in and getting busy again. We managed to get two coats of undercoat on the exposed concrete on the outside, two coats of undercoat on the walls and ceiling inside and all the doors and window frames painted in a gorgeous red gloss. This was, of course, interrupted by yet another delicious lunch and some impromptu singing with the children from the onsite nursery. We all loved the new song they taught us about loving you neighbour as you love yourself. We finished off the day with a visit from Mary, an ex NVI student. She brought a lovely Valentine’s Day lemon cake for us and we all got to meet her beautiful 5 month old daughter, Paula. It was a great end to a great day.

More to follow shortly…

Joseph

Joseph

The team having lunch in Kampala, before setting off to Jinja.

The team having lunch in Kampala, before setting off to Jinja.

Children from the nursery at NVI.

Children from the nursery at NVI.

Joseph relaxing of the welding department’s award winning sofa.

Joseph relaxing of the welding department’s award winning sofa.

Ta da! Bunk beds!

Ta da! Bunk beds!

Yunusu’s workshop…before

Yunusu’s workshop…before

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Watch this space!

The 2019 UgandAid team are just about ready to set off for 2 weeks in Jinja. Whilst they’re away, keep up to date with everything they’re doing right here in our blog.

Internet access is by no means guaranteed, but the team will be posting as much as they can.

Please share this page or our facebook site with anyone interested in news from the team over the next few weeks.

https://www.facebook.com/ugandaid/

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