Kathy's Centre revisited

This was our first full day in Jinja. Most of the team had been involved with decorating the interior of Kathy’s centre last year. We were thrilled to make another visit there today to see how things had progressed. We were not disappointed. In fact the last 2 or 3 weeks have seen huge strides forward.

The kindergarten is now fully operational. The headmaster, Basil, was so excited to explain how the main classroom has been set out into 10 learning centres. He described how each activity centre involved the kids in a fun activity with a learning objective. The techniques are quite unusual for Uganda, but we were able to see just how engrossed the kids were. We were told about one child had gone missing from home last Saturday (a non-school day) and had been later found trying to make their own way to school – they could not bear the thought of not going that day.

Then there was the progress with an outside play area. This had been designed and built by Oliver from Cool Canvas, together with an Act for Africa work party. They had all come from the UK especially for this project. The area included an activity tree which needed to be surrounded by sand; a water flow which used rain collected water to flow through a bed of stones and ended up watering a plant growing area; an outside home area with a mud kitchen and shop counter all designed for imaginative play. Joan and Phil set too spreading sand around the activity tree. A small team from NVI, led by the wonderful Japheth, were helping with creating this outside play area.

The goat compound was occupied by 20 goats, 7 of which were newly born. They looked strong and healthy and have their own state of the art housing unit so they have protection when the heavy rains fall. They are cross breeding a larger breed of goat with the smaller local ones. In about a year’s time they will be able to start generating an income from this project.

We watched the brick makers at work, they were using an eco-technique that used very little cement and could be cured in two weeks without firing which saves precious wood. These will be used for the new building going up on the site.

Once the introductions were over we were able to pass on some toys and books that had been donated for the project. Eddie distributed his woollen dolls, crazy wigs and of course lollies. There were lots of good conversations with Patrick, Oliver, Japheth, Basil and the other teachers.

It was soon time for the 1 hour journey back to Jinja. The road is still under construction, but is in a much better state than 12 months ago. We were fascinated to see a roadside stone quarry with men and women breaking up huge boulders to make the stones for the road hard-core. Everyone was taking every opportunity to earn a few extra shillings.

The afternoon was spent in Jinja changing money, having lunch at the popular cafe, The Source and having a first venture around the shops. More of that later . . .

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Oliver and his play tree

Oliver and his play tree

Oliver and the texture kitchen and shop

Oliver and the texture kitchen and shop

The children playing with the counting activity

The children playing with the counting activity

The children and the water play

The children and the water play

Emmanuel's story

24 year old Emmanuel is an inspiration and a true testament to the power of vocational training and sponsorship. 

Emmanuel is a bright, engaging, confident and chatty young man. 

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He grew up in the north of Uganda with 7 siblings. Three have sadly already passed away. With one of his brothers, he resorted to living on the street to escape the family who were wasting their lives with drinking and not working. He met an ex NVI student who recommended NVI and his application was successful. 

5 years later, he's completed 2 courses at NVI, starting with 3 years of Junior level motor vehicle mechanics, then 2 years on the more advanced Craft course. 

Whilst at NVI he took opportunities such as joining the gymnastics club (imagine human pyramids and jumping through hoops on fire). Emma was also proactive in establishing community initiatives to help encourage and aid those in poverty in the local rural areas. 

He's currently working as a mechanic in Kampala at The Cooper Motor Corporation Ltd, and also with an Indian company (Avianaerospace) to introduce drone technology to Uganda. 

I cant do justice to the words he used when he told us a little about his life. He spoke passionately about NVI, the skills he has gained and his plans for the future. 

He has incredible self belief, and rightly so. It's  men like Emmanuel who are changing Uganda for the better. His aim for the future is to be successful. When asked what he ment by this, he said simply for him this means:
- being happy
- changing his family for the better, and
- giving back to his country by support others and sponsoring children through education

His desire to raise up the next generation of Ugandans brought tears to many eyes.

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Team 2 arrive

With two delayed flights to Brussels it was a rush for both groups to make the Entebbe flight. But we all made it safely and all had seats within the same section so there was time to catch up with each other. Just one missing case to report – we hope that will turn up in the next 24 hours. We had a glimpse of two team 1 members though the window into the departure lounge. Amid much waving and gestures we gathered they had had a good time!

We stopped overnight in Entebbe at a hotel not used by the team before – it was interesting. You have to keep reminding yourself this is Africa and get on with it.

It was a late night and after 5 hours we woke for breakfast with the sound of very heavy rain and thunder. You could not believe how wet you can get walking the 20 meters to the breakfast bar.

Soon we were on the now familiar road to Kampala and Jinja. It was a straight forward journey with fewer holdups than usual. It was great to turn into the road leading to our hotel and see the welcoming party in the middle of the road waving vigorously. The team 2 was now complete.

Once everyone was settled into what is to be our rooms for the next two weeks, we headed off to a beautiful spot overlooking the Nile for much needed food, a drink and lots of excited chatter. This may be the team for those who have been before but it does not lessen the sense of anticipation for what’s to come.

Day 13 - Worship service at NVI and Lunch at Jinja Yacht Club

Today was the big day when the team led the Sunday worship at NVI.  We had practised our songs (City on a Hill and 10,000 Reasons – selected by Gill) and rehearsed our skit (under the direction of Ritchie) over the past few days.  Andrew had prepared his talk based on the story of the Wise and Foolish Builder – and our skit featured Christine and Phil in the starring roles.   We were a little concerned that our dramatic efforts would not live up to expectations but we needn’t have worried – it was very well received, especially the part when Paul and Tony ran up and down the aisles shooting water guns simulating the rain and storms.

Andrew’s talk centred on the importance of having a strong foundation of faith in Jesus and how that faith will carry us through the storms of life.  Steve offered the opportunity of receiving prayer at the end of the service and several came forward.

After the service we were able to spend time with the students and staff under the shade of a marquee.  It was a great opportunity to get to know each other better and we were sad to say goodbye.

Lunch was booked at Jinja Sailing Club – the smartest and most expensive place any of us had ever been to in Uganda.  It is in a beautiful setting on the banks of the River Nile and we sat outside to eat with our guests – the Senior Management Team of NVI; Eddison, Prossy, Robert, Rogers, Joseph and Rev Luke.  We spent a wonderful relaxed afternoon together and reflected on all we have seen and done over the past 2 weeks.

 

Day 12 - Macedonian Vision Africa Project & Boat Trip

 

Today we were taken to the Macedonian Vision Africa (MVA) project, created and run by Pasteur Alfred.

 

Pasteur Alfred purchased the land over 15 years ago and time spent every day walking around the perimeter, praying that eventually it would become a training institute specifically for the young people of the Masese slum area.

 

We received a warm welcome from Pasteur Alfred’s daughter, Christine.  Christine is in charge of the girls who stay at the institute in their off site dormitories to keep them safe.

 

Christine spends most of her time working in the neighbouring Masese slum, encouraging the girls to come to the institute to train rather than remain in poverty.

 

Christine was attacked in December after encouraging one of the girls to continue with her training instead of entering into a forced marriage after having a baby.  This meant that her guardians missed out on the normal dowry and it is suspected that they organised the attack as a reprisal.  This was then followed up by an arson attack on the dormitory itself, which destroyed all of Christine’s personal belongings.  Thankfully no one was harmed on this occasion, but it highlights NVA’s highest priority, which is to raise funds in order to purchase an on site dormitory where the students will be safe.

The morning ended with a walk through the Masese slum with Christine followed by lunch provided by Pasteur Alfreds wife, Rose.  We finally met Pasteur Alfred after lunch where he gave some brief word’s.

The day was completed with boat trip around Lake Victoria and the source of the River Nile. 

Day 11 - Crochet, Phonics Teaching, Meeting New Students and Games at NVI

Today’s focus was the official meeting of the new students at NVI.  Some of the team went early to give crochet lessons, attend hair-dressing classes and give phonics teaching to students prior to the days main activities.

Sheila, Angie and Gill were delighted with the enthusiasm with which the students took to learning crochet, despite using pencils rather than crochet hooks.  Visiting them a second time opened up the opportunity to develop relationships that could be built upon.  The subject of homelessness in the UK was discussed.  The students were appalled that this is possible in the UK or and other developed country when we have so much.

Sheila, Angie and Gill also attended a hair-dressing lesson where they were given instruction on hair extensions and received a new hair style.  The students were fascinated at the texture of their hair.  The team noted the facilities were woefully inadequate and yet the students were still delighted to be there.

Ness and Pauline have spent the last week making phonics resources, using plastic water bottles and cut up cardboard boxes, in order to deliver phonics training to the Evelyn, the Head of NVI teaching section and her students as well as to Betty and her staff at Victoria Baptist School.   They were delighted to learn about how phonics is taught in the UK and particularly pleased with the emphasis on using available resources.  We all had lots of fun and the students joined in with each activity enthusiastically.  Jan will be visiting Betty’s school next week and is looking forward to seeing that some of the activities will already have been implemented.

In the afternoon it was time to finally meet each new student and pair them with their individual sponsor (if they have one).  Each new student was given a gift bag by the Ugandaid team which included things like toothpaste and soap.  It was heart warming to see the joy of each new student when they met their personal sponsor for the first time.

Some of the existing students were also given gifts which included hand made post cards by the children at Broadoak School in Partington, UK.  There were various different designs which reflected British traditions such as poppies, red busses and full English breakfasts and the relationship with Uganda.

The day ended with a sports afternoon including netball, volleyball and football.  The football match was played between new students versus old students.  The new students won 2-0.  The Ugandaid team was then invited to compete in a tug of war against the NVI staff, where, to the delight of all the students, Ugandaid won.

Laurie's Spotlight

“Having know a few of the Ugandaid team for a number of years I have formed an impression of what to expect on this, my first trip.  However, now coming to the end of the second week I realise how I totally underestimated the experience.

The friendly welcome at NVI and all the schools and villages were close to overwhelming.  I have ben repeatedly and profoundly amazed by the engagement and enthusiasm of the pupils of young and old.

Similarly the enthusiasm of the teaching staff appeared to be boundless despite the extreme lack of resources and large class numbers, often 75 or more.

I hope that Ugandaid and NVI can continue to develop and provide hope for the youth of Uganda.”

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Jan's Spotlight

“It has been a challenge to cope with ‘small’ groups of 30, rather than the expected ten!  Helen and I are learning a lot however; drama, glitter games, snakes and ladders and word searches have all helped to get the preventative health message across.

The Ugandaid team have pitched in wholeheartedly – and that is a HUGE help.  Our Gospel Gross friends have worked so hard to prepare and facilitate this trip.  Thank you!!

God is good – all the time.

All the time – God is good!"

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Day 10 - Walukuba East Primary School & Party in the Village

A group of us went to visit the staff and children at Walukuba East Nursery and Primary School, which is partnered with Ness’ school in the UK (Bowdon Church School).  We all split up and visited a number of classrooms, with up to 60 children in each.

We thought I would be a great idea to teach them “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”  This went down a storm and to our surprise most of the children already knew it.  It was amazing to see the joy in the children interacting with us.  Some classrooms even sang to us their own songs which was an honor to hear.

Ness and Pauline spent their time in the younger classes (Baby, Middle and Top Nursery) and used the glitter activity to teach about the importance of hand washing.

We had time after the classroom visits to mingle during break time.  Most of the children (1,000 +) simply wanted to chase us around and pose for photographs.

The afternoon and evening was spent back at the same local village we visited on Tuesday.  This time we split into groups and carried out eye health workshops with the villagers using interpreters to break the language barrier.  This type of education is essential as awareness of the small things, such as regularly washing hands to prevent the spread of infection and noticing symptoms of infection and conditions, which can keep eyes and eyesight healthy, is limited.  We taught on the importance of a varied diet – in particular vitamin A – and of visiting a health clinic if an eye condition develops.  We showed pictures of pictures of a baby with sticky eyes, people with cataracts, a child with measles, a child with trachoma and these were all studied with great interest.

Afterwards the village elder asked people to come forward and say what they had learned from the training and it was encouraging to hear that the messages appeared to have been understood.

The afternoon ended with speeches from villagers and Edison, who came along from NVI, supper and an amazing party with drums and dancing.  It was so good to see the happiness in the many the children, especially when we handed out soft drinks in cartons (with straws), balloons and glow sticks, which some of them had never seen before. 

Stuart's Spotlight

It is ten years since I was last in Uganda.  The journey from Entebe to Jinja is the same fascinating experience.  The increase in new buildings and businesses was apparent.   The welcome that we have received is spectacular and the joy of the people that we meet is overwhelming.

The project at NVI, cleaning and painting two classrooms, was completed in good time.  The teachers and students were so please to see the Ugandaid team.

It is a testament to the years of relationship between Ugandaid and NVI that so many students have been sponsored and lives transformed.

My experiences have been working on the project, Sunday morning service at NVI, games in the park with 150 students and white water rafting.  But, the thing that stands out is the love, joy and dedication and determination of the staff and students at NVI to improve life for the student.

Thanks to the Ugandaid team for organising this 2018 trip and thank you to the team that has worked so well together.

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Day 8 - NVI, Gospel Cross and Spire Road Primary School

Today was a day of options for everyone.  One group taught around  30 Textile students to crochet using the hooks and wool they had been given from home.  Tony fixed the light fittings in the Motor Vehicle Mechanics classrooms and another group went with the Gospel Cross organization -  led by Betty, Harriet, Agri and Sam – to a local village school.  We used materials from the Healthy Eyes Activity Book to teach about the importance of a healthy diet, immunization against measles and face washing.  We had lots of fun playing a related snakes and ladders game which reinforced the key messages.

Later another group visited Spire Road Primary School in Jinja.  This school has provision for 52 blind or visually impaired children who are fully integrated into their year group classes each of which has over 50 children.  There are also 7 teachers of braille (6 of whom are visually impaired themselves).  The children learn by using a pre-brailler frame before using a full brailler. 

The head teacher is truly inspiring and has a big heart for these children.  We were met there by Pastor Alfred, who is the Chair of Governors.  We were told that there is insufficient funding for these children – who are all boarders at the school – and they rely on donations from well-wishers even to provide enough food.  They have no canes and there are insufficient braillers and braille paper.

Paul S's Spotlight

“Even after the orientation meetings I wasn’t sure what to expect on arrival.  After the first week I am now becoming more aware of the history of NVI and the relationship Ugandaid have with it.

I feel privileged to have been able to contribute a small amount of my time to make NVI a better place for its students, one of which we are looking forward to meeting and sponsoring.

The experience of a small piece of village life was a real eye opener.  The effort expended and gratitude expressed by the villagers was humbling.  I found Jinja town centre both exciting and challenging, due to its array of shops and restaurants, but also because getting there and back required hiring a boarder-boarder motorcycle ride.

I already have many memories from the trip, not forgetting the white water rafting on the Nile.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the trip and may repeat in the near future.”

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Ness' Spotlight

It’s great to be back in Uganda and I am so proud to be with the amazing Ugandaid team this year. 

We have met so many old friends of the team since we’ve been here and it is clear that relationship is at the heart of all that Ugandaid stand for.  We hear time and time again of lives being transformed and we hear of people’s thankfulness to God for the work of Ugandaid. 

The team work together with their Ugandan friends to improve lives and there is a palpable sense of optimism and hope. 

Our school’s 2 students Dilish and Timothy are delightful  - full of thankfulness to God and hope for the future - and it’s been so good to get to know them.  I will be very sad to say goodbye.

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Richard's Spotlight

Throughout my time in Uganda so far, through all the things we have done and people we have met, the one thing that is hugely apparent is the amazing work that Ugandaid have done here over the last 18 years.  It is humbling to see the relationships that have been built up over the years and the expression on people’s faces when we arrive and the gratitude that is shown.

My time here and the help I have provided is a drop in the ocean compared to the work NVI have done here over the years.  I am so grateful to have been invited along and to have been given the opportunity to experience this wonderful country and its people and to give as much as I can.

There have been so many experiences throughout my time here, from the journey to Jinja, painting classrooms and NVI, the Sunday service at NVI, games in the park with the NVI students, white water rafting and the trip to the village, it is impossible to single one out. 

The team on this trip, the majority of which are first timers in Uganda, have made this trip for me.  I couldn’t have asked for a more kind, loving and helpful group of people to experience this with. 

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Angie's Spotlight

I came to Jinja with absolutely no expectations other than to be challenged and I have been!

First by the heat!  But every day has brought something new and I have loved being able to engage with the students from NVI and the staff too – hearing stories from those who’ve been through the college has moved me deeply. 

Yesterday (Sunday) was my biggest challenge; organizing games for around 150 Ugandaid students but thankfully it went well and it was so good to see them joining in and having such fun – not one of them staying on the sidelines.

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Sheila's Spotlight

“Wow!  I’m not sure what I was expecting but it’s much better!  A country of contrasts – beautiful scenery – yet terrible living conditions.  And then NVI – wonderful staff who care for the students in all aspects of their lives, providing love and care that some students have never known.  It’s great to see girls learning Motor Vehicle Mechanics and Electrical Installation and being encouraged to do so. 

I find that the whole ethos of the place is uplifting.”

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Gill's Spotlight

As a nurse I jumped at the opportunity to accompany Peter to Jinja muslim hospital to visit Lukia, a student whose ankle wound was not healing well after a traffic accident.  What a culture shock!  The consulting room was a dirty office piled high with orthopedic equipment.  The surgeon removed the dressing, poured various chemicals over the wound before dressing it with dry gauze and tape.  The wound was not swabbed or checked for infection.    A culture swab costs around £20 here which is unaffordable for most Ugandans, neither can they afford antibiotics.

The hospital had 4 wards, each containing 6 metal beds.  Patients are required to provide their own mattress.  The pit latrine toilets had very little hand-washing water and no soap.  Patients bathe in a trough in the courtyard.

My husband and I had wanted to sponsor a student and decided to sponsor Lukia over a 3-year textile and tailoring course.  It seemed right that having been involved in the care of her ankle wound that we should sponsor Lukia.  Amazingly, a friend at church had given me £20 as God had told her to.  We have used that money to pay for the swab  which was required.  If the wound is found to be infected we will ensure that she receives the antibiotics she needs.  She is a beautiful girl who is cared for by her grandmother, Diana.

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Tony's Spotlight

“There is always a great deal of satisfaction in looking back at the results of a completed Ugandaid restoration project.  The committed and resourceful 2018 team have transformed 2 classrooms at the Motor Vehicle Mechanics Centre at NVI.  The stunning results are a statement of the desire of the team to demonstrate their compassion for the students of NVI and to stand with them in building a future full of hope and potential.  It is always a great privilege to be involved in this process.”

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