Pauline's Spotlight


“This is my first trip to Uganda, which has been superbly organized by Ugandaid.  There have been so many wonderful and thought-provoking experiences in this first week:

- Meeting the young people and staff at NVI

- Hearing individual stories of disadvantaged young people and how learning a new skill at NVI has transformed their life

- Making ‘Letters and Sounds’ phonic resources with Ness for trainee teachers.  A whole variety have been made using plastic bottles and tops, string, scissors, metal beer tops and a marker pen!   The phonics training will be delivered later in the week.

- Transforming 2 classrooms and an office at NVI Motor Vehicle section so that young people and their teachers have a decent environment in which to work.

In the week to come I look forward to visiting Walakuba East Primary School with up to 100 children per class (!) a school for the blind and a village outside of Jinja.

The fellowship with my fellow travelling companions has been truly warm and uplifting.  Thank you so much Ugandaid for all you have done.”


Paul G's Spotlight

“We read in Genesis that when the Lord God had finished creation he declared that it was good.  Seeing some of the wondrous sights in this beautiful African country make me want to declare along with scripture that creation is good. 

Yet, set against this is the terrible poverty of many people seen throughout the vast urban sprawl, which spreads from the airport in Entebbe through Kampala and out towards Jinja where we are staying.  The sights and sounds mesmorise the senses, and there is so much rubbish everywhere, marring the beauty of what God has given. 

The many young people are so positive, so welcoming, so eager to learn and eager also to given praise to God.  It is so different and a great privilege and pleasure to be here.”

Paul G.JPG

Emily's Spotlight

“My focus throughout the trip has been with Nile Vocational Institute (NVI).  Before leaving to come to Uganda, the company I work for (RSK), showed a phenomenal amount of support and encouragement for the projects Ugandaid are doing.

This has lead to organizing a meeting with RSK’s East African projects team and NVI to discuss ways to fill any gaps in the current curriculum so NVI can meet the standards required for students to go directly into industry, as well as possible appointments for industrial placements and hopefully create lasting connections.

Alongside this, the money raised by RSK has been enough to sponsor a student through a two-year training course at NVI.  The student is Amos Ssewonkambo, who is just starting on the welding and sheet metal work course.  It was such a joy meeting him on Sunday, hearing about his life and heart warming to see how happy and gracious he is about having the opportunity to study and to achieve his dream to work and see distant countries through this.”


Day 7 - Rafting and the Haven

Helen and Jan arrived in Jinja yesterday to complete the team.  We are now 24.

Today is officially a day off so 8 intrepid adventurers headed off to brave the Nile rapids: Eamon, Emily, Isaac, Laurie, Paul, Peter, Richard and Stuart.

Phil, Yvonne, Christine and Ness paid a quick introductory visit to Walakuba East Primary School while Tony, Naomi and Ritchie went into Jinja. Pauline made more phonic resources; Gill, Sheila and Angie wound skeins of wool into balls.  Jan and Helen sorted out cases full of clothes, Steve worked on the accounts, Andrew worked on his sermon for Sunday.

Most of the non-rafters spent the rest of the day at The Haven – a beautiful spot with an amazing view over the first set of the rafters’ rapids on the river Nile.  A temporary office was set up on the outdoor tables and lots of talking, discussion, planning, preparation and blogging completed.

Day 6 - Worship at NVI and Games at the Source

Today was Sunday.  On Sundays it has become a tradition for the Ugandaid team to be invited to attend the weekly worship service at NVI with the students.

This was not your ordinary service.  Although it was lead by NVI’s pastor, Rev. Luke, the students played a large part which involved a dazzling array of music, dancing, singing and skits (drama sketches). We were blown away by the colour, vibrance, noise and total freedom of expression in the students’ worship.

A visiting bishop delivered a powerful message on the importance of holding on to what we know to be right and not to compromise our Christian beliefs because of pressure from others.  He told us to ‘do what God has put in our hearts to do.  God is looking for men and women who can stand up for the truth’.

It has become another tradition for the team to organize a games afternoon at a local beauty spot over looking the source of the Nile.  Angie did a brilliant job of planning and organizing games for 150 students.  They were split into 8 teams (of roughly 16 in each) and led by 2 of the team.  We played duck, duck, goose, ladders and relay races of various types.  One game involved dressing one from each team in a hat, scarf, gloves and flip flops, undressing and then redressing them – in the form of a relay race.  Another took a little more explaining and involved collecting balloons (water-filled) and then stealing from other teams with the aim of ending up with one of each colour.  The competition was rife and some teams even resorted to cheating.   The games ended with balloon bursting and football.  The 150 ice-creams arrived still frozen  and were handed out with a cake each as well.

We all had an absolutely brilliant afternoon full of fun and laughter.  It was wonderful to have an opportunity after the games were finished to spend time chatting and getting to know (or reconnecting with) the students.  It is very moving to hear their stories and expressions of gratitude for the opportunity they have been given by Ugandaid and NVI. Many of the students have a strong Christian faith and tell us how thankful they are to God, assuring us that they will work very hard and achieve good results.  It has proved to be the case that Ugandaid students consistently perform very well in their studies.


Day 5 - The Grand Finish

A busy morning adding finishing touches – cleaning the floor, completing the gloss work, polishing windows, repainting the blackboards and finally preparing the floor with acid and then painting with floor paint.  We are all very pleased with the finished result.  We lunched on bananas and nuts.

There are lots of plans being made for next week – it looks like the rest of our time here is going to be very busy with team members involved in a variety of projects.

We are really excited about the NVI Sunday church service tomorrow.  We have heard the students practicing their very lively worship songs. 

Day 4 The Big Gloss on a National Holiday

Today is a National Holiday in Uganda.  The traffic was thankfully quiet, especially on the bridge across the Nile leading to Nile Vocational Institute.

It was heart warming to see the staff at NVI, on what should be a holiday for them, still providing us with the warmest hospitality, which included a hearty lunch of fish and chips (Ugandan style).

Another day of painting the mechanics classrooms was at the centre of our work.  Now the walls of the two classrooms and small offices had received a generous undercoat, the final gloss layer could be applied.

People spent the afternoon in various ways – some went into Jinja, some made resources for a teacher training session at NVI next week using 100s of plastic water bottles.   Meetings were held to arrange the student picnic/games afternoon on Sunday and church services.  The core team have many other meetings and arrangements going on in the background with the common aim of improving lives.

The weather here in Uganda these last few days has been very sunny but extremely hot, even for the locals.  Our dedicated tam leaders; Christine, Peter, Phil, Steve, Tony and Naomi, made sure everyone drank enough water and kept out of the 35°C heat as much as possible.

Over the last few days we have heard many inspiring stories from ex-students and staff and NVI, mainly the stories of Joshua, Joseph, Emanuel and Simon Peter who came to our hotel especially to share their experiences with us.   We will be sharing some of these stories on this blog over the next few days.


Day 3 - More Hard Work at the NVI

A hard day’s work by all scraping and painting undercoat, punctuated by a very welcome lunch provided by the catering students.  The 2 classrooms are beginning to shape up and we hope to finish the gloss work tomorrow.

We all feel so welcome and appreciated here.   Many of the people at NVI have been expressing their gratitude for the long-term commitment, shown by the Ugandaid team, to the work at NVI.  Deep loving relationships have been built up between core members of the team and staff and students and this is very evident.

It has been fantastic to meet former students and hear their life stories about how NVI has changed their life.  NVI is a truly wonderful place with a visionary leader who aspires for NVI to be the best.  As well as providing 3-year vocational training courses, NVI also offer basic skills training for vulnerable young people. 

We have all been struck by the strong Christian faith of the teaching staff and how this is evident in the love and care shown to students.

Day 2 - Nile Vocational Institute

Our first day started with Prayers and Reflection led by Andrew, our resident pastor.  He encouraged us to think about the things we are thankful for, which was an easy task.


The teams first visit to the Nile Vocational Institute of the 2018 trip started with a warm welcome from Edison, the acting director, and his staff; Robert (Finance and Accounting Director), Prossi (Human Resources), Rogers (Student Welfare), Reverent Luke (Pastor and French and Swahili teacher), Judith (Accountant) and Joseph (Industrial training and Ugandaid coordinator).


It is evident that NVI live out their Christian beliefs and ethos in everything they do. Despite their lack of resources Edison gives thanks to God showing his deep and living faith.

The team was provided the most delicious late breakfast, prepared by the wonderful students studying Catering and Hotel Management.   This consisted of samosas, fresh fish fingers, chicken thighs, potatoes, chapatti’s and freshly made coleslaw.

We were given the grand tour by Edison where we saw the Institute’s students hard at work in the welding and sheet metal application, plumbing, carpentry, catering & hotel management, textiles, secretarial, agricultural, bricklaying & concrete practice, hairdressing, early years childcare and electrical installation departments.  The appreciation, shown by the Institutes staff, for the hard work and dedication of Ugandaid was overwhelming.

The dedicated Ugandaid team spent the afternoon cleaning the Motor Mechanic classrooms in preparation for painting – a hot and dirty job but with 22 at work son accomplished. 

Ugandaid 2018 Journey Begins!!

After a very long flight, late night and early start the Ugandaid 2018 journey finally began.

We were expertly driven by our dedicated Katenda, through the bustling streets of Kampala and onward for 4 hot, sticky and bumpy hours to our final destination of Jinja.

A well earned rest at the beauty spot, the Nile Palace, was had by all before an evening meal and the surprise appearance of Eddison, the acting director of the Nile Vocational Institute, whom we are very much looking forward to seeing tomorrow when the hard work really begins. 

Bags loaded.  Waiting for the off!!
Stretching our legs.  Getting hotter every minute!!
Taking in Uganda as we drive along.
Journey down to the Nile with Isaac
Hard earned rest after a long day of travelling.

Pot holes in the sky

Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 22nd

As we prepared to leave, we reflected on what has been given this trip, and more importantly, what we have received. The overwhelming feeling was that we have received far more than we’ve given. The friendships we’ve nurtured over the years are really worth celebrating as they provide the trust needed to make a positive change in Uganda. We can offer resources, knowledge and hope, but it’s the Ugandan people who drive change

Christine talked of the student she and Peter have sponsored at NVI for four years. His father died many years ago, leaving the family to struggle in poverty. What he did receive was a piece of land, his inheritance. The student is so thankful for the training he’s received at NVI and opportunity given that he offered the land to be used for UgandAid, for training others in useful skills. This young man has very little in life, and is prepared to give it all away.

We’ve been touched by the sincere thanks and stories of hope throughout the trip, and were reminded of the time Geoff and Julie’s student’s family gave them a bic biro. They have nothing, this is all they could offer in thanks, but the gesture is so special.

Going back home to a place where we have so much, I (Naomi B) feel immense gratitude for what we have, and also sometimes that I could do and give more. 

The journey home was not without it’s funny stories. From Ola accosting a stranger in Entebbe airport and embarking on a conversation only to realize when he turned round that it wasn’t marshy, to Naomi T hitting another passenger in the head with falling flip-flops from the overhead cabins. The prize of the day must go to Julie C for setting off the smoke detector in the plane toilets by spraying deodorant and being met by 4 cabin crew who were less than impressed! After some significant turbulence between Entebbe and Kigali (even in the sky you can’t escape African pot holes!), and a long journey back, the team all arrived safely in Manchester on Wednesday morning.

Over the next few months we’ll start putting together names for next years trip. If you’re ready to have your heart moved and cry with both laughter and sadness, please get in touch with Christine Booth. 

Missing blog entry - Tuesday 14th

Tuesday 14th - apologies, this one didn't get published at the right time

Today was a day off for most of us – although Jan, Eddie and Helen still did a full session at Gospel Cross, continuing the teaching around pre and anti-natal health.

Others chilled in the resort, went into town or visited a nice hotel on the Nile called Haven. The mad ones went white water rafting.

15 miles of rapids, falls and beautiful scenery with amazing birds and even a river snake at the start to add a little extra nervousness to the already nervous.

Here's a few pictures that will either put you off for life, or make you sign up to do it next year!

So thrilling, so tiring and so very wet. I never thought I would spend so much time up to my neck in the Nile!!


Moaning and groaning

Sunday morning we were at NVI, where we saw the UgandAid choir in action, martialled by Geoff and Julie, they belted out some traditional songs, in complete contrast to the high energy raps and gospel songs of our hosts.

We provided the students and opportunity to laugh at us as we attempted a skit of the good samaritan involving Nigel dramatically moaning and groaning on the floor. He literally lay there are said “moaning and groaning”. Geoff interviewed Unis, showing the students his immense positivity and determination to succeed through adversity. After the service we ate lunch under the mango tree, chatted to students and even taught Unis to play dominos.

In the afternoon, it was our turn to host as friends from around Jinja came to Hotel Paradise for an early evening party and families enjoyed the food available. We were touched by some of the personal stories told over food, and by the strength of friendships developed over the years.

As the guests left, the team chatted into the night about all we had experienced.

Tomorrow a few people will go to Kathy’s Centre to look at the finished job, others will wrap up with Gospel Cross, and a few will go to say goodbye to staff and NVI. 

Kingfishers and Fish Eagles

Saturday 18th

A strenuous drive through the Masese slum came to a halt when the busses could go no further. The breakfast was delivered the last 500yards on foot, by the students. Over 170 students were given sandwiches, bananas and a drink. Teams entertained the children with games and teaching and all enjoyed another eye opening morning.

The afternoon was spent on a river boat taken to the bubbling spring that Speke discovered to be the source of the Nile. Birds of all shapes, sizes and colours from a tiny but beautiful Kingfisher to the majestic African Fish Eagle with its 8 foot 6 inch wing span.

An evening meeting some old friends including Rev Neal Stanton who was last in Jinja with the team 10 years ago, and two friends of Nigel and Julies from Sheffield.

We met Unis, a polio victim, who told us his amazing story. We first met him 3 years ago in one of the villages where we’d funded a new house to be built for him. Over the lat few years Unis has always made the effort to walk with his crutches to where we are working, and often acted as translator for us. His unwavering positive attitude and smile are captivating. In October Peter travelled to Kampala with Unis to buy special shoes needed with his calipers, only to find the shop had a workshop and training scheme. In January Unis embarked upon this training and hopes to set up shop and train others in Jinja. He’s a remarkable man, and I can’t do his story justice in these few sentences.

Stable doors

A little anecdote from Naomi:

In Uganda it’s fairly common to walk into a bathroom only to find the door springs back into your face having bounced off some inappropriately placed item such as a sink or toilet. I’ve seen my fair share of quirky bathroom arrangements, locks made out of a bent nail or a twig holding to door shut, but what I found today was totally new, and really made me giggle.

There’s a café called the Source on Jinja high street. I popped to the ladies and pushed the cubicle door open. As the door swung open, I realised someone had cut the bottom foot off the door so that it just cleared the top of the toilet seat as it swung inwards! It looked like just the top half of a stable door! 

Netball in the rain

Friday 17th

In the school bus we headed to a love pizza restaurant overlooking lake Victoria for lunch. The route took us past the old golf course where colonials played and were allowed a free drop if the ball came to rest in the footprint of a hippo!

The restaurant was across the road from Gospel Cross, where Betty and Chris have been hosting Dr Jan and her team all week. As it was the last day, certificates were presented to the CORPS, and doing what Ugandan’s do best, giving speeches.

The afternoon took us back to NVI to meet the new students and to take part in a sports afternoon with a game of netball in the rain (how very British!). Amazingly, we won 8-7, but I have no idea how. The UgandAid students also beat the staff at a football match, making it a clean sweep for UgandAid!

The day ended with a few relaxing drinks, but not until we had made hundreds of jam and peanut butties for breakfast at Masese tomorrow morning.