Jenny had been before, back in 2011 and we have photos and small reminders in our house, so I was prepared, or at least I thought so!
We arrived early on the Saturday evening and were soon surrounded by children and from thereon it never really changed. We stayed inside the Convent and were blessed with incredible hospitality throughout our stay. Of course, it’s basic (the power went down on Tuesday morning and didn’t return until Friday), but the love and care more than makes up for any small sacrifices.
We went to the Church across the road on Sunday and the joy of being with hundreds of others, was exhilarating. I’d explained to Sister Phina that I wanted to help with the older children and she took me at my word. Patrick, the P7 teacher, was brave enough to allow me to teach (mainly English & RE) for a few hours each day and that was an incredible experience.
The curriculum is very structured and while I loosely followed it, I also broke away. We learned some songs, we discussed life through question sessions and went into rhyme and jokes; there isn’t really time for things like this in their schedule, so they were often tough concepts for the kids to understand, but we got there.
In February 2015 St. Michael’s opened their doors to start a nursery class for the village. The interest and response has been amazing, and already there are over 100 children (girls and boys) at St. Michael’s. They have expanded and have opened another nursery school in Busembatia. …again with over 100 children.
We are delighted to announce that Mark Mortimer, Headmaster of Warminster School, and Julian Thomas, Master of Wellington College, are running the Marathon des Sables next month to raise money for the construction of teachers’ houses at St Michael’s Girls’ Primary School in Uganda. The 32nd Marathon des Sables will start in the Sahara Desert on 7th April. Competitors run 6 stages over 7 days in temperatures of around 50oC to complete the 250km (156 miles) course.
Endurance challenges are not new to Mark or Julian, between them they have rowed across the Atlantic and walked to the South Pole, but running in the burning, moving sands of the Sahara Desert will be very different from the ocean waves and freezing temperatures they have previously endured and conquered.
As well as the demands of being Headmasters of successful Independent Schools, they have committed themselves over many months to the intensive training needed for this gruelling race.
Nurse Jude after 4 years at St. Michael’s has gone back to college to enhance his qualifications, and we are delighted to welcome Nurse Zam to St. Michael’s. She is assisted in the Sick Bay by Nurse Rose. Having two resident nurses at the school means that the 4 bed medical centre is fully staffed every day throughout the year. Continue Reading
Here’s a Christmas card from us!
Bishop Willigers is a secondary school, located next door to St Michael’s and a few minutes walk down the road.
We are really pleased that Bishop Willigers Senior School continues to grow—A huge thank you to Morriston Rotary Club in Swansea for helping in so many ways to get this school “off the ground”. The big news is that in May 2016 the school received Exam Centre status. This will mean that the students can now take their National Examination (equivalent to GCSEs) at BW rather than having to travel daily to another Exam Centre several kms away. Within the next twelve months the school needs to build two classrooms to accommodate students not taking exams, to keep the UNEB happy, even if it just four walls and a roof, left unplastered with a dirt floor. Kennedy the Headmaster is striving to mobilise the community to volunteer their time and donate bricks.
There is still a long way to go! – and we are looking for donors to support us with this venture.
Between July and August, a group of 6 boys visited the school with a big project in mind – to build a dormitory for the boys living in the school. Successful with their venture, two of the volunteers, George and Tobias, have written a thorough recap of their time at the school. There are many challenges to be faced in a venture such as this, and we commend them for their generosity towards the people of St Michaels School!
The School Lunch Feeding Programme is now in its 9th year.
Giving the day girls a meal at lunchtime continues to be our main commitment to the school. There are over 500 girls who benefit every day from this small meal to keep them going through the long school day. Sadly school lunch provided for day children is still almost unheard of in Uganda. The government tries to encourage every school to mobilise to provide this essential meal…but with no money from the government to help fund a meal and schools with a high number of day children already struggling to find the money for scholastic materials, finding the funds to provide a lunch for every child is unachievable. Asking for volunteers and donations of maize from parents to support the school in this venture, is perhaps achievable in urban areas, but deep in the villages where educating a child….let along a girl child…is still considered with some suspicion this has proved far too unrealistic to be a serious option. There are energy efficient stoves at the school, which help to ensure that not too much firewood is used to prepare the huge pans of maize porridge.
Thanks to a Grant awarded to us by Cares 4 Kids we have been able to build a new washing facility for the girls.
Immediately on receipt of the Grant work started at record pace with a team of local workmen, headed up by our loyal builder (and St. Michael’s parent) Tom of Kayoro Construction Ltd.
The Boys’ Dorm Project is hosting a barn dance event with live music, dancing and an included meal! We encourage anyone to bring themselves and their family to our all-ages night of fun where we will be playing traditional Gaelic folk music in a ceilidh. No dancing skills required – just bring yourself, a hat and we’ll coordinate your dancing. We’ll be serving a meal halfway through the evening to keep you going and special family ticket prices to get everyone through the door. All the details for the event can be found on the barn dance page!