Uganda update – Monday 27 March

At our evening meeting on 27 March, we heard from the team from Winchester Rotary about their visit to Kasese, Uganda in early January.  We were delighted to have among our guests, of which there a number, John and Myra Wilkinson, and Derek Davidson.  Both John and Derek (retired members of Winchester Rotary) have been involved in work in Uganda in previous years. John in education and Derek in sight-saving work as an optician.

The presentation, in which all members of the team were involved, covered the various issues explored and visits made during the visit.  Luke Addison opened with an overview of our club’s connection with the Kasese region, reminding us of his trip when President of Winchester Rotaract, to Kasese with John and Myra, under the auspices of Education Uganda (a charity originally founded by John).  It was then that Luke got to meet for the first time, Farouk Kibaba, Afan Abdallah and Arafat Bwambale – members of the Kasese Rotaract Club.  Nick Bell followed, and explained how the Rotaract members, under the leadership of Farouk had gone on to set up the Great Lakes Peace Centre,  Since then GLPC has established several projects and initiatives working on sustainability, peacebuilding, education and health – to mention just a few!  Nick also showcased our most recent project – the provision of a new library at a school in Bwera, in Kasese District.

The youngest member of the team, Zephan Saeed, then described conditions at some of the schools visited.  He drew attention to the fact that education is not a right in Uganda, and families have fees to pay.  He contrasted the conditions of overcrowded and neglected classrooms with his own Hampshire school.

Gill Russell described our pupil sponsorship programme, which continues to grow – we now have 30 pupils in three schools with sponsors.  The group had taken six extra suitcases filled with clothes and other equipment which had been distributed at two of the school visits.  The problem of disability was also covered – there are young polio survivors in Uganda, and one of the latest sponsored students is a polio survivor, who was provided with a new pair of crutches.  the leader of one of the women’s groups visited, is also a polio survivor.

Deborah Macartney covered the work of the women’s groups in more detail – domestic abuse, and empowerment of women.  Micro-finance has a vital role to play – another area where we have helped.  Skills in craftwork are a means whereby women can gain an income.  Ensuring girls do not miss out on education is of tremendous importance.  Deborah also described, from a nursing perspective, conditions at Bwera Hospital – the labour ward in particular, which is terribly overcrowded.  At the same time, she praised the dedication of the overworked staff.

Kordo and Naz Saeed continued the medical overview with details of their visit to the laboratories at the hospital  Tremendous work is being done, with limited facilities, but in some ways, the work is more detailed and thorough, with less wastage. Naz emphasised the way in which equipment was sterilised and reused rather than disposed of.

Paul Russell covered the flood resettlement project, following devasting floods in the area and the work being done to resettle those affected.  The photos showed the extent of the damage.  A related project is the “goat project”  – a goat can provide income to the recipient – the first kid is returned for further distribution, but future kids are kept by the recipient.

Luke then drew on Thomas Bwambale’s experience with Tools for Self-Reliance, to demonstrate how Thomas is now leading work on metal fabrication with a group of disadvantaged young men, using the skills learnt during his time with TFSR.

Nick closed the presentation with a reference to some of the lighter moments of the trip – and emphasised the hospitality of our hosts.  Plans are already afoot for a further visit next year!

Please feel free to speak to any of the team for more information or questions.

Team Uganda: Luke Addison, Nick Bell, Deborah Macartney, Gill and Paul Russell,  Kordo, Naz and Zephan Saeed.

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