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Service Programs

Europeans Support Educational Projects in Uganda

Kampala, Uganda - During an interfaith trip to Ethiopia, Zambia, Malawi, and Uganda from June 29 to July 19, a European delegation representing UPF and the International Relief Friendship Foundation (IRFF) in Europe visited schools they support in Kampala and rural areas of Uganda.

Team members included Robert Williamson, UPF-Balkans; Ashley Crosthwaite, IRFF-UK; Aftikhar Ahmed, Ambassador for Peace, UPF-Scotland; and Patrick Crosthwaite, UPF-UK youth leader.

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On a visit to the Destiny Junior School in Kibiri, they were warmly welcomed by the headmistress, Mrs. Jesca Kyaligamba, who showed them around the school. Since 2008, IRFF-UK has been building and developing a school for underprivileged children in this village between Kampala and Entebbe to the south, near Lake Victoria. Four classrooms, a school office, and a kitchen have been built. All the classrooms now have floors, thanks to Aftikhar Ahmed’s generous donation. Most of the children now have benches on which to sit, except the nursery students, who are still on the floor. There are currently seven staff members and 85 children attending the school; more than half the students are orphans and seven are HIV+.

The Europeans visited each classroom, listened to students sing and recite poems, and engaged in question-and-answer sessions. In addition they visited the kitchen and office, where they received a progress report from the Headmistress.

IRFF has installed an 8000-liter fresh water tank and is digging a bore hole which will provide fresh water for the whole village. Although it was thought that the water table would be reached at around 40-50 feet, drillers hit a layer of rock covering the water table at 70 feet. Nevertheless, despite setbacks including bouts of malaria, drilling is expected to finish in mid-July. Fortunately there has been plenty of rain, so the current water tank has been able to supply sufficient water for all the school’s needs.

A few years ago Simeon and Jesca Kyaligamba started bringing orphaned and impoverished children into their home to teach them and care for them. By the time Ashley Crosthwaite met them in 2008 while doing other community projects in the area, around 60 children were coming to their home every day. There were too many people for for their small home, and they were having trouble even feeding them something simple like matoke (steamed green bananas or plantains, a national dish of Uganda) once a day. Robert Mwogeza and Ashley Crosthwaite felt compelled to help. They have been working together on this project for the past four years.

The delegation presented gifts for the school, including books to begin a school library, medicines, educational materials, and a first aid box. Donations were also delivered for the sponsored students and teachers. The Headmistress again expressed deep gratitude for the support and emphasized that it is saving lives, allowing the children to be fed and the teachers to be compensated. The school has been receiving £300 per month. There is still a lot of work to be done to find further sponsorships. In turn, the delegation thanked all the teachers and the director of IRFF-Uganda, Mr. Robert Mwogeza, for helping the children.

The European delegation visited three other projects, including a Muslim orphanage in Kampala which houses 25 children, many of them who had been discarded as babies in rubbish areas and were brought to the orphanage by the police. They now have a full school and are brought up in the Islamic faith. The orphanage has a classroom block and a small mosque with a resident imam.

 

Another project supported by IRFF-UK is in a community center on the ouskirts of Kampala. A sewing room has been built where people in the area can learn basic sewing skills and establish micro-businesses.

 

The delegation visited a rural school near Jinja, which is east of Kampala, on the shore of Lake Victoria near the origin of the White Nile River. The school is helping impoverished children in the area receive an education. A WAIT team of European youth on a two-week trip through Uganda and Zambia spent time with the students. WAIT is an HIV/AIDS awareness and peer education project in which team members seek to be role-models for young people. They use theatre, dancing, break-dance, music, and public speaking to teach other youth responsibility for themselves and others in relationships. The visiting youth also treated children who had been infected with jiggers (chigoe fleas, a common parasite in tropical and sub-tropical climates that burrows into people's feet) and gave new sandals to students who were without shoes. The following day a report of the school visit was given to the local Ministry of Education officials, who thanked the team for their efforts and visit.

 

The tour concluded with a visit to the origin of the White Nile River to pray for world peace. It was a fitting place for reflection and a site where Mahatma Gandhi's ashes had been scattered. Representatives of different faiths poured water from individual containers into a common vessel, symbolizing their joint commitment as people of faith; this water was then poured into the river.

 

This was the third European UPF interfaith tour in Africa, and a new record was set in the total value ($11,000) of donations and equipment distributed to charities in Ethiopia, Zambia, Malawi, and Uganda. Donors included the Muslim community of Scotland, IRFF-Sweden, IRFF-UK, UPF-Europe, and "Eyes of Africa" in California, USA. Individual donors included Mr. Aftikhar Ahmed, Mrs. Catriona Valenta, and Mr. Oliver Lane. The delegation was honored to be a support to the local African UPF chapters. Anyone interested in joining the 2013 tour may contact Mr. Aftikhar Ahmed and Mr. Robert Williamson by clicking This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

NOTE: Uganda takes its name from the Buganda Kingdom, which encompasses a large portion of the south of the country, including the capital, Kampala. The people of Uganda were hunter-gatherers until 1,700 to 2,300 years ago, when Bantu-speaking people migrated to the southern parts of the country. Uganda gained independence from Britain on October 9, 1962.

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