Rakai Church of Uganda Primary school is on top of a hill with the most amazing views, but the youngsters who attend rarely have time to appreciate the view. Most are from child led families, few Primary 7 youngsters had arrived for school, they were busy digging and trying to grow crops to provide for the younger siblings in their care. It is very dry here at the moment as the rains were scarce during the wet season. Water to drink has to be fetched from the lake one mile down the steep hill so watering your crops is not really an option. Some of the classrooms are falling down and the roofs are more hole than roof, there are no windows or doors. But the teachers battle on with amazing determination to educate these children and give them a hope for the future. The children entertained us with song and dance and much shaking of hands. But this is not the community we have been helping, “why”, we asked Canon Eriab, had he chosen Kaleere for the proposed project when this school was on his doorstep?
Half an hour of hot very very dusty road (even by Uganda standards) we arrived in Kaleere where we have supported the Bagonvu Elderly Women’s Project with basic needs and provided funds to build a latrine for the school and provide education materials for some of the orphans. What, we wondered, is going on here. A crowd of people seated under a rough tarpaulin, music playing and children everywhere, is there a celebration going on? And then we realised……. they were waiting for us. We walked down the track to see the latrine we had provided funds to erect (and christened it) and then saw the classrooms, a bamboo and mud structure with a matting divide housed two classes, three other classes are held in the small church building the last is under a tree. The kitchen could hardly be called a structure at all.
We were ushered to seats of honor under the tarpaulin where we were entertained by the children with song and dance, followed by speeches from the community and church leaders. Almost the entire community had turned out to greet us and have photo’s taken with us. Their gratitude for the small amount of assistance we had provided was overwhelming. Why this community had been chosen was obvious, their situation was far worse even than Rakai. Almost all the youngsters were orphans being cared for by grandparents who had no means of providing even the basic needs for the children in their care. We visited the home of one such lady who, alongside three young orphans also cared for a 97 year old mother.
Before we left we were presented with a carved Gorilla (named Paulo!!) and a straw mat and an apology from these people who live in dire poverty that they could not give us more. It was an honour to shake hands with, and hug, these proud people who have given us so much and almost brought us to tears.
The project proposed here would initially provide garden tools, seedlings, livestock and training to 20 of the most needy families along with two shallow wells to provide water, which is currently fetched from the lake approximately 1 1/2 km away.
There is so much need and the cost to change the lives of this community is, by our standards relatively small, approx £2000.
We have such difficult decisions to make when we return home, how can we possibly choose between the many projects we have visited, and more to come. we just don’t have the funds available. What we saw today almost defies words. Please pray that we can find a way forward and that funds will be forthcoming. If you or your church or group would like to link with these communities please get in touch with us on our return. Your prayers and even the smallest of donation can be life changing.
Our planned trip to Sango Bay Refugee Camp was cancelled as due to the current unrest in the camp it was deemed to be unsafe for us to visit.