Rotarians in Kinver and Bewdley have helped transform the lives of Ugandan orphans with a £14k fundraising campaign to build a new dormitory.
Forty-eight children have moved into the environmentally-friendly dormitory in Kititi following a five-month building project run by the Planting For Hope Uganda charity led by Kate Oakley from Caunsall.
The building, attached to a school, provides safe accommodation for students who live with an impoverished grandparent or guardian and are forced to walk six miles a day through inhospitable bush.
The project will ensure the girls’ safety as well as enable them to have a full -time education, improve their health by providing safe water and two meals a day. The 2-3 hours of their time spent walking to and from school is now more profitably used doing homework, catching up with missed education and taking part in sports and spent with friends. A house mother is also on hand to provide for the girls’ pastoral care needs.
The students’ proximity to the adjoining Cornerstone School also enables them to benefit from extra evening tuition from live-in teachers.
PfHU Founder Kate Oakley said: “The girls are loving living in the dormitory. They feel really safe because they don’t have the daily trek to and from school through bush and scrubland, along rough tracks. In the rainy season this journey is impossible so they miss several weeks of schooling which they hate.
“It’s the first time any of them have slept in a proper bed with a mattress, pillow, sheets and blanket and not had to share a sleeping space on the floor with siblings
“They have more time to relax with friends. Chores are fewer and shared and they do not have to walk several miles to and from school each day. Clean water is at hand and it is safe to drink straight from the water tank. They also have electricity so they can see to do homework.”
Retired teacher Kate helped establish the PfHU with a young Ugandan graduate Apollo Saku in 2012 while volunteering and fundraising for another bush village in Uganda following the death of her husband.
Since then continued sponsorship has funded the building, equipping and staffing of Cornerstone School – the only school in the region that offers free places to children from destitute families.
Fundraising is still going on to provide further shower facilities at the dormitory as well as more furniture to help with homework and school improvements such as library.
Fundraising coffers have also been used to buy land for commercial crops and build a mission house to accommodate volunteers as well as teach women new skills to enable them to earn money and become more self-sufficient.
Kate, who in 2021 was awarded the Rotary Community Champion Award, said: “I was very impressed with Apollo’s vision and passion for helping poor families living in the area. There were so many families going hungry and children uneducated because parents were destitute, that we decided we would work together to see what we could do to help them change this situation. We chose the village of Kititi because families were mainly headed by women, many widowed because of Aids.
“The women formed a cooperative, we bought land and Apollo taught them sustainable farming so that they could grow and share food to feed their families.”
The twice-yearly rainy season followed by drought, hunger, unclean water, difficult terrain and lack of shoes, are all causes for poor health and attendance and educational underperformance in rural bush villages in South West Uganda.
An uneducated girl child is statistically more likely to become pregnant in teenage years, which leads to increasing poverty for themselves and their families.
Ian Maddock, Chair of Kinver Rotary Club International Committee, said: “As a former headteacher I believe that we owe it to children, wherever in the world they may be, to educate them. It is a path out of poverty, can enhance their self-respect and enables them both to be self-sufficient and to contribute to their society.
“This project will provide this opportunity for countless children over the coming years.”
Kate added: “Kinver and Bewdley Rotary Clubs, together with District, have supported PfHU from the beginning. Two members of Bewdley Rotary have been out to visit the project in the bush village of Kititi on several occasions.
“I cannot thank Heart of England Rotary enough for the support they have given us. We would certainly not have this new dormitory without their help. Other projects they have funded include purchase of land to enable the women to grow food to feed their families, a borehole for clean water, water harvesting, solar panels, desks and bunk beds, sewing machines, showers and latrines.
“We could not have achieved so much in the time without the tremendous support of Heart of England Rotary. We have achieved far more than we thought possible, in a relatively short time, because of that support.”
Donations to the Rotary’s PfHU fundraising can be made at here
Further information about Planting for Hope Uganda is available here
Kate, who is also is available for talks, can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Covid situation in Uganda remains precarious. Around 1% of the population has been fully vaccinated. Lockdown, whilst successful in limiting the spread of the virus, has had tragic consequences. Loss of jobs and restricted movement of farm produce has led to hunger and to men abandoning their families and families abandoning their children leaving relatives, who themselves are in poverty, to care for them.
Cornerstone was among the top best performing schools in the Primary Leaving Examinations. All 31 students who sat them passed, with over 90% achieving a first or second grading.
Bisi’s Story: A Case Study
Bisi is a clever girl who wants to one day become a nurse. A very different prospect to the one she had three years ago. . .
Seven-year-old Bisi was at home with her older sister Joanne and little brother Edward. Three older brothers were at secondary school and their mom was a subsistence farmer, leaving early every morning to go to their small piece of land to dig.
Their father had died before Edward was born and their mom was forced to sell most of their land to pay for the older boys’ education.
It was arranged that Bisi and Joanne would come to Cornerstone School, also part of PfHU, and the only school in the region giving free school places to orphaned and destitute children.
They were excited and happy, loved their school uniforms and daily porridge and also their books, pencils and lessons.
Sadly, as soon as the rainy season started they rarely turned up. It was just impossible for them to walk over six miles a day through rough country tracks and thick mud so they missed months of their longed-for education.
The situation was changed when two of the Co-operative women took them into their homes and fostered them, but it put real pressure on the women’s already crushing poverty. With the help of PfHU the families and the girls managed- and were among the first to move into the new dormitory.
The dormitory will help hundreds of others to have this chance in the future.