Project Uganda 2018 saw 30 adults involved in Scouting in the UK travel to Uganda to a small orphanage at Lake Bunyonyi near Kabale in the south west corner of the country.
We worked in partnership with the Kerry West Orphanage Project, a UK charity working for orphans in Uganda.
The orphanage houses 65 children who live there full time but is also the school to another 30 children who live in the local village. They mostly range in age from 2-14. Some of the children are orphaned (often due to Aids) while some have parents unable to look after them. Many of the children are HIV positive. The main issues facing the orphanage are lack of food, adequate shelter, medical care, school equipment & clothes.
The head of the orphanage is Prossy. Other staff members include members of Prossy’s extended family and teachers.
Our project was to build a dormitory to replace the current situation where the children sleep 7 to a mattress – 14 to a bunk bed with 4 bunk beds in a room approx. 12 x 12 feet. That’s 56 children in a room not much bigger than most box rooms in an English house. The room has only a small window and no spare space other than to allow the door to open.
The children wash outside so there is no privacy. At present they have no belongings so personal storage has not been required but that is beginning to change with support from the UK charity
The team spent 18 months before we left the UK raising all the money required and also collected items to take with us including all the bedding, school jumpers, sports equipment, toothbrushes, cooking utensils, a football kit, books for the school, knitted hats, cuddly toys and numerous other items requested by the teachers and staff. A generous baggage allowance meant that these items plus tools and metal work for the building itself could be carried by the 30 participants – we made quite an entrance to Manchester airport with 2 large kit bags each and several odd shaped parcels!
We had paid for the foundations of the building to be built before our arrival and delivery of sand, gravel, cement, bricks and timber so day 1 on site saw bricks being laid, roof trusses being cut and assembled and concrete lintels being cast. This all took place amid very excited children, goats, chickens and piglets!!
Work continued in the same mould for 15 days – on site at 0730 and working until 1730 in hot and sunny weather. Many of the team enjoyed a cool dip in the lake after work had finished for the day. On the second Sunday we took some time off to take the children onto the field to play games with the sports equipment we had taken with us. There were squeals of delight and laughter as they saw the footballs, bats and balls and play parachute – remember these children had nothing. It wasn’t long before singing and dancing also took place then we all had a soda and it was back to work.
Luckily the team are experienced in working in developing countries having undertaken four projects in Nepal and one in Peru and this came in handy to deal with the vagrancies of life in Uganda. These included extensive power cuts which meant the metal work on the doors and windows couldn’t be completed and the timber couldn’t be sawn so deliveries were late, items confused due to language difficulties, unreliable suppliers and many more little setbacks which the team dealt with with good humour and ingenuity!
The last couple of days on site saw work pick up a pace with teams working well into the night to finish the last few jobs but finally we got there – a seven room building with four dormitories, two shower rooms with plumbed in water and a teacher’s room. Electric lights in all rooms and outside under the veranda caused more squeals of delight from both adults and children! There are a couple of finishing jobs to do such as painting the walls but we have left money with the orphanage to get that completed and the bunk beds are ordered, built and awaiting delivery. The last job was to hang two swing seats that we had taken with us for the children to play on to yet more laughter.
On the last morning before we left we gave all the presents we had taken for the children and the school and said our fond farewells. There were also affectionate goodbyes to the staff who had worked alongside us throughout the project and who work so hard looking after the children with so few resources.
All this couldn’t have been achieved without the support we had for our fundraising events and the generous donations from companies, trusts and individuals. The whole team would like to say a massive Thank You for that support, it contributed immensely to make a huge improvement in living conditions for the children at the Kerry West Orphanage.
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