Gravity Flow Water system
We were very pleased to visit a GRAVITY FLOW WATER SYSTEM which has been installed by the government in the Simu district. Although the rainwater tanks that we have supplied have been a great blessing, they are obviously only useful in the rainy season and so we were delighted to learn that the government has constructed a huge tank high up in the hills above this area and laid pipe work from the tank down to the road. People are then able to pay to connect to this system and run a pipe from the road to a standpipe next to their homes giving them access to clean water all year round. Unfortunately, the cost of the pipework is still prohibitive for some families, particularly those who live further away from the road. We were taken to visit Moses who has connected his home to this system and has even bought an additional tank which he has connected to the water tank funded by UCUK, and he allows members of the community to come and use this tank for free which is a real blessing to this community.
We are helping Benon achieve his dream
During our visit in January we met an incredibly humble and inspirational person called Benon. Despite being blind since the age of 2, Benon’s dream was to become a teacher so that other blind children can be inspired and encouraged to go on and achieve their dreams. He is a very well educated and dignified man with a wife and 3 young children and had already completed the first year of a degree but had to pull out due to lack of funding and he told us he ‘was beyond happy’ when we agreed to sponsor him through the remainder of his course! With the help of Esther, UWCM’s Programmes Officer, Benon was able organise all the necessary paperwork, accommodation etc to enrol at Makerere University and Esther also bought him new clothes, shoes, personal items etc so that by the time we left Uganda, Benon had already joined the course. This is a 3 year course and we are confident that Benon will work hard and achieve his dream.
Sewing machines continue to be in high demand!
Some members of our group took out suitcases full of material, sewing threads & machine parts, scissors, needles, poppers and other pieces of useful equipment and we visited 2 groups to distribute these and to teach their members how to make the pads. We had recently provided both groups with sewing machines and the women were very excited to receive their training. As you can see from the photos, the place was soon a hive of activity with templates being cut out and the women being shown how to put all the pieces together. We were with Kibanda Women’s Group for a few hours in the morning and they provided us with a veritable feast at lunchtime and, as always, there was a lot of singing and dancing – see video below of their ‘leaving song’.
The second group we visited was Bududa Nakatsi Landslide group of teenage mothers. The numbers in this group has been increasing, partly due to the effect of the pandemic when lots of teenage girls got pregnant and dropped out of school. The lady who runs the group is a skilled seamstress herself and the girls go through a complete tailoring course – starting with paper patterns – and on completion of the course they will hopefully be able to get a job or set up their own business. Again, the girls were very keen to learn this new skill and we spent a very happy couple of hours with them.
Penny showing members of Kibanda Women’s Group how to use the tools and insert fasteners. The rest of the team are busy cutting out the templates ready for the women to sew.
LWANGOLI PRAYER & PORRIDGE project continues to have a positive impact on the lives
of the children, families and community as a whole. We had a wonderful time during our visit in January helping to serve the porridge, listening to the different groups singing and performing drama sketches and reciting Bible memory verses. The children’s parents and carers were also there to watch their children with pride and it was very evident that this is a hugely effective project. The children’s confidence and self-esteem has increased and teachers and parents confirm that their behaviour has improved. There is also a real sense of belonging – one young boy told us that before joining Lwangoli P&P he had no friends, but now he has many. We were also able to spend time playing with the children who were VERY excited when they saw our footballs, skipping ropes, netballs, frisbees, tennis balls and we also introduced them to ‘egg & spoon races’!
We hope you enjoy the videos below of the younger children singing their welcome song and the older group thanking Uganda Women Concern Ministry (“Women Concern”) for their support.
It costs approximately £1 per child per month to support each of our two Prayer & Porridge Projects and there is a waiting list for both. If you would like to support these projects on a regular basis please see our giving page for our bank details.
News of January 2023 trip to Uganda
Last month, Trustees Bridget, Steve and Terry, together with UCUK supporters Barbara, Penny, Janelle, Pete, Mark and Charlie spent a busy and fulfilling couple of weeks visiting some of the individuals, families and projects supported by UCUK. We had a wonderful time meeting the staff of UWCM again – most of us for the first time since Covid – and, as always, we came back encouraged and amazed by the huge difference such a small team of (9) staff are making in people’s lives in this region of Uganda.
We spent a lovely afternoon at Lwangoli Prayer & Porridge listening to the children and young people sing, perform drama and recite Bible memory verses and it was wonderful to witness their increased confidence and sense of belonging from being a part of this very effective project. We also enjoyed helping serve over 100 cups of porridge and to see the younger children enjoy this weekly, nutritious treat.
We visited a Women’s Group in Kibanda community and a Teenage Parent group in Bududa where members of our team taught them how to make re-usable sanitary pads and supplied them with lots of materials, scissors etc. The women and girls were very keen to learn as they will then be able to supply pads to girls and women within their communities and schools which is life changing for some who would otherwise not be able to go to school during their period. There was always plenty of singing and laughing at these sessions and we were also very well fed with matoke, rice, beans, chapatis, chicken, peanuts etc!
We were also able to get our hands and feet dirty and help with some ‘mudding’ of a traditionally built shelter which the local community in Bududa were building for a family whose home had been washed away in the recent floods and landslides. The family have 7 young children and had been given a small plot of land on which to build a new shelter. The community donated the wooden poles for the frame and we provided the funding for the iron sheet roofing, window and door frames, nail & tools. Once the shelter is complete and dried out, UWCM will provide mattresses and household cooking items for the family and, possibly, a goat to start them off with an IGA. Fortunately, we were able to wash our hands/feet before leaving as we were then off to attend a wedding!
During our visit we also met with members of a cluster group to hear more about their revolving fund for rainwater harvesting water tanks and visited a community where a gravity flow system had been installed; met many of the children and young people we are sponsoring through school; spent time at the children’s and parents conferences; visited families in their homes – some of whom we have known for years and it was very encouraging in some cases to see how well they were doing but for others it was heartbreaking to hear some of the challenges they continue to face. We were able to assess the state of UWCM’s Landcruiser and discuss various options with Tom (Driver) and staff. All 4 of the tyres had to be replaced during our visit. More photos and news of some of these topics will be included at a later date and also in our Spring newsletter.
LANDSLIDES & FLOODS HIT MBALE, SEBEI/KAPCHORWA REGION
Sadly, yet again, heavy rain triggered flooding and landslides last month in the Mbale region with homes, vehicles, crops and bridges being washed away and at least 29 people reported to have died and hundreds of families displaced and properties destroyed. It wasn’t just rural areas which were affected, the floods submerged the main roads in/out of Mbale and the petrol station where Tom, UWCM’s driver, normally gets the fuel was completely washed away and one of the pump attendants sadly died whilst trying to rescue others. University buildings and hotels in the centre of Mbale were also flooded and vehicles washed away.
The Uganda government have been setting up temporary camps to re-settle those whose homes were washed away and also distributing food parcels but the process is slow. UWCM have been able to support 22 families by providing them with food, soaps, clothes etc
Why a 4 wheel drive vehicle is essential for UWCM’s ministry to continue
UWCM’s mandate is: to serve the poorest people in the hard to reach communities and areas or places. We work in the Elgon Zone/region which has seven districts namely; Mbale, Sironko, Manafwa, Bududa, Bulambuli, Namisindwa, and Kapchorwa. Some of these areas are deep in the mountains where most of the other partners cannot go or reach because of the terrain and bad road conditions.
As such, UWCM are dependent upon having a reliable 4-wheel drive vehicle to cope with the terrain, particularly during the rainy seasons. They are still using the Toyota Land Cruiser, which is 24 years old and donated second hand in November 2012 by Tearfund and Stromme Foundation but it is becoming more and more costly to maintain and repair/replace parts. The team that went out in June of this year experienced first hand how challenging the roads can be and one trip had to be cancelled as the roads were impassable. Without a suitable 4-wheel drive vehicle, UWCM will be unable to continue their ministry and so we are trying to secure funding to keep their current vehicle on the road whilst investigating the possibility of providing a replacement vehicle.
Greetings from Uganda!
Two of our Trustees, Bridget and Steve Withell, plus another supporter, Pete O’Keefe, are currently in Uganda meeting with the staff of UWCM and monitoring some of the projects we support. They have been greatly encouraged by the dedication and commitment of the staff and the progress and sustainability of many of the projects. They visited Simu Women’s Group who are still making the reusable sanitary pads and distributing them to school girls.
Pete led training sessions with UWCM and local business leaders to help them raise income locally to increase their self-sustainability. He also encouraged local business owners to work together in trust, honesty and transparency.
More news to follow when they return!
Lwangoli Prayer & Porridge
This project continues to thrive and is making a real difference in the lives of so many vulnerable children in the Lwangoli community. UWCM have held meetings with church leadership to encourage them to contribute towards the development of the project and to secure it’s sustainability and as a result the church has agreed to have monthly collections for the children later in the year when the community members have harvested their crops. The children are also taking an active part in the services and the leaders thanked UWCM for their support and training.
This quarter UWCM were able to distribute 600 exercise books plus pens and pencils and pens for Primary and Secondary children and contribute towards the school fees for 9 primary age children. They also bought 100kg of maize flour and 50kg sugar for the weekly bowl of porridge which is always enjoyed! On club days, UWCM and the centre guides hold class sessions covering different age-related topics plus Bible study, games and sports. During lockdown they held smaller craft sessions and one young man, Brian, was very proud of the fact that he had made a pillow case last year and then recently made it into a bag to carry his books.