Reflections on 2020
2020 is a year that will be etched in our memories for all the wrong reasons. COVID-19 has been a scourge that we’re all sick of, and we’re collectively yearning for the day that we can consign it to the history books. That day will undoubtedly arrive, but for now, we have to stay as positive as we can and try and adapt to life in and out of lockdown as best we can.
It’s been a tough year for me personally, too, but I was thrilled to spend six months of it in Uganda. In spite of cuts in funding, lockdowns, and a whole host of other challenges, we’re absolutely thrilled with the outcomes we’ve achieved with our Ugandan team. In this post, I want to share some of the highlights with you, while thanking you for contributing to our success this year.
Food Distribution Project
In April and at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we partnered with the government of Uganda and identified 190 families in the village of Kihembe who would each receive 10kgs of maize flour (for posho), 5kgs of beans, 1kg of salt and 1 bar of soap. Although this project isn’t something we would normally support, we fundraised specifically for it and gave donors the option to contribute £10, which would support a family for a week. We were overwhelmed when we raised over £800 to support this project, and the families were delighted with the food that they received.
New Kitchen at Kishunju PS
At the start of the government lockdown, we put together a budget to construct a new kitchen at Kishunju PS. This was because the previous kitchen was dilapidated and close to falling down. Our team used bricks and timber to try and make a more permanent structure. Although our work was slightly disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak, we’re delighted to say that the structure was finished, and once schools are permitted to reopen, the kitchen block will be put to good use. We were able to recycle the doors and the iron sheets for the roof from the previous structure, which allowed us to complete the project in a cost effective and timely manner.
New Science Lab at Kihembe Vocational Secondary School
Perhaps our most significant achievement of 2020 was completing construction of the new science lab at Kihembe Vocational Secondary School. As it turned out, building the lab was the easy part. In order to understand what a school science lab looks like in Uganda, we visited a number of schools in Kanungu to get some inspiration. Working with local carpenters and guided by the science teachers at the school, we created a plan for the interior of the lab, which included a storage room at the back, desks and stools, as well as electricity and a sink with running water.
As a result of the work carried out in the Spring and Summer of 2020, the new science lab at the school is fully equipped with desks, equipment, a water source, and electricity. This is a remarkable feat and something that the whole team is understandably very proud of.
Improved Coffee Plantation
This summer, we struck up partnerships with Kigezi Coffee Development Academy and Kingha Coffee, both pioneering organizations working locally to improve the quality of coffee grown in Kanungu district. Our relationship with Kingha, and Andre in particular, has been truly educational. Andre visited our plantation last month and offered some feedback and instruction on how to improve our growing practice organically.
Working with Bright, he first instructed us to start ‘gap-filling’ – the simple act of replacing dead coffee trees with new seeds. He also told us about the process of ‘mulching,’ explaining that we can organically improve the soil’s quality around our coffee trees by utilizing debris from our vegetable plantation. Moreover, because the effects of climate change negatively impact Kihembe and droughts can happen, he showed us how to dig trenches around our plants to retain water during dry seasons.
We hope that our coffee in Kihembe will be utilised as a source of income generation for our projects in 2021.
New Classroom Block at Kihembe Vocational Secondary School
After the success of the science lab, we were thrilled to start construction on a new classroom block at the secondary school site. Eventually this classroom will serve as a computer lab and library, and we hope it will be operational by the summer of 2021. We have exciting plans in place to donate books and laptops to the school now that solar is available, and thanks to many generous donations over the festive period, we’re a step closer to making this a reality.
Workshop for Girls
In partnership with Girl Power Foundation, we launched a series of educational workshops in the summer of 2021, aimed at encouraging girls to stay in school. These workshops were a timely intervention, as COVID-19 caused schools to close in Uganda and many girls dropped out for various reasons. The Girl Power team, alongside our project managers, delivered workshops that encouraged girls to stay in school and avoid risky behaviours at home.
Overall, we’re delighted with the progress that we’ve made in what has been a challenging year for everyone. We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our work in 2020, and everyone who has supported us with donations.
We hope you’ve had an enjoyable festive period with your families and we are looking forward to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in 2021.