REPORT ON STUDY VISIT - JANUARY 2007
In January 2007 Eric and Marie Goulding and Marion Stagg set off once again to visit our schools, Bukeka and Kavule. Our aim was once again to see our friends and colleagues in Uganda but also to see what sort of progress both schools had made since completing our projects in the summer of 2006. We arrived at Bukeka School on 31st January and although in one respect it was disappointing not to see the children because they were still on their Christmas holidays, on the other hand it proved beneficial because we were able to spend some uninterrupted time with Livingstone Mpagi, the Director of the school, and Gertrude, the Head Teacher.
The school was looking great. The desks and benches we had ordered during 2006 were in place in each of the classrooms and the walls were decorated with educational posters and pictures. Each classroom now had a lockable cupboard, each of which was filled with more educational resources, much of which members of our team had taken in 2006. Altogether they looked well ordered, cared for and gave the impression that this school is well and truly on the up!
In addition to the interior, there were potted plants on the veranda and the fencing BBF funded was in the process of being erected. When completed this will completely enclose the school and immediate grounds and prevent trespassing from the locals during the long holiday periods when no one is around.
One of the things we particularly wanted to do was to meet some of the children personally and although they were not at school the Director had arranged for us to visit some of the children who lived nearby. The children selected are all being sponsored as requested by us. We could then feed back the information gained to their sponsors. This would help them understand more about the children they were helping and of course enjoy seeing pictures of their children which helps to put the sponsorship on a more personal level.
These visits were invaluable to us but also very emotional. We were able to see at first-hand the simple conditions these children live in and the extent of their poverty and it is at times like this you realise why there simply isn't sufficient money to finance their education. We probably saw some of the poorest people we have ever seen. They really do live from hand to mouth, largely growing their own food and selling any spare at local markets. Much of the accommodation were traditional mud huts with thatched roofs, although some lived in brick built homes with iron roofs but usually in a pretty poor state of repair.
We visited 12 homes altogether and the families were happy to be photographed with us. We asked a few simple questions about their parents, brothers and sisters etc. and about their lives generally and it was this information we could feed-back to their sponsors.
It is our hope that one day there will be regular correspondence between the children and their sponsors which hopefully will enrich the lives of both child and sponsor.
One thing that came out of the visit was the desire to build another classroom block. The Director explained that when the children reach Primary 4 they had no where to go. If another block was built and sponsorship and support continued then these children could continue their education in that location and not waste the years they spent in primary up to that stage. In the meantime the Director did ask if we would continue to sponsor the children beyond primary which would give them a chance of a better future.
Our trip to Bukeka was very worthwhile. We were able to see what a difference BBF is making to their lives and how every opportunity given will be grasped by willing hands. There was a good atmosphere here and one in which the teachers seemed happy. All we can do now is to continue with that support and hope that it enables Bukeka to flourish and provide education to children who otherwise would not receive it. It certainly gave us a feel-good factor and we hope it does the same for you when you read this.
Eric and Marie Goulding