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Update on the Ugandan Orphanage at Kagadi in West Uganda

Update on the Ugandan Orphanage at Kagadi in West Uganda

Paul Church described the visit the he and Lynda made, between the 14th and 18th September 2014, to the Orphanage run by Father Charles Kakooza and the adjacent junior and senior schools, for which he is the Chaplain, in the small town of Kagadi in the far west of Uganda; quite close to the border with the Congo. First he described their itinerary, which was to travel by air to Entebbe and transfer to the hotel in Kampala on 14th then meet with Father Charles and buy educational materials on 15th. On 16th they travelled by car to Kagadi, a journey of 300 Km taking 4.5 hours. On arrival in Kagadi they visited first the orphanage and looked at the projects that the club has supported over the past 3 years,  then the junior school where they presented a selection of educational materials. They then made a short visit to the senior school which they presented with 2 computers. They spent the night in the hotel in Kagadi then returned to Kampala the next day.
Paul and Lynda had also planned to visit the town of Nabugabo which is about 140 Km south of Kampala, near to Lake Victoria. Here the club has helped to finance the building of a new school and is presently financing the schooling of 10 orphan children. This visit was aborted because the heavy rains of the previous few days would have made it difficult to get there and then back to the airport at Entebbe in time for their flight home. They returned to London on the overnight flight arriving at 7 am on 19th September.

Presentation made by Paul and Lynda Church on 25th September 2014:-

It was a very welcoming country where everyone we met was extremely friendly. It is very green with a wide variety of agriculture. Kampala is a modern African city with a number of comfortable hotels up to international standards, with comfortable rooms and very good service. Kampala, and indeed the whole country, gives the appearance of being very clean, no ugly refuse dumps, lots of street cleaning etc.( but mad driving).
Security is very high: there was a terrorist attack in 2010 which killed 80 and on the day of our arrival 19 Al Shabab guerrillas were arrested in Kampala with suicide vests and bomb making equipment. There is airport type security at entrance to all major hotels, shopping malls and government buildings.

However Uganda is very poor, it is the 21st in the list of the worlds poorest countries with GDP $1227 pp. Outside of Kampala most people are barely living at subsistence level.
The country was devastated by HIV/AIDS and, after a while, you notice that there far fewer people in the 35-45 age group than in other age groups. Antiretroviral drugs are now available and there is a programme to distribute condoms. The level of new cases is now falling away but the country will have to deal with the effects for many years to come. There are a huge number of AIDS orphans.
There is a decent network of major roads, linking the main towns, which are tarmacked and generally in good condition. However, most other roads are dirt roads that are uneven and can be impassable in the rainy season. Of the trip to Kagadi, 2 hours were on the main road and the next 2.5 hours were on a very rough and bumpy earth road.

It rained on the night we were there and getting out was difficult. At one stage we came to a hill where more than 10 buses and lorries were stuck in the mud and we could not get past. It took more than 100 men from the local village to unload lorries and push and shove them up the hill, churning up the mud. We were in a large Landcruiser with a very powerful engine, otherwise I do not think we would have made it without a lot of help. (rains came a little early this year, we advise anyone to visit in late June, July or August.).      
The currency is the Uganda Shilling  ( £1= Schillings 4000  or $1 = Schillings 2500.)

As a result of international aid, mobile phone coverage and internet is available throughout much of Uganda and is now bypassing traditional methods of doing business. Most small money transfers are now sent through a mobile phone app. There are shops where money transfers can be made by mobile phone in most towns and some villages.

Kagadi is the local town of the area. It has small stores, banks and even a hotel, where we stayed, which was 
very clean.
Water is a problem, in the dry season it has to be pumped by hand from deep boreholes, in the rainy
season it is collected from roofs into water tanks. There is only limited electricity.

Most building materials are local. Bricks are simply made by digging up the red clay, forming this into bricks and drying them in the sun. They then build a “beehive of bricks” and light a fire in the middle to bake the bricks.
Every village 
seems to have at least one brick micro-factory!  
Trees are plentiful and wood, after being cut and dried, is shaped by hand using a  machete .                              
We make the point that the building projects that we have funded, or may fund in the future, do more than just help the  children; they do provide local employment and put money into the local economy.
Buildings are basic with cement floors, block or brick walls, corrugated roofs, metal shutters rather than glass in windows.

                THE KAGADI PROJECT.
The Project is centred on Father Charles’ existing Church. He has started to build a new one as the present church is too small, but he can get no money from the diocese so building work is on hold unless he can get money from Rome. The orphanage and junior school are adjacent to the church and the senior school is a short walk from it. The 60 children who live in the orphanage attend these 2 schools.

Although the orphanage is on land belonging to the church, no money comes from the diocese. Funding is mostly from 3 overseas sources;
1. The Parish of Chelmsford, England; for many years Father Charles has been going to England for 4/6 weeks as a locum priest.
They will usually have a collection for him to raise money for capital projects at the orphanage or junior school. This year they raised about £2000. In addition, several of the parishioners privately support orphans.

2. Germany; A parish near Frankfurt sends volunteers to work at the orphanage and they also provide money to pay for the orphanage running costs. They do not pay for capital  projects.

3. Rotary Club Marbella-Guadalmina; We mainly support specific capital projects although, in addition, some of our members privately send money to support the orphanage.

Parents who can afford it are expected to pay fees for their children to attend the primary school, if they cannot afford it they are expected to provide voluntary labour on building projects.
A qualified teacher in a Government school in Uganda will earn between $1000 and $1500 per annum,

The Orphanage is south of the church and is completely separate, with its own fence and gates etc. It consists of 4 blocks plus a latrine and washing facilities. It houses approximately 60 orphans.                                                       

-The four buildings are:- an Admin block with a small area for kids to play: 
- a Boys' dormitory with 3 rooms, each sleeping about 10 in bunk beds.
- a Girls' dormitory again with 3 rooms, each sleeping about 10  in bunk beds.(pictured above)
- The new dining hall with kitchen and office.(pictured below)
The Dining Hall         
The new dining hall, which our club helped to  fund, is built on a cement plinth, with brick walls and a pitched corrugated roof on wooden beams. There is a cement floor, plastered walls and there are desks where children can eat or assemble. Rainwater is collected off the roof into a storage tank with an electric motor to pump water up to the gravity feed tank above.  The hall is bigger than we imagined, about 1200 sq ft or 120 sq m and we feel that our Club got a lot of value for its money.All of the children that we saw were clean, happy and appeared well nourished. Father Charles seems to have a bond with them, nearly all ran up to him as he arrived and he has a habit of giving each an affectionate pat on the head.
The orphanage stands in several acres of land much of which is given over to food production; plantain, pumpkins, cassava, beans and even coffee. They have 2 cows which provide daily milk for the children and they raise pigs, goats and chickens.

The primary school is also south of the church and again separate, with its own entrance. By the entrance there is the borehole which provides much of the water for the Project during the dry season. It consists of a strip of block-built classrooms with the headmasters office and stores in the middle. There were over 200 pupils on the day that we were there with 12 staff. It is overcrowded. There are no staffrooms. Staff were sitting on the grass sorting papers when we arrived. We saw the stationery store, which was basically bare, and we briefly attended a physics lesson.
There seem to no teaching aids that would normally be found in a physics class whilst several children had to share a single text book. However the teachers seem dedicated and our delivery of $200 of educational supplies, that we had bought in Kampala, appeared to be very welcome. There are no computers.
Library - To the east, behind the classrooms, is the new and unfinished library. Chelmsford sent £2000 a few months ago and this has enabled the commencement of construction of the library (!)It is a shell, between 100 and 110 m2 with brick walls and a pitched roof.                                                       
It will be used as additional teaching space, and a library for the few books that they have, as well as a quiet space where pupils can work and teachers can do their marking.
Father Charles has, basically, used up all of the £2000 from Chelmsford. To finish he needs;

- To form a cement floor,
- Plaster all the internal walls.
- Provide doors and windows
- Install electricity.
- Fit it out with shelves and desks.

He estimates they need another £2000 to finish but he will send more figures to us later. In our opinion, this would be a very valuable contribution to the school. Whilst there, we made a contribution towards  more books and educational supplies.

We did not give our computers to this school. Father Charles felt that the senior school, for which he is also the Chaplain, had a greater need. In our opinion this junior school does need at least 2 computers to use both as a teaching aid and to help the children become familiar with ICT.

Father Charles has other capital projects in mind for the school namely:-

-A boarding house for up to 60 children - apparently many walk for up to 2 hours each way to get to school and cannot come in the rainy season. He would like to have boarding facilities for these children.

-He would also like to build up to 6 staff apartments (each of 2 rooms). If he has the boarding house he will need staff on site and some of the staff also have a problem getting to work in the rainy season.

The Senior School is a government school to the north of the church. It has 21 teachers and 1000 pupils and is mainly a strip block of classrooms with admin blocks at either end. They did have a single desk-top computer for senior staff to use.  Whilst the government pays the running costs, it is very basic and there is no money for any capital projects, teaching aids etc. Father Charles is very anxious that both the primary and senior schools should be better equipped.
Father Charles is also the chaplain to this school, and seems involved in its management.

We initially presented the 2 lap-top computers to the staff at a little ceremony in their tiny, bare staff room but they decided that it was so special that the presentation should be before the entire school. Thus all 1000 children were assembled on the grass in front of the classrooms and we made a second presentation. There was huge excitement when the children were told that they would all get a chance,, at some stage, to use the computers. It was quite emotional to realise how such a comparatively small gift can have the potential to change so many lives.

We feel that they need a proper computer room with perhaps 10 more computers at the very least, this may be a project we want to do with other clubs.


-Needs are immense.
-Comparatively small amounts of money can make a big difference.
-We have got a lot of value for the amounts already sent.
-Any construction projects help the whole community.
-Provision of computers can be life changing for many of the kids. With computers skills they can get jobs that would otherwise be denied to them.
-There is urgency here, every year that we delay another 200 kids miss the opportunity to learn ICT skills.


We recommend that we provide Euros 3000-4000, when we have detailed costings, to finish off the Library and provide 2 computers for the primary school.
We also recommend that we work with another international club and a local Ugandan club to look at providing a secure computer room and up to 10 computers for the Senior School.

                                        20th September 2014.