February 2020: New College Established and Registered!!!
We are so pleased to announce that we have achieved a key objective for 2020 - the setting up of a college which would be registered with the Ugandan Education Authority. Courses are being run in ICT, Catering and Construction. Already, two classes are running in each area of ICT and Catering - 4 classes! with one class of students, from each area of training, being prepared for national exams. The others, along with the construction students, will be given a similar level of training and then be internally examined.
One of Serve Africa’s primary objectives is to help the refugees we support break out of the ‘poverty trap’. We are committed to get as many young people as possible educated and trained with skills that will enable them to find gainful employment. Our desire has been for individuals to earn enough money to enable them to stand on their own two feet and hopefully also give some help to others in the camps.
Over the years a number of training options have been pursued. The ones that have proved successful, on a significant scale, are construction and information technology. Other areas of training in teaching, nursing, car mechanics and metal fabrication are also being undertaken, although fewer numbers of students are involved. In 2019 we also set up a catering training facility, in which we trained 15 students.
Now we are running as a registered college we are starting to recruit fee paying students. Our hope is that, in the future, sufficient money will be obtained from the students to enable the college to meet its day to day costs and enable Serve Africa to place funds raised into other areas of development.
Christmas Appeal 2019
Serve Africa had a Christmas Appeal to raise money for clothes and shoes, for the 400 younger children that live in the camps we support. For many these are the first new items they have received for over eighteen months. The photos show some of the children with the things we were able to buy and distribute. A big thank you to all who contributed!!
February 2019: Catering Course
Due to the generosity primarily of one couple we have just completed the building of a new training facility to enable us to run courses in catering. The first group of 10 students started their training in cooking and food hygiene on February 25th 2019.
Our intention is for the catering course, along with those in Information Technology and Construction, to become registered with the Ugandan Ministry of Education. This is the start of formally becoming a vocational college which can award recognised qualifications and enable us to recruit fee paying students. The objective is to make each course self-funding. In turn this will enable us to consider further course options in future years and put our supporters funds to other uses, such as increasing the number of students we can send to secondary school each year.
Replacing kerosene lamps with solar lights
Up until this year everyone at both camps, Kivuvuu and Bukunya, have relied solely upon kerosene to give lighting. This has been in the houses and latrines, and for any other night time activity. Following the charity becoming aware of a low cost solar lighting option developed by the UK charity, Solar Aid, we have undertaken on site trials during 2018. This proved successful and the feedback from the camps was that they would like us to undertake a programme of installing solar lighting in the primary school, homes and latrines.
We have now purchased enough lighting to install in around 50% of the houses, as well as the school and latrines. Hopefully all the lights should be installed and working by the end of March 2019.
We have agreed with the residents that they would make a contribution for the solar lights. The approach has been to get them to pay the equivalent of what they would pay for kerosene over a forty week period. This should enable us to get back about 25% of the overall cost.
We have taken on an intern, Christine, to manage collecting the money and maintaining the accounts records. Hopefully in the future we can fund her to undertake some formal training in the financial or administration sectors.
Training in Car Mechanics and Metal Fabrication
Over the years we have explored many different types and forms of training. Some ideas that we thought might enable young people to get suitable employment proved to be not that successful. In a similar vein we have found sending students to attend college in Kampala has taught them the theory of a subject but has not given them the practical skills needed to find work.
About two and half years ago we met some local employers who agreed to train young people from the camps in car mechanics and metal fabrication. Each year we have funded two boys in each discipline. We are now just beginning a third year of this venture. The garage owner, Ibrahim, has found suitable paid employment for all those he has trained. Julius, the owner of the metal fabrication business, has similarly ensured the people he has trained can either have employment with him or set up their own business.
Winter 2017/2018: Christmas Appeal
Following Peter Scott's recent visit to review the work of the charity in Uganda we have decided to launch a Christmas appeal that will improve both the health of the people and the living conditions.
It is well known that HIV and malaria are major health problems in Africa and we have an ongoing programme to address these at the camps. The more chronic issues relate to dirty water (we have sunk a borehole and have installed rainwater capture facilities) and inhalation of smoke from lighting and cooking; this prevents proper lung development in children leading to long term illness and premature death.
The funds raised will be used to install communal kitchens (stopping people cooking in their living quarters) and replacing kerosene lamps in 200 homes with solar lighting (cost is around £25 for each dwelling), and to install solar lighting in two primary school classrooms.
If you are able to help financially please use the BT Donate facility on this web site, or send money by bank transfer to the Serve Africa account
Update on the IT course
The IT course we started this year is just about to finish. The students have worked hard and seem very e
nthusiastic. When Peter Scott, during his recent visit, saw the students he was so impressed with how positive and outgoing they were. This is a considerable change from a few years ago when many still carried the deep scars of having had to flee their homes in the North and see acts of violence and hatred towards them. This is a wonderful testament to the people working with us in Uganda who have dedicated themselves to making a real difference to the refugees.
The students have developed really good relationships with their teacher, Viola. We are also impressed with Viola's commitment to the students. Over recent months she has regularly worked in the evenings with two students, who now work during the day.
The effectiveness of the course will partly be evaluated by how many students get useful employment. What is however encouraging is that already 4 of the students have found long term IT related work, even before the course is finished.
A couple of years ago the vehicle we had became uneconomic to maintain. For the intervening period our staff have had to rely upon motorbikes (buda budas) to get to the camps and transport supplies, in particular medicines and vaccines.
This year our finances have been sufficient to enable us to purchase a second-hand seven seater vehicle. Rosette (nurse) can now easily transport all her medication, Lydia has flexibility with undertaking counselling and picking up and transporting food and other necessities. We also now have the means to take villagers to town when medical emergencies arise, including expectant mothers to clinics.
Play things, footballs and netballs
The children in the camps, until this year, have never had play equipment.
We had an appeal at Bath City Church and raised money to buy the swings and roundabout shown here. This has been a resounding success, to such an extent that we had to close the park area during school so children were attending and not just playing outside on the equipment! Recently we have purchased larger swings for the older children as they were missing out.
The boys now have new footballs and are having matches with teams in the local area. The older girls were also given netballs and skipping ropes.
Primary School interns
Two girls, Gift and Hellen, have been appointed as interns at the primary school at one of the camps (Kivuuvu). The nursery and year 1 are the largest classes at the school so the girls are supporting the teachers of these classes. Our intention, on successful completion of a year’s internship is to send them on a two year course in teacher training.
To date we have minimised capital expenditure, investing in individuals to attend external courses or getting trainers to provide practical skills that needed no formal classroom environment. This year we decided to set up our own facility to enable students to get structured IT and business administration training. We have been supported by Ludovick and Lydia’s (Co-ordinators in Uganda) church, who allowed us to upgrade one of their meeting rooms, installing power and the internet as well as enhancing the security of the building.
Viola (training professional) has been appointed and she is running a course for 10 students. They are learning to use basic software and gain skills for working in a business environment. We have purchased computers, a projector and associated software. We have also found a competent computer specialist, William, to maintain and give any necessary support to keep everything operational.
As Uganda is prone to regular power cuts we have also purchased batteries and inverters to keep the equipment working even when the power goes down.
Providing High Protein Supplements
Famine exists across much of Sub-Saharan Africa. This is having an impact in Uganda where drought is affecting food supplies and costs are rising. The little money the refugees manage to get, mainly through casual work, is not going as far as it has done in the past. There is less food to eat and we have been seeing signs of malnutrition in the younger children. We are addressing this aspect by providing high protein supplements.
We would also like to buy school uniforms as most of the children have only their normal clothes. Here is what the school uniform looks like: