It is incredible how fast time passes. It is already 10 years since the official founding of Les Amis d’Ouganda (and 11 years since we first started our work).
We can be truly proud of how much our small charity has achieved in that short time. 2013 was itself an outstanding year; both in terms of physical achievements in Uganda itself as well as for the amount that we raised in support of our friends there.
In France, the award of a grant from the Region of Haute-Normandy has enabled us to make a start on our most ambitious project to date, the construction of a school hall at Bubebbere. When it is completed later in 2014, the positive impact on the school, on the community and for the children will be highly significant. As ever, our annual Balade Contée was an enjoyable social event as well as an important boost for our funds.
You will be tired of my repeating this, but I shall do it anyway; for us to continue to add to our value, we need others to help. This started in 2012 when some British supporters in France put on an event in our name. In 2013 such support made a great leap forward with a range of events organised by a hotel, by a school and by individuals in England and in Ireland. I cannot thank these people enough for caring as they do.
If I have to pick out one thing from all of the other positives, it has to be our partnership with Westwood Primary School in Clayton-le-Woods in Lancashire which has three times raised funds on behalf of the nursery classes at Bulumbu and Bubebbere. As “twins” with these children, the plan is that the Headmistress, the staff and the children follow and help this group of children throughout their primary school lives. Bravo and thanks.
Even though the child sponsorship scheme is time-consuming and complicated to administer, it remains at the heart of our ethos of supporting children in greatest need. Because the social, economic and healthcare base is so low in their villages, it should go without saying that educational levels are below what we desire for these children who often drop out of school for a variety of reasons, including sickness (both to children and to their guardians), for economic necessity and through the utter frustration of an inability to make educational progress. Nevertheless, despite these frustrations, progress is being made. At the most basic level, we are helping these youngsters to have a childhood; I believe that is worthwhile as a stand-alone benefit.
What has been achieved however goes beyond this. Each year, more sponsored children reach secondary school (collège) and now into the 6th Form (lycée). Where it will finally take these youngsters remains to be seen, but there is hope where previously there was none. Beyond this, the first two young women at the Nangabo Vocational College graduated and we plan to have an additional graduate from there each year. We can but hope that they will be able to help standards to be raised at Bulumbu and at Bubebbere.
I do not propose to list our achievements. This information has been well publicised in two general newsletters, in a sponsors’ update, in our Blog, on Facebook and in communications among members of our committee.
However, we are, I believe, at a crossroads. Can we continue to make significant progress? Or will things do no more than tick over? I know what I want and I believe it is what we all want. That is give all the children we support, hope for a real and successful future; and to make the twin villages self-sufficient and places which can be seen as beacons of hope for future generations. To achieve this desire, we have to find a way of spreading the workload, both in terms of organisation and in increasing our funding.
Thank you for your past support. The challenge is now to discover how we can maintain the momentum and push on to do more.
Officers and Committee 2014 : Friends of Uganda (Association loi de 1901)
Keith MILLS – President
Céline ROMANO – Treasurer
Martine FILLIAT –Secretary
Jeanette MILLS – Assistant Secretary
Martine ACOULON – Blogmaster
Olivier CAMUS, Hélène CARRE, Jacques CARRE, Philippe CAVILLON, Marc FILLIAT, Andrew PARTRIDGE, Gill PARTRIDGE, François PEROTTO
Mail: 4 . oiseaux @ wanadoo . fr