Just eleven years ago, we held our first, totally unofficial, fund-raising event. It was intended to be a one-off effort in support of some hard-working men and women whom we had met during a holiday in Uganda. We had looked at their work, visited their schools and homes, and were blown away by how much they were able to achieve with very few resources. How little did we realise at the time what that event would lead to! Our friends and neighbours in St Lucien suggested that we should do the same thing the following year. And so it started.
The immediate implication was that we needed to register to allow us to set up a dedicated bank account. It was in this way that Les Amis d’Ouganda officially came into existence in the middle of December 2004. As time passed, more and more British friends joined our French supporters in driving things forward. We managed to open a UK bank account as Friends of Uganda and that helped us to progress.
We were still concerned about the British side of things however. We were a French registered “association”, but totally unofficial on the other side of the Channel. As the years passed, despite all of our successes (and I think that we are right to be proud of them), we could see how that was limiting our work with our British friends. There was so much more that we wanted to do, but could not.
We had toyed with the idea of setting up a UK arm, but had failed to find anybody to sign their names on the dotted line and take the responsibility. It couldn’t be Jeanette and me; we live in “foreign parts” after all! Finally we found a volunteer to be responsible and truly get things moving; or rather she found us. Pam Winders first came to Uganda with us in 2012 and then again this year. Not only did she enjoy the experience, but she became enthused by what she saw and was able to help us in a range of different ways. Finally, she generously made the offer to get us properly registered in Britain.
During our time in Kampala this February, we all sat down and explored the possibilities. We have always called ourselves Friends of Uganda, but that had to change as the name was already the property of others. Perspiration turned to inspiration one evening while we were looking at a newspaper article about our work. The headline was “Forever Friends of Uganda”. Problem solved! We hope you approve of our choice.
How things will develop in Britain only time and hard work will tell, but the immediate bonus is that for the first time we now qualify for Gift Aid – not an inconsiderable matter for a small charity like ours. If you sponsor a child, or if you wish to make a donation, we shall ask you to complete a form to enable us to claim this bonus. The more we can gain in this way, the more we shall be able to achieve.
We shall also ask you to commit to our work by becoming a member. Whether you choose to do so or not will be completely your decision. There is no obligation or pressure whatsoever. However, we must try in all possible ways to raise more funds and make supporters feel that they are involved and valued. There is so much more to do and every GBP that we earn will take us closer to our objectives.
It is an exciting prospect: twin charities. Forever Friends of Uganda in UK and Les Amis d’Ouganda in France – both working together for the same objective: to help children who have nothing.