All Schools Close as Second Wave of COVID hits Uganda
In May, the Ugandan Government set out a plan for progressive recovery from the impacts of the pandemic on the education of children and young people. In the near term, the plan was for the 2020 academic year to end on July 24th, and for the 2021 academic year to commence on August 9th 2021.
However, the last weeks have seen a second wave of the pandemic taking hold across Uganda, with a sharp rise in infections and deaths. Only a very small fraction of the population (around 2%) has been vaccinated and supplies of vaccines are scarce. In early June all schools, colleges and universities were closed at very short notice as part of a fresh major lockdown announced by the President on June 7th, initially to last for 6 weeks
Clearly it is impossible to say when schools and colleges will reopen. We are very concerned for all the children who have had to return home, and also for the staff who may have been laid off once more without pay. The SEDCU trustees have therefore decided to send further emergency funds to the schools to support staff and to ensure their schools will be in a position to re-open when permitted – we understand that many private schools have gone bankrupt and may not be able to reopen. Our funds may also be used to alleviate poverty in families and communities of sponsored children whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the pandemic.
SEDCU Raises Funds through Open Air Art Exhibition
The late father of one of SEDCU’s supporters was a talented artist and geologist by the name of David Almond. In his retirement, he panted rural landscapes, mostly of his beloved Lake District. His family have donated his collection of some 150 original landscapes to SEDCU with the aim of us raising funds for our activities in Uganda where he had worked for part of his career. We have been seeking outlets through which we might sell these paintings and in late June we had a stand at an art exhibition called PromArt which is staged on the Promenade of Grange over Sands, just South of the Lake District, during the summer months. We are pleased to report a number of sales, and plan to exhibit again in August.
Schools Start to Reopen across Uganda
While the Ugandan Government has continued to maintain various measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 within the population, it has decided to partially lift the lockdown measures originally imposed in March 2020. Among other things, it decided that year groups whose pupils in primary and secondary schools will be taking their national examinations (classes P7, S4 and S6) should be permitted to return to school in October 2020 providing the schools have put social distancing measures in place which are subject to government inspection. They will attend for two terms ending in March 2021, so enabling the orderly transition from Primary to Secondary, and from Secondary to Tertiary, to occur. We believe that some other children with special needs may also be allowed to return to school. We await confirmation of the impact of these announcements on SEDCU sponsored children, as well as further news on when other children will be allowed to return to school, possibly in February when the new school year would normally begin.
SEDCU Continues to Support School Staff
As school closures continued, SEDCU has continued to fund part salaries for teachers laid off at MCJS, and also began to fund a similar scheme for specialised special needs teachers at KDS and also Hornby High School to alleviate their difficult situation.
School Closures in Uganda
The COVID pandemic lockdown is continuing in Uganda and all schools and colleges remain closed. We became aware that the teachers at Mgahinga Community Junior School had been laid off without pay, and without access to any form of social security support. The SEDCU trustees decided to send funds to the Mgahinga Community Development Organisation (MCDO) to support the teachers and they are now receiving 50% of their salaries and have met either at the school, or by phone, to plan for the day when it might reopen. We were also told about a plan for the group who produce sanitary products in the community to produce face coverings at the school for the community, and we decided to pay for the materials needed to get this work underway- here they are with some of the results in front of the school.
In a separate initiative, MCDO have launched an appeal for money to help feed the community members who have lost their ability to earn income due to the lockdown restrictions.
School Closures in Uganda
We have been informed by contacts in Uganda that all schools, colleges and universities in Uganda have been closed as one of many measures designed to prevent a corona virus epidemic. The President of Uganda announced this decision on March 20th and the closure was for 30 days in the first instance, but one can speculate that it may well be extended. Airports and borders were closed with immediate effect. Subsequent announcements have included all forms of transport within the country being banned except for the most exceptional circumstances, and a night- time curfew. With almost all SEDCU sponsored children being boarders, the closures have meant that with no notice, transport has had to be organised for all children to return to their homes or to homes of family members as appropriate, in some cases involving long journeys.
We have no more information than this. We can only hope that they and their teachers will all be safe, and that this will be helped by the remote location of their homes. However, with lack of sanitation and clean water in so many areas the prospects for the Ugandan population, as a whole, could be dire.
Students prepared to leave their College for the journey back to Kisoro District.
Annual Report 2019
The SEDCU trustees are pleased to report another successful year for the charity. Our seventh Annual Report and Accounts - for 2019 - have now been published on this website. This has been a year of consolidation and growth as the charity has broadened its supporter base and been able to increase the funds sent to the schools and children supported in Uganda. Our income increased to £30,806 and payments made to schools in Uganda increased to £28,447. Of our total expenditure, 63.1% went on sponsorship of the 30 children we support, 35.1% was used to fund various projects at the schools, and just 1.8% was spent on administration.
New dining room and kitchen at MCJS
Following an initial donation by SEDCU, Mgahinga Community Junior School started digging foundations for the new Dining Room and Kitchen in December 2018. A second donation in March 2019 proved to be sufficient to complete the construction of the walls for the whole building. A Swedish charity has funded the roof which was completed in November.
Work is now underway on finishing the internal building work and fitting out. Thanks go to all our donors who made this possible including the team who did the Leap for Lunch, Welshpool and District Rotary Club and School Places.
Successful Visit by SEDCU Trustees
Four of SEDCU’s trustees spent a very rewarding time in Uganda in October, travelling (as always) at their own expense. They visited every school and college which is attended by SEDCU sponsored children. They were delighted to meet all 30 children and to receive first-hand reports on their progress from their teachers. They also visited some homes and met other parents at school. The trustees were also very impressed by the achievements of the current and completed projects. Wherever they went, they were struck by the positive attitude of the children and the dedication and commitment of staff and others supporting SEDCU’s endeavors.
Scouts win again!
In the summer of 2019 KDS Scouts once again triumphed at the Ugandan National Jamboree, following on from their successes in previous years. This sends a message that “disability is not inability.!
Paralympic Sporting Successes
In August 2019, a team from Kisoro Demonstration School funded by SEDCU competed in the Paralympic Gala Sports event in Mpigi District. They came first amongst primary schools competing in classes for the visually impaired and deaf children. Another fantastic achievement!
In September 2019 a team from Hornby High School Kabale, including a blind girl sponsored through SEDCU, were funded by SEDCU to compete in Paralympic trials also held in Mpigi. These trials were part of a process to select children to eventually compete in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. The Hornby team came 3rd overall, and 10 of the children have been selected for the next stage of trials which will be held in Morocco – and will be Government funded.
SEDCU trustee competing in 70.3 mile triathlon!!
Trustee Kate Coulson participated in a 70.3 mile triathlon on 4th August 2019 to raise funds for SEDCU's Bursary Fund. She exceeded her target of raising £1000 for the Fund. If you would like to support her and SEDCU it is not too late, please click on the link below.