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October 2023

We are pleased to report that the MCJS Textbook Library project has been completed at the end of 2023.  The school had identified 62 different titles they were seeking to purchase with quantities mostly of 5 or 10 of each, leading to a total of 420 books.  These were purchased from an educational book wholesaler, together with a new school laptop and printer /scanner.  We are grateful to several individual donors, and also the Lions Club of Hexham, who together donated the total sum of £2300 to make this possible.


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November 2023 and February 2024

SEDCU has embarked on a series of annual environmental study trips to enhance the education of children at both the primary schools supported by SEDCU – KDS and MCJS.  This is a longer-term commitment made possible in large part by a generous grant from the Leo Lions (formerly COINS) Foundation.  The first trips of this new programme were in November 2023 (KDS) and February 2024 (MCJS).  The aim of these trips, which are focused on P7 classes at both schools (typically 13- or 14-year-olds), is to broaden the education of the children (and their accompanying teachers).  They will learn specifically about the world around them and more specifically about the environment, wildlife, vegetation, and Ugandan geography. More information and photographs will appear in our newsletters.


October 2023

SEDCU is proud to report that Ben has achieved his goal of walking the 84 mile length of Hadrian's Wall in 7 1/2 days. The goal was to raise money for SEDCU. 

Whilst the weather was mostly glorious, and the scenery spectacular, there were periods where it was tough, but Ben was buoyed up by the tremendous support from friends, family, colleagues and even strangers met along the way; this kept Ben motivated and moving on. A total of 251,200 steps was achieved across the 7 1/2 days.  

SEDCU is pleased to confirm that it's fundraising target was achieved and this will go to our Bursary Fund which is used to fund more costly needs of children who progress to secondary or tertiary education.  

If you would like to support Ben, any donation would be hugely appreciated.

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October 2023

In October our trustee, and SEDCU founder, Ben Herdan will be walking (at the ripe old age of 75!) the whole 85 mile length of Hadrian's Wall in seven days.  

Ben will be starting out on the October 12th.

The aim of this walk is to raise much needed funds for SEDCU's Bursary Fund to finance laptops and other costly equipment (typically £250 per child) needed by the growing number of sponsored children aiming for College and University. 

If you would like to support him, any donation would be hugely appreciated.


March 2023

In 2019, SEDCU trustees visited a room in Mgahinga where a group of ladies were making reusable sanitary pads with aim of distributing them to school age girls and to prevent them taking time off from work or school every month. When trustees revisited the project four years later, they found that it had grown substantially with 25 young women engaged on a part time basis and 2 others engaged full time as trainers.  They are making pads in large quantities, some for sale and others as free donations.  The aim is for 60% of the pads to be sold, to make the project self- sustaining.




March 2023

SEDCU Founder Trustees Ben and Jan made their 6th visit to Uganda in March (at their own expense as ever).  Their aim was to renew important community contacts and see all the sponsored children, their teachers, and where relevant their parents and/or grandparents. In a two week visit they saw all 33 sponsored children, visited 2 primary schools, 4 secondary schools, 2 vocational colleges and met 4 children now at various Universities. They met about 30 parents/grandparents and a similar number of teachers. In reaching the 12 destinations they estimate they must have travelled .around 1000 miles, but given the dreadful condition of some of the "roads" (tracks) it felt a lot further! They were greeted everywhere with courtesy and appreciation, and so many people they met wanted to say how much they appreciated the work of all the SEDCU trustees and the generosity of all the sponsors and other donors and supporters. Many took time to explain what a difference we were making to their children's' lives, and were particularly grateful that Ben and Jan continued regular visits, in some cases also remarking 'despite their great age'!! 


January 2023

A new head teacher has been appointed at MCJS, Mr Iragena Innocent.  He holds a diploma in secondary education and has vast experience in heading primary schools.  In  a contribution to the SEDCU Newsletter Issue 18 he wrote the following:

I'm devoted to creating a learning community which ensures all, including disadvantaged pupils, are well supported to reach their personal potential, and are equipped with the necessary academic, social, and life skills to ensure they become effective citizens of the community.  

Positive highlighting of good behaviour and attendance is also my target. Everyone is encouraged to treat others with good respect and good manners and show concern for each other and our environment. Strategies have been put by staff to help pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs by guidance of Head Teacher. 

I encourage inclusive quality teaching for all pupils through setting high expectations, monitoring standards and sharing of best practice. The training and development of staff is a key target through formal training and also organized workshops and seminars.  It is my dream to pursue additional studies in primary education at University.
Because of SEDCU’s financial contributions, MCJS has become a better place to learn and the dreams of pupils turning into reality!  Amidst all economic challenges, thank you so so much for being the people we can count on every now and then! We couldn't do anything without you! Most neighbouring schools have closed due to current economic situation. We continue to request parents to bring more children to MCJS. We strongly need and appreciate your help to continue pursuing our mission – “Empowering for Generations“.


January 2023

In July this year, SEDCU provided the funds needed for 16 children from KDS to participate in the Ugandan National Scouting Jamboree to be held in Kaazi in August. We considered  this would give those participating an amazing experience, but also to strengthen the message that children with disabilities can achieve so much if given the right opportunities. We are delighted to report that they were victorious in the relevant categories for disabled girls and boys. The local radio station ran the story and the following is an excerpt from the transcript:


"Kisoro Demonstration Primary School’s pupils with disabilities emerged as national champions in the recently concluded competitions in Wakiso district. The school sent a delegation including boys and girls with different disabilities ranging from blindness, deafness, hearing impairment among others. In an interview with Voice of Muhabura, scout teachers at Kisoro Demonstration Primary School were excited to lead their pupils to a national success saying that it will motivate them to achieve more. They revealed that pupils emerged winners in both categories for deaf girls and blind boys and were given two trophies. They asked parents that have children with different disabilities not to hinder their abilities to compete in any competition including sports. They also applauded SEDCU, an organisation that provided financial and moral support to the team at the national level competitions. Voice of Muhabura spoke to one blind participant Niyonshima Talent who expressed joy for the milestone saying that he did not believe in himself before. He encouraged his fellow blind and deaf and those who cannot speak not to lose hope in their lives because disability is not inability”


Supporting Landslide Victims near Mgahinga

July 2022

On January 24th, 2022, disaster struck in an area close to Mgahinga where SEDCU supports Mgahinga Community Junior School.  Houses and crops were destroyed and nine people died due to heavy flooding and mudslides.  This was caused by exceptionally heavy rain in this region of South West Uganda. The affected area was on the slopes of Mount Muhabura, the highest volcano of the three in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

With farming a significant source of livelihood in this community, the affected families lost their food, shelter and income.  The Mgahinga Community Development Organisation (MCDO) launched an appeal for emergency funds for temporary shelters, food supplies, medical care, and seeds to enable replacement of lost crops. MCDO is also looking for long term solutions to prevent similar disasters in future. If you would like to make a donation through GivingWay please go to the Mgahinga Community Development Organisation website or their Facebook site.


Kisoro District Swamped by Congolese Refugees

April 2022

Readers may be aware that there is currently fighting in the border region between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  The M23 rebel militia (named after the 23rd March 2009 peace accord) has made a comeback in the East of the DRC and old patterns of violence and displacement are impacting hundreds of thousands of people. A spokesman for the UNHCR has commented “DRC already has the largest displacement numbers in Africa with 4.5 million Congolese displaced within their own country and 864,000 abroad as refugees.  This new crisis is opening a new front for us with no additional resources.” Humanitarian workers are reportedly worried that, with the war in Ukraine and donor fatigue, organisations and Governments will not provide the resources needed to deal with this fresh emergency. The impact of the global cost of living crisis is compounding the situation.

All this is creating significant difficulties in Kisoro where SEDCU is most active, as it has been swamped in recent months by refugees fleeing the conflict. The main border crossing between the two countries is at Bunagara, only 8 miles from Kisoro.  The number of refugees who have recently arrived is estimated at 33,000 and growing. Our contacts tell us this is having a huge impact on Kisoro whose population in normal times is 17,500.

National Athletics Comptition

April 2022

In April 2022 KDS managed to send 12 children with physical, hearing, and visual impairments and 2 teachers to represent the school and Kisoro Municipal District to the National Athletics Competitions in the disabled section. The special needs team took part in different categories for under 12, under 14 and under 16s.  This meant pupils who had moved on from KDS to other schools and colleges could take part as well to represent both KDS and Kisoro Municipal Council!  Sports included sprints of differing lengths, discus, shot put and javelin, hurdles, high and long jumps! 

The journey helped the children to understand the size of Uganda.  They met children from other districts, too, thus learning about the regional differences. On their journey to and from the competition, the children and teachers saw "many things for the first time such as a railway line, storeyed buildings that were taller than a tree, fly over roads which they had never seen and traffic lights that they used to hear of and see in books".​ They were able to interact with children of different languages, tribes and cultures.


What an experience! Full marks to the school and staff for making this possible and to the students who acquitted themselves so well. 


Art Exhibition in Allendale

March 2022


As many supporters will know, SEDCU was bequeathed a substantial number of paintings by the family of the artist, David Almond. 


David spent his retirement painting watercolours of his beloved Lake District, as well as the Pennines and other countries he visited. Allendale Forge has kindly offered to mount an exhibition of some of his works in April.

If you are in the North Pennines over Easter why not take a trip to Allendale to combine viewing the exhibition with seeing other artwork and enjoying a coffee and cake in their café?

Back to School after 83 weeks COVID shutdown

January 2022

On January 10th, Uganda ended what is reported to have been the world’s longest school closure.  The Government has indicated that primary and secondary pupils would mostly resume their classes a year above where they were when the closures began in March 2020. Remedial lessons will be provided for some classes to help cover critical content missed during the closures.  Assuming all now goes according to plan, the school year would consist of 3 normal terms ending on 9th December 2022. The 2023 school year will start on January 29th .We understand that the dates for the various national exams are yet to be announced.

The Education Minister said he ‘urged schools to follow health protocols…. and they are required to implement guidelines and standard operating procedures to ensure safe return to school for all children.’ He also said ‘Measures have been put in place to ensure that those who don’t comply do so’

Disability is not Inability

November 2021

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In November, our sponsored blind student G was elected as the speaker of the Association of all Disabled People at Makerere University and he is now on the University Guild Council.
G had been sponsored through SEDCU since 2012 and we have proudly watched him progress through KDS and Hornby High School and, finally,
Iganga Secondary School where he sat his A Levels He was successful in gaining a place at Makerere University to study Education.

What a transformation!

CONGRATULATIONS G! You are an inspiration!

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SEDCU Trustee to run 100km in Greece

October 2021

Kate Coulson, SEDCU trustee currently residing in Greece writes "Tomorrow I start my challenge to run every day in November! I will aim to run at least 100km in the month. I am setting myself this personal challenge to raise much needed funds for SEDCU so that it can continue to support the sponsored children and their communities during the Covid-19 pandemic."

Kate Coulson is fundraising for SEDCU (

Ugandan Colleges and Universities set to Re-open

October 2021

In June 2021, all educational establishments were closed at very short notice due to the worsening spread of the COVID Pandemic across Uganda.  This has remained the position since then (apart from Medical Colleges).  However, there is good news in that from November 2021, Universities and Colleges of Further Education are to reopen progressively provided they can comply with Government requirements to enforce social distancing and other measures to inhibit the spread of the disease. The details are not yet finalised, but we understand that four of the SEDCU sponsored students will be able to return to their studies, and a fifth will be able to start her course. There is a sixth who has applied to University, and he awaits the result of this application.  We wish them all well!





Unfortunately, all Primary and Secondary Schools remain closed, but there is at least a possibility that they may reopen progressively from January 2022 provided they can comply with quite stringent Government requirements.  SEDCU remains in contact with the key people in both Schools and the Communities, and has continued to fund some teacher salaries and some ongoing hardship relief for pupils and their families.

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Blind student G back at Makarere University.

All Schools Close as Second Wave of COVID hits Uganda

June 2021

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

June 2021

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

November 2020

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

July 2020

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

June 2020

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

April 2020

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.


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New dining room and kitchen at MCJS

November 2019

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.

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Successful Visit by SEDCU Trustees

October 2019

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.

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Scouts win again!

September 2019

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

August 2019

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.

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SEDCU trustee competing in 70.3 mile triathlon!!

August 2019

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.

Work starts on new dining room and kitchen at MCJS

March 2019

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 should be sufficient to complete the construction of the walls for the whole building.

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Current look from the side of the Kitchen (south wing)

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.

MCJS New Classroom Block Completed

February 2018

Mgahinga Nursery and Primary School was in desperate need of improved classroom accommodation.  A new piece of land has been purchased and on April 5th 2016 the building work got underway with members of the community transporting rocks to create the foundations. SEDCU undertook to raise the majority of the funds for the roof, which was fully installed by October 2017.  The rest of the building work was duly completed by February 2018 in time for the start of the new school year.


Funds raised for new large water tank

December 2017

There is no water supply at Mgahinga Community Nursery and Primary School, which is in a remote area of south western Uganda on the borders of Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.


The staff and children have to rely on rainwater collected by guttering from the rooves of the school buildings. As the school grows they are in desperate need of a new larger water tank to provide safe water for drinking, cooking and sanitation. This will mean that more children can gain the life changing opportunity of an education.


Kate and Lee ran the London Marathon in April 2017 and raised an amazing sum of money.  Combined with a major donation by Welshpool and District Rotary Club this has enabled MCDO to press ahead with construction of a 20,000 litre tank'. 

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