Photo: Despite lockdown orders in Uganda for the COVID-19 crisis, our staff are still preparing hundreds of meals daily for our orphan boarding boarding students, resident staff members, and at-risk students at our rural primary school campus who still come for meal service. One of our longterm prayer requests has been our hope for a new kitchen for our main campus. Many other pressing needs always seem to get priority. However, our faithful kitchen staff make do and never complain; it’s a huge job.
We are happy to report that 14 of our primary school students took the National Primary Leaving Education (PLE) exams in November. These students were in the 7th grade which marks the end of their primary school education. We are very proud of them! 100% of these children passed their PLE exams and were promoted to our high school on our main campus. These students come from remote villages with uneducated, poverty-stricken families, and some of them are orphans. With access to a good education they now will be able to transform their future and their communities at large.
In other good news, 68 of our high school students took their national exams at the end of last year, and 90% of these children qualified to join the Advanced Level of Education, more commonly called the “A” level. We enroll students in both the “O” level (the first 4 years in Ugandan high school) and the “A” level (all 6 years of Ugandan high school).
265 children (ages 4-13) started a new semester at our rural primary school in February where they have been studying English, math, and 2 levels of literacy. When they are not hard at work in their studies, they enjoy playing soccer, hide & seek, jump-roping, telling stories to each other, and running, laughing, and chasing each other around the school grounds.
250 children (ages 14-19) started a new semester at our high school in February as well where they have been studying English, math, chemistry, physics, biology, history, geography, agriculture, computer studies, entrepreneurship, and Bible studies. When they are not learning these school subjects, they like to have fun together by playing soccer, badminton, Ruddo, hide & seek, jump-roping, creating stories to tell each other, and running around our main campus.
The Ugandan government is requiring all of the schools in the area to install fire extinguishers to increase safety for the children. Thus, we are seeking raise $500 in order to purchase 10 fire extinguishers for both of our schools. This is a much-needed security measure to keep our children safe.
We are also still seeking to raise $25,000 in order to build and fully furnish a much-needed new building at our high school. With your generosity, raising this amount would enable us to purchase cement, sand, timber, paint, door screens, window shutters, library shelves, computer tables, all of the necessary items for our science laboratory, desks for the students, chairs for the teachers, library books, and lockers for the students. This is an urgent need because our students are currently studying in dusty classrooms due to open windows and doors with no shutters. This situation becomes worse when it rains as wind blows through the classrooms and the students and their books get wet.
Our other great need for our education programs is to raise $8,000 in order to purchase 40 laptops ($200 each). This is important as the laptops will enable our high school students to further excel in their daily studies, including improving upon the computer skills portion of their end-of-semester exams in April as they will be using more efficient laptops.
The rainy season began last month, enabling us to plant corn, beans, green vegetables, tomatoes, onions, and carrots on our farmland. However, the rains are very unpredictable which often affects our ability to grow our goal amount of food. For instance, our banana grove is recovering from the dry season, thus we are mulching to cover the soil so it can retain moisture. Our inability to farm when there is a drought emphasizes our ongoing, urgent need to raise $5,000 to purchase a piped irrigation system large enough for our farmland which will be a powerful, efficient irrigation method.
In response to the COVId-19 crisis, through the guidance of our Rapha Medical Clinic leadership, our Rural Uganda team has been working since late February to teach the students and members of the community via hand washing workshops to make sure that the best WHO-recommended hand washing techniques are being adopted to fight the spread of the virus.
Thanks to our farmland, we have plenty of beans, corn and other local grains stockpiled, ensuring the consistent supply of basic ingredients in our kitchens. The government has temporarily halted school classes nationwide, but our eight staff who live on campus remain with us, as do the approximately 100 orphans who still remain with us. Their needs on campus remain, and we are dedicated to keeping them well fed and cared for while classes are paused.
Every precaution is being taken to protect our boarding students from the virus including social distancing and accepting no visitors on our campuses for over 30 days now. Food is being distributed to our at-risk primary school students and their families who have come to rely on school-day meals for their nutrition and survival. We are doing our best to ensure their continued care under the circumstances. Thankfully, in cooperation with local authorities our distribution of food is being considered “essential services” and for that we are grateful.
Our faithful field director wanted us to pass along this message to you: “I appreciate your generosity towards our work in the field, and I request that you empower us even more to enable the already existing projects to take root as we aim at becoming self-sustainable in the future.”
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