Ugandan registered NGO No. S.5914/8841
Autumn Newsletter 2013
Welcome to our Autumn Newsletter for 2013. As a child I vividly remember being teased by other children at school when I was learning to play the trumpet. The same thing happens in Ugandan schools because children and parents don’t understand the benefits of youth music. The usual phrase from teachers – who only seem to care about their pupils passing exams – is ‘what do you want to waste your time on music for?’
Perhaps just a few people may be having second thoughts after I invited the vice-chancellor of Livingstone University here in Mbale to come and listen to our main band. The vice-chancellor, Philip Sheru, was thrilled with our playing and so impressed with our efforts that he offered a scholarship on the spot to any child in the band who had achieved 2 good A level passes. I immediately pointed to Zeu, our first girl tuba player, who had been sitting at home for six months having left school the previous year but who was facing unemployment or an early marriage and a life of domestic hardship. She had obtained 3 good A level passes in her final exams.
Last month I had a tear in my eye as I hugged Zeu at the entrance to Livingstone as I left her to begin her four-year Bachelor of Science degree course in Marketing and Mass Communications. The university has funded all tuition and course fees at a cost of thousands of pounds. Zeu thus becomes our first brass player to be sponsored through her secondary education and onwards and, more importantly, the first girl from her village and community to ever go to university. What a great inspiration to other Ugandan girls. I am so proud of her.
Zeu Kanyaga, the first girl from Mbale Schools Band to receive a scholarship to study at university, being presented with her admission letter by Henry Buregea, the Dean of the School of Communications at Livingston International University. We are so grateful to the University.
Just as we were coming to terms with Zeu’s success we then learned that one of our child sponsors, Mrs Joy Bannister, had offered to support Isaac Nangoye, another senior boy from the band, through a degree course in Information Technology at Mukono University. A double celebration. We are also so grateful to Mrs Bannister.
Through our child sponsorship scheme we try our best to help children either complete their schooling or, increasingly, try and support them through further education. The challenge is that college or vocational courses are usually more expensive than normal school fees. But we try our best when compassionate people in the UK help with funding for their sponsored child.
So we are still appealing for sponsors for school children or students who want to go on to college or vocational training, and for our trainee music teachers while they develop their own music projects. We also have a number of children who just need help for one or two years.
It makes such a difference to so many children in Uganda. Almost half our sponsored children have lost at least one parent. Many of them are despairingly trying to complete their education while relying on the support of a mother who is equally desperately trying to raise enough money for school fees and books by digging in the fields or growing vegetables to sell. It’s a massive struggle and so many parents have made great sacrifices to give their child a chance. Some parents fail, of course, and their child drops out of education altogether.
Please let me know if you are interested sponsoring a needy child in the scheme. If you can’t afford it the best way that you can help is by telling your friends about the program and asking if they would consider sponsoring a child at £15 a month. They can download a leaflet from the website at www.ugive2uganda.org.
Healthcare and Community Projects
So far this year supporters have raised funds for us to pay for 12 operations for children whose parents had no money to pay for treatment. The most recent concerned a baby girl called Rehema.
I had heard rumours of a girl in a remote village who was born with a ‘tail’. I asked Richard, our health worker to investigate. He tracked down the child and her family and when he brought them to my house I could see that the child had been born with a very large cyst at the base of her spine. I took her to the doctors and apart from the impossibility of living a life with such a deformity, they told me that Rehema would certainly die anyway when the cyst eventually ruptured and became infected. With help from supporters (I don’t always name them because they would be likely to receive begging letters) we were able to take Rehema to Mulago hospital in Kampala where she underwent successful surgery last month to remove the growth. She’s only four months old but is already back at my house and giving us her best smile.
The lady in the photo is not the mother. She’s my wife!
We always have a waiting list of children who need help and the amount that we can do depends entirely on the funds that we have. Even paying a small salary for Richard, without who we could do very little, is difficult because it obviously costs money.
Other partner organizations and supporters have also helped us buy and distribute more than 200 mosquito nets, as well as blankets and bed sheets, to needy communities. It’s difficult for people living in the UK to imagine what a huge difference this makes to so many families and we send a big thank you to those who have contributed.
We manage our healthcare program for humanitarian reasons. But this has to be balanced with the need to help Ugandans develop themselves. Charities are not just about more and more giving. So we help children with their education and training through our sponsorship scheme, and we enable them to develop themselves as individuals through our music program.
We continue to maintain and support eight brass bands in Uganda. But brass bands have a limit in terms of variety of entertainment that they can offer and we have now expanded the activities of our main band, Mbale Schools Band, to begin a new weekly performance for the public to showcase the talents of our youngsters.
This is a copy of the program:
1) Mbale Schools Band – Bandstand Fanfare
2) Mbale Schools Band plays march - Slaidburn
3) Mbale Schools Band plays a hymn tune
4) Mbale Schools Girls Band plays Ugandan hymn - Sanyukila
5) Singers – Heal the world
6) Guitar solo – Kenneth Gwanala
7) Dance Troupe – Bamasaba traditional dance
8) Mbale Schools Band – traditional freestyle tunes
9) Drama Group – one-act play
10) Mbale Schools Band plays march - Goldcrest
11) Modern dancing – including comedy routines
12) Jazz Group
13) Singers – traditional song
14) Mbale Schools Band – The Lion Sleeps Tonight
16) Dance Troupe – Traditional dance - Lunyege
You can see that we have become a centre for Music and Performing Arts instead of just a brass band. The children are so talented. All I have to do is organise them!
Thanks to contributions of a few wonderful supporters we have made great progress in building our permanent home – Mbale Music and Performing Arts Centre. We are now only about £3,000 short of the target that I hoped for when I issued our appeal for funds for building work in our previous newsletter. Thank you so much to those that have helped to build a base where children can learn to develop in a positive way through teamwork, discipline, timekeeping, confidence-building, respect for the teacher and religious tolerance. In light of recent events in Nairobi I have often pondered on whether more widespread youth music and sports would reduce violence in the world.
A video that we made in June is here at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qpy32HdFeps
Finally, can I offer my wholehearted gratitude to so many for all the support that we continue to receive. We couldn’t do anything without the help of our donors and child sponsors. A huge thank you to all of you and the difference that your compassion makes to so many in East Africa.
Founder - ugive2uganda
11c Goodwin Rd P.O. Box 47
W12 9JN Uganda
0780 193 0404 (in