Saying goodbye and hello
Firstly, we’d like to say a BIG thank you to our dear friend Dani Palmer, who has been helping us out on our sponsorship scheme, for all the support and admin she has done for us over the past four years, you have been incredible. Dani is stepping aside as she has two very small children and a new venture on the horizon, and even though leaving us a volunteer, will
continue to support us in any way she can. We wish her every success in her new venture.
So, on that sad note, the happy note is that I’d like to introduce you to Sue Huntington, who will be taking over from Dani. Sue worked in general practice as a GP until she retired a couple of years ago. She has been to Uganda a few times, and her heart, knowledge and wisdom will be so important as we look to expand our sponsorship programme. She has already been busy, and some of you may have already received correspondence from her.
Child sponsorship programme
That nicely links into our sponsorship programme. A large part of what we do at Bethel schools, apart from the building projects, is supporting children in receiving a vital education to help them bring about change not only in their lives but the lives of their families and communities. Since the pandemic we have seen many of the children return to school, but many haven’t, for a variety of reasons; Covid caused many students to have to go and seek work rather than stay in school because families needed to eat, so were sent to do gardening or any small job to receive some pay, some were made to marry as families would receive a dowry. Some had to move away because of family bereavement and sadly some girls became pregnant, so couldn't return to school.
This has had an impact on children being sponsored, and so we are putting out a request to see if you can help. We urgently need individuals or families to help children at Bethel schools by becoming a sponsor. The sponsorship will help the child holistically, by helping with their uniform, scholastic materials, meals at school, medical care and immunisations when needed.
For £18 per month you will receive information on the child, letters twice a year, an updated photograph, have the opportunity to write back and form a friendship. You will also have opportunities to visit your sponsored child in Uganda! Can you help change a child’s life and give them a best possible future?
Phoebe writes on the children back to school after the pandemic
For those who have returned to school, it has been a long journey to stability. Many learners are struggling with discipline issues, especially in the secondary school. Some of them learnt to drink alcohol and take drugs during the lockdown, and are yet to leave that behaviour. A few have had to be discontinued because they were failing totally to adjust, there by becoming a threat to the school community. However overall, majority of the children are now settling down again, and are only too happy to get a chance again to be at school.
In terms of performance, teachers are having to work doubly hard to ensure learners pick up again. This is also more so due to the fact that there was automatic promotion for all learners to the next class. There is however steady progress in the positive direction.
Many of the learners are also more committed to God, as shown by their involvement in the spiritual activities in the school, with general realisation that it is God who has given everyone another chance after COVID-19.
Steve, Helen & Bethan Lock visited Gulu in May
It’s going to be difficult to condense all that we got up to in May. What a trip! It was lovely to have our daughter Bethan with us. She led a lot of singing at the conferences and at church. People said she sang like an angel. Throughout the few weeks we spoke at a lot of different conferences and events, and also got to see a few children at school start filter back to school.
We got to visit the new Vocational Training centre, and see the borehole being built. This has now been completed and the community are so happy that the women and children don’t have to walk for miles to collect water.
I got to visit peoples’ homes and share quality time with them, even learning to cook an Acholi meal of Boo paste, chicken stew (even the head and feet!), malakwang and rice. It was delicious, the Boo paste was my favourite.
Thanks, and appreciation for the food support to the elderly. They were able to support 116 elderly people with 5 kgs of posho, 2.5kgs of sugar and 1 bar of soap for each person. (Gift to each individual costing approximately 30,000 UGX). There has been a real lack of food, due to delayed rain fall. In normal situations, we would receive planting rains from March. However, there has been just sporadic rain, until July when we are now getting regular rain. This led to crops drying up in the fields, and leading to gross scarcity of food. The little that was available in the market became so expensive, e.g the worst price for a Kilogram of dried maize has always been 1000UGX. The school had to buy maize as expensive as 2,500UG shilling (55p a kilogram) this season.
Food shortage, like any other problem affected the elderly most, who have to rely on the good will of relatives for survival. The food items to the elderly was so timely. One old man, who gave votes of thanks after the food distribution on behalf of the group was teary, as he said they have not had enough to eat for a long time, as sweet potatoes and other crops they were expecting to harvest by this time all dried up!
In the Karamojong Region of Uganda, death due to famine related causes is estimated at about 900! For the Gulu area, people are trying to plant crops with the late rains, we hope that his will make the situation better in a few months.