In 2008, my family and I went to Uganda. One of our daughters, Charlene, had cystic fibrosis and subsequently became very unwell.
When she went on the lung transplant list she was told she would have to drop out of school, in order to get her weight up and prepare for transplant. The very day she was told she would not be able to go back to school she said:
“If I can’t go to school, I am going to raise money to build a school in Uganda.”
We decided to call her plan Charlene’s Project.
Charlene passed away in 2010, on the weekend when the land was being prepared to build the school. She had so many other plans in her diary, and Charlene’s Project continues in her memory.
In 2012, the Trustees of Charlene’s Project were looking for a second school to help, and were very impressed with the work Build Africa was doing. We visited Kahara Primary School with Build Africa and the rest is history.
The eight schools we are now working with in partnership with Build Africa were severely lacking in facilities and resources. The teachers and management are incredible, but they need support to help them develop and meet the needs of the large number of pupils who attend.
At Kahara we have funded a classroom block, a community hall, a nursery, a borehole, a school kitchen, teachers’ accommodation, latrines and a girls P7 boarding block is currently being built. We have also provided simple farming equipment, sports equipment and books. We have brought out teams of young people and it has been a joy to work with the teachers and local community sharing ideas and growing together.
In Kirwala we have funded teachers’ accommodation and school renovations. Currently we are helping Build Africa with provision of latrines and teachers’ accommodation across the eight schools.
We have also provided secondary school scholarships for over 80 young people from this wider community. Some of these children are the first not only in their families but in their clan to get to secondary school.
They are incredible young people with so much potential.
Seeing pupils have the opportunity to get an education, and in particular the retention of girls in school increase is something that Charlene would be so proud of.
At the beginning of April, I went back to Uganda with two of my colleagues. During the trip we again visited all eight primary schools. The difference from just seven months earlier was incredible. The two words that summed up our interactions in the schools were 'hope' and 'solutions'.
Time and time again the conversation from management and community was about solutions, and how they could change small things themselves to create better futures.
It was so encouraging to see the progress and as previously I can only praise the commitment and impact of the Build Africa staff in the schools and communities. George and his team are doing an amazing work.
Education brings hope and development.
Our vision is to see increased retention in the primary schools, and the development of a local secondary school. There are so many needs but I have no doubt that this community of schools is on an amazing journey of progress, and I look forward to seeing what they achieve together as we all play our part in supporting them on their journey.
We are back again in Uganda in May and I look forward to continuing to work with Build Africa and seeing the ongoing development in these communities.
Dickie Barr, Build Africa Supporter