On Saturday 16th December our amazing team of volunteers served up almost 900 Big Festive Frys in St Saviours Dollingstown. People from far and wide had gathered to support this annual event, now in its 7th year and which for many has become a key part of their Christmas festivities. A steady stream of people flowed into the halls from 7.30am when the doors opened and the numbers grew till at times there were over 200 in the 2 decorated halls enjoying the food and craic on offer. A lot of reunions and well wishes for Christmas were enjoyed and everyone donated generously to this years target of bringing teacher accommodation and latrines to 3 new Charlene's Project schools in Uganda. Many lingered and visited the stalls buying Christmas presents or just enjoying the wonderful Christmas atmosphere.
When all was counted an absolutely incredible £27,500 was raised for the work of Charlene's Project. The money raised brings us well past the half way mark of £45,000 needed.
I would just want to thank all who worked so hard to make this years event such a success. Thanks to Magheralin Parish for allowing use of the premises, all who so generously donated food, those who cooked and prepared the halls and especially everyone who came and enjoyed the festivities contributing so significantly to the difference that Charlene's Project is making as we continue the legacy of an amazing young woman. Charlene would have been so pleased this year as her hero, Ulster and Ireland rugby star, Andrew Trimble, paid St Saviours a visit.
In 2009, on the very day when Charlene was told she needed a lung transplant to survive, she made the decision to fundraise to build a school in Uganda. When Janice and I told her it was too ambitious a plan she asked us “Do you not believe in the power of God” and “Do you not believe in the generosity of the people of Northern Ireland”. Charlene was right and 5 months later the £70,000 needed was raised.
I am reminded of Charlene’s words about the faithfulness of God and the generosity of people as I have just received confirmation from our accountant that in our last set of Charlene’s Project accounts up to the end of August 2017 that since Charlene made that statement over £1 million has been raised and over £1 million spent on education and health projects in the very needy areas where Charlene’s Project works.
Against that amazing background I am writing to invite you to the Charlene’s Project7th BIG FESTIVE FRY on Saturday 16th December 7.30am – 12 noon in Dollingstown Church Halls.
This is our annual fundraiser and in previous years so much has been achieved. Previous Big Festive Fry events have:
2012 - Provided borehole and clean water at Kahara Primary School, Uganda
2013 - Built Community Hall at Kahara Primary School, Uganda
2014 - Built teacher accommodation and supported development at Kirwala Primary School, Uganda
2015 - Supported refurbishment and new classrooms in Vado Ancho and Las Escaleras Primary Schools in Guatemala
2016 - Helped fund school and community health programmes in Kahara and Kirwala Primary Schools, Uganda
This year we are raising funds to help support 3 neighbouring primary schools close to the Kahara and Kirwala Primary Schools we already support in rural western Uganda. These 3 schools need similar development to what we have already done in Kahara and Kirwala schools. For example, Nyinga Primary has over 1,000 pupils with 320 pupils in P1 and only 1 permanent P1 teacher. Yet there are only 44 pupils in P7 as older children are taken out of school to help their parents work the land and early marriage for girls is common. There are 2 tables in the entire school and all the resources for the whole school are kept in one small cupboard in the headmaster’s office. Charlene’s Project has committed to provide latrines and teacher accommodation as the first step in developing these 3 schools.
Both of us and all involved in Charlene’s Project would like to thank you and everyone else who has helped us achieve so much over the past 7 years for needy children in impoverished situations. Please continue to help us create better futures for children by supporting this years BIG FESTIVE FRY on Saturday 16th December 7.30am-noon in Dollingstown Church Halls.
As I look back over previous BIG FESTIVE FRY events I am so encouraged by what has been achieved through the support of folk at the Fry:
2011 Supported development at Hidden Treasure Primary School , Uganda
2012 Provided borehole and clean water at Kahara Primary School, Uganda
2013 Built Community Hall at Kahara Primary School, Uganda
2014 Built teacher accommodation and supported development at Kirwala Primary School, Uganda
2015 Supported refurbishment and new classrooms in Vado Ancho and Las Escaleras Primary Schools in Guatemala
2016 Helped fund school and community health programmes in Kahara and Kirwala Primary Schools, Uganda
Charlene’s Project hopes to support 3 neighbouring primary schools close to the Kahara and Kirwala Primary Schools we already support in rural western Uganda. These 3 schools need similar development to what we are helping provide in Kahara and Kirwala schools. For example, Nyinga Primary has over 1,000 pupils with 320 pupils in P1 and only 1 permanent P1 teacher. Yet there are only 44 pupils in P7 as older children are taken out of school to help their parents work the land and early marriage for girls is common. There are 2 tables in the entire school and all the resources for the whole school are kept in one small cupboard in the headmaster’s office.
Charlene’s Project has committed to provide latrines and teacher accommodation as our first step in helping develop these 3 schools.
This year’s BIG FESTIVE FRY will begin the fundraising to provide latrines and teacher accommodation.
PLEASE HELP US CREATE BETTER FUTURES FOR THESE CHILDREN.
Look forward to seeing you at the BIG FESTIVE FRY on Saturday 16th December.
It was wonderful to see the team of 5 midwives and 1 medical student from Northern Ireland deliver programmes;
To all the children in Destiny Christian High School
To the women of child bearing age and their partners in the Kahara community
To village health team workers in the Kahara and Kirwala area
To the health professionals in Diika Health Centre
It was exciting to see the Kahara Community Hall, built through fundraising in 2015/2016 used for the workshops.
FIVE MASINDI PRIMARY SCHOOLS
Charlene’s Project has funded the STIR initiative through Build Africa for 3 years now. This has involved teacher networking from the 5 local primary schools (includes Kahara and Kirwala) where the teachers share ideas and good practice.
We have been working with Kahara since 2012. Over the last 5 years Charlene’s Project has funded;
A classroom block
We are also sponsoring over 50 children in Kahara and have provided scholarships for 24 children from Kahara to go to Destiny High School.
Since we were last there in March – Charlene’s Project has installed water harvesting on one building with a 10,000 litre tank now located near the kitchen. There is underground piping to a tap in the middle of the school garden. allowing easy watering of the maize. meaning the food supply for school is maintained. The maize grinder is now being installed and this will bring a much needed income stream to school and community.
All the other schools need similar development as Kahara. For example, one of the schools has over 1,000 pupils with 320 pupils in P1 and only 1 permanent P1 teacher. Yet there are only 44 pupils in P7 as older children are taken out of school to help their parents work the land and early marriage is common. There are 2 tables in the entire school and all the resources for the entire school are kept in one small cupboard in the headmasters office.
The biggest needs are for teacher accommodation, latrines, water harvesting and teacher resources.
Kahara Primary —we have been working here since 2012
Kirwala Primary —started working here in 2015
Bunyama Primary —new area of work
Nyinga Primary —new area of work
Diika Primary —new area of work
DESTINY CHRISTIAN HIGH SCHOOL
It continues to be a pleasure to support Destiny and the school development continues with new boarding blocks being completed and the kitchen expanded. It was a pleasure to officially open the school clinic during the visit. Health promotion programmes were delivered to all classes in school and included identity and self esteem as well as relationships and sexual health.
24 Kahara children are now sponsored at Destiny. We hope to offer more sponsorship places to this years p7 pupils at both Kahara and Kirwala.
Charlene’s Project provided the money for the 69 young women from the Acholi Quarter to travel up to Luwero for the 3 day retreat, which included health workshops, personal development and mentoring of the girls.
The feedback from the girls around the programme topics covered was so positive. The girls were so excited to in a different environment and one described how “she felt she was in paradise”.
DIIKA HEALTH CENTRE
Diika Health Centre is a health centre about 6 km from Kahara community. The staff work exceptionally hard but often do not have the drugs, resources or supplies they need to help the many people who come to the centre. Charlene’s Project has previously brought medical equipment and supplies to help the centre and has repaired the solar system to ensure deliveries are not by torch light but there remains much that is needed to help. The midwives were able to leave suitcases full of medical equipment, including blood pressure cuffs, as the clinic didn't have any. This means they will now be able to check the blood pressures of those women who attend antenatal care. The team did training with the Diika Health Centre staff. They highlighted the need for respectful and confidential antenatal care and affirmed the role of men in supporting women throughout pregnancy and the priority of setting aside some money for delivery and possible emergency at delivery.
A very useful training session was provided by the Charlene’s Project team on neonatal resuscitation which all the staff of the health facility found helpful.
Charlene’s Project has developed an exciting new partnership with Masindi Kitara Medical Clinic to train Diika staff, improve health centre systems, supply drug shortages and help increase the overall capacity at Diika Health Centre.
The communities face incredible challenges accessing health care due to the distances and the state of the clay roads when heavy rain falls.
Our team walked with the Kahara community from Kahara to Diika Health Centre to highlight the difficulties women face accessing health services when they are in labour.
The previous evening our team struggled to get out of Kahara so heavy were the rains and so bad were the roads as the picture above highlights. The walk of 6km to Diika the following day traced the journey women routinely make to access simple health and maternity care. Those with complications then have to make a further difficult journey to Kiryandongo Hospital if further help is needed. The women so appreciated the team trying to understand the struggles women in the community face on a daily basis. This work in supporting these women must continue.
A big part of our work this year in Uganda was in the schools of Kahara and Kirwala in rural western Uganda. Charlene's Project has been working in Kahara Primary since 2012 and it was good that Basil, one of our Trustees, who helped select Kahara in 2012 was part of the team this year. The change that Basil saw in Kahara from from the last time he was there was indeed immense. Two school buildings, a borehole, community hall, teacher accommodation and sports field greeting him and all the team was spectacular. As always our welcome to Kahara was so special. Kids Club, Sports and classroom work was so much appreciated by Headmaster Bernard and the other teachers.
One of our big targets this year was to deliver the Jiggers Programme. It was a joy to watch the team of nurses and helpers wash all the children’s feet lovingly class by class as part of the programme. The nurses did health promotion around jiggers and malaria prevention with the parents at the end of the long week of individually teaching each child in school how to prevent jiggers feet infection. We had the joy of confirming to parents that every child in school would receive towel, basin, soap and shoes as part of the programme and as a result of the monies raised in Ireland before we travelled. The cheer could have been heard back in Kampala, if not in Lurgan. After the parents programme silence descended again as we used projector to show the packed hall the Jesus Film in Swahili.
It was wonderful being able to distribute MadLug bags to all the children in school thanks to Dave Linton and the support of a generous donor.
We confirmed another 20 children for sponsorship in Kahara, bringing the number in school sponsored to 60. There was much singing and dancing and celebration but so much sadness as we parted at the end of the week in Masindi.
Kirwala Primary is just a short distance from Kahara Primary. Both Sports Camp, Kids Club and classroom activities went very well considering it was our first time of programme delivery in school. All the teachers were so appreciative of the work delivered and it was our joy to interact with children and teachers during our short time in school. The work men arrived during our time in school to start the painting and plastering as part of the renovations we have commissioned through our partner Build Africa. Teacher accommodation will also be built over the next few months – already funded from Charlene’s Project. Resources were left at Kirwala for teachers and pupils as had also been done at Kahara.
Diika Health Centre
We visited Diika again and it was impressive to see the brand new block built by the government. Disappointing though to turn on the taps and no water – water harvesting is needed urgently. Disappointing too to hear that it will be some time before the empty shell is kitted out with even the basic essentials a health centre needs. It was good to see the lights on and a television showing health promotion programmes thanks to the repairs of the solar system Charlene's Project funded. Brilliant too to see a hospital bed from the container in the delivery suite. Great to see again the wee team of staff there trying to do their best against the odds in this health centre that serves such a wide population including the children and families from Kahara and Kirwala. There are so many health needs in these communities. The help we can give is only a drop in the bucket. But Charlene's Project will continue to try and offer whatever little help we can to improve the overall health of these very special people.
A small Charlene's Project team has just returned from their recent Uganda trip in January. This trip was busy, but worthwhile. Lots has happened since the last team visit which was over 16 months ago. The team visited Hidden Treasure, Kahara Primary, Kirwala Primary and Destiny High (a secondary school which we also support). It was great to see the ongoing improvement of all of these schools.
As many of you are aware, we sent out a container for the community of Kahara and it was a real blessing to see all in the community so excited at the arrival of it. Much of what is in the container will benefit the whole community as it includes educational and health items and materials which will be distributed throughout the school and health projects locally. The people of Kahara welcomed the Charlene's Project team with singing, dancing, joy and lots of laughter.
On our trip to Kahara, Janice and Natalie got to work alongside all of the sponsored children, giving them out their small gifts from their sponsors. Meanwhile Dickie held several important meetings with community and school leaders. Rebecca, Jackie and Katrina (midwives) all did health promotion work looking at the importance of maternal care in the community and the struggles that women face in regard to these issues. It was so encouraging to see the men also involved in this health promotional work. The team also got to visit the local medical clinic and have funded the repair of the solar system to allow electricity at night so that babies do not have to be delivered by torchlight.
A special moment occurred when members of the team had the opportunity of planting trees in the grounds of Kahara School. We look forward to seeing how they will grow over the next years.
We had the amazing privilege of hosting two parties for some of the Hidden Treasure children and the girls from the Acholi Quarter Slum, who make all the beautiful jewellery which we sell. Both of these parties were a real success and much laughter, fun, eating, games and singing was had. Every child and girl received a small gift to remind them how loved they are by Charlene's Project and more importantly by God. It was wonderful to see all of the children and girls have fun, many of them asking when the next team will be back for more games of football and hockey!!
We have brought back LOTS AND LOTS of jewellery to sell which are made by the girls who live in the Acholi slum. All of these pieces of jewellery help support these girls and place these girls back into their secondary education. If you are interested in buying or selling of the jewellery to support these girls, please contact Janice (07709806418). Please continue to help us support these beautiful girls.
As I finish writing this I want to thank everyone for all your continued support in allowing Charlene's Project to bless so many on this trip. Everyone who we met and worked with over the past 9 days sends all the supporters of Charlene's Project their greetings and love.