58% of the population of Uganda are under 15, while just 3.8% are over 60. Whilst average life expectancy has risen from 45.7 years to 62.2 years for males and from 50.5 to 64.2 years for females in the years since 1991 it is notable that there are a large number of older women and just a few older men in Kyemula – with no birth records many people are not sure of their exact age. Many of the intervening generation have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS leaving the older people caring for grandchildren. There is no state aid for older people so they need to continue to work their gardens to feed themselves and those they care for.
. We have traditionally given the older people gifts at Christmas. We buy them things which can only be bought with cash – soap, salt, sugar etc. This year we also replaced some people’s hoes as the ones we bought two years ago had worn out!
The schools are on holiday until the end of January. We have agreed to give the school staff a pay rise – the first they have had since we started the sponsorship scheme – thanks to everyone who responded to my request that those sponsors able to afford it increase their monthly payment to £12. This will make a big difference. We still have a number of children needing sponsors – the more sponsored children we have the better the quality of the school meals as not all the pupils are paying fees and contributing to the school economy.
Our Christmas Appeal was, again, very successful and we will be sending money for more farmers in Kyemula to buy seeds, fertiliser and pesticides – and for some replacement items which have worn out or broken. We are waiting for more information from Zukuka Bora coffee co-operative about the possibility of a joint project in Namyaili. Milton sent this picture saying ‘ One family peeling cassava as a meal for lunch and super. The last year's plan of planting cassava has contributed to enable families to have something to eat. This would the beginning of the worst months but now they are not all that badly off because the cassava can sustain them for a while. Thank you once again for that plan.’