This is Hilda, our new student, with her grandparents. Hilda says our sponsorship, ‘will help me to accomplish my goals of obtaining a degree in business administration at Livingstone International University. I can focus on my education without worrying about the finances.’ I am also delighted to say that Sylvia gained a first class degree in Business Administration and Philip a 2:1 in Computing and Information Technology.
When the schools go back the shops always start to display their Christmas merchandise so it seems like a good time to consider Christmas in Uganda. In Kyemula Christmas is primarily celebrated as a religious festival although there is also an element of dressing up smartly and feasting together. In past years we have provided funds for a communal meal for the school children and their carers together with some small gifts for the older people in the village. There is no tradition of Santa Claus in Uganda but it is customary to give foodstuffs so we provide salt, sugar, tea and soap . We would prefer sponsors not to send gifts for their individual sponsored child as it is difficult for those children who do not receive anything but you are very welcome to contribute to the communal celebration.
In Mbale sunset comes at around 6.45pm and the sun rises again at 6.45am – night and day are equal so close to the equator. With the Primary Leaving Exams fast approaching Milton decided some solar lamps would enable the Year 7 students to study better. He has sold the timber from two trees to fund the lamps. Primary Leaving Exams are very formal in Uganda, preparations have included the District Mock Exams which took place early in August. The Year 7 students from 3 schools were tested together with papers in Maths, Social Studies (History and Geography) on one day and Science and English on the next. Milton felt the pupils from Jackie School were better prepared this year as they had been doing weekly practice tests but the results are still being complied. We are hopeful that our planned phonics programme will also make a big difference as many of the children struggle with reading.
Village Stories: Jessica is 7 and lives with her brother, Marvin, at their grandmother’s home. She has not seen her parents in years – her father left to work on a sugar farm and her mother went to be a maid in Kampala – neither has ever come back. Grandmother Zuraina looks after six other children and sells ground nuts to fund the children’s school fees. After school Marvin helps his grandmother. Jessica and Marvin both like studying at Jackie School – they enjoy the lunches because at home there may only be mango or jackfruit as a meal. Marvin dreams of becoming a doctor – he says his grandmother is often sick - she has no support yet feeds everyone in the house including his cousins whose parents also left them with her. Jessica thinks she might like to be a teacher.
The rains have just come again in Kyemula after a dry period when even the new water tank was emptied. The crops of maize and beans have been harvested and planting for the second crop is underway. At present maize flour costs around 1,800 ugx per kilo (40p) compared to its usual price of 1,200 ugx (27p). The villagers generally mill their own maize flour but we buy in supplies for the school – hopefully a good harvest will restore the norm!