Thank you for taking time to visit this page.
In May 2012, I got involved in a charity called One Cause whose motto is “Education is the answer to poverty.” I went to Uganda for a week to observe one of their projects in a small school in a village. .
The school supported by One Cause is a vocational training school where they teach students carpentry, brick-laying and sewing in addition to the more tradition subjects. The chances of employment are increased.
I was keen to find out more about the charity and where the money was going. first hand. I was disturbed to discover that on a national level there was no government funding to provide children with lunch which meant they went hungry whilst at school. How could these children – the future of Uganda – take in any knowledge when their stomachs were empty? One Cause ensures all children attending the school do not have to try and learn on an empty stomach.
I saw a great opportunity to give each child access to the knowledge we all take for granted through the internet. This change to the way education is delivered to these children. Such simple technology would enable the children and teachers to access information from various sources. For example access to educational material related to their vocational studies. It would also provide a window for children and teachers to connect via Skype to like-minded volunteers around the world to help them learn basic skills which we take for granted. My aim is to use the donations provided by you to contribute to this vision of access to the knowledge through the internet with the necessary equipment such as solar panels and laptops.
There was severe lack of resources including both text and exercise books at the school. I raised this issue with the trustees of the charity who explained it was expensive to import second hand books because the duties imposed by government were too high. I met with MP’s and local leader to encourage them to think differently which I believe will help sustain the projects in the longer term.
To ensure as much money goes to the children, I have got agreement that 100% of the donations through this site will go to the children. So please donate through this site to make every penny count.
I would strongly encourage anyone who is interested in supporting me to visit my justgiving site and read the full essay on my trip. You can even visit the project yourself if you are interested. Contact me for further details on email@example.com.
MY FULL TRIP TO UGANDA
By Piyush Patel
I arrived in Uganda and during our drive to Kampala immediately my senses brought me reminders of my childhood spent here. We then went to the exchange bureau and the locals were shocked at the ten shilling currency I had brought back with me from when I had left 40 years ago.
We then went shopping and the rate of inflation had been very high. Since I had left as one pound could now buy me 3900 shillings. I bought food supplies and water then travelled too Sitish’s house. Sitish is the founder of the charity school for vocational training for kids. There I met a number of different people from several different charitable organizations.
Next we drove through traffic in the minibus towards Tororo. Here we met Paul, the founder of Net for Hope Foundation who introduced us to a whole host of other people who had given up their livelihoods and uprooted here so that they were able to spend their time constantly catering to the charities needs. It was extremely satisfying for me to meet these kinds of selfless people as they provided a stark alternative to the fast-paced, single-minded world I am accustomed to in London.
On route to Tororo we stopped at Jinja, the place I grew up in. Here we met local boys who talked about football - a topic I am passionate about so I loved the banter. The next day I missed the sighting of baboons as I was fast asleep.
In Tororo, we had dinner followed by the first of many meetings with the whole of our charity group; we were also joined by people from the local council and teachers from nearby schools. They talked to us about all the things they had achieved that year and what their aspirations were for the upcoming year.
On the next morning we drove to the school via nearby villages. These villages provided us with our first real glance of what rural Uganda was really like as we were surrounded by mud huts, locals working hard on crops and cows wandering through the roads.
We arrived at the local government school where the flag of Uganda was hung high in the schoolyard - demonstrating just how proud the Uganda people were. In the school we spoke to the headmaster in his office which was filled with hand drawn posters, crooked chairs and ageing tables. The headmaster was well dressed, well spoken and well respected by both students and teachers. He took us on a tour of the school where we visited the class rooms and saw children dressed proudly in their neat school uniforms and with wide smiles on their faces.
The school itself had no books and no posters on the walls of the classrooms, just a solitary blackboard in the front to which all the students’ attentions were drawn. There were small openings in the walls instead of windows and my mind wandered as to what would happen to the classrooms if it rained.
The shocking realization that there was no food provided by the government for the children at lunchtime which meant they went hungry all day. How could these children - the future of Uganda - take in any knowledge when their stomachs were so empty? My emotions turned to those of sadness and despair, as all I really wanted to do at that moment was to feed these helpless children myself and provide all the books and equipment necessary for them to work.
Later in the week we met a local MP. I pressed him on this matter of lack of books and food available in schools and his justification was to blame the British and the lack of resources at his disposal to rectify this problem. We debated like this for a few hours but to no avail. Not once did he say he would even attempt to do something about this dire situation. I found his lack of care quite ironic as he himself was clearly well fed (as he was fairly large in stature).
Finally we reached the Auro Vocational Training School that our charity was supporting. The school did vocational courses in subjects such as; English, mathematics, sowing, carpentry and brick laying. Today was their graduation day so when we came out there was a big welcoming party from the teachers, students and parents.
We sat on special seats and spoke to local MPs and Councilors about who we were and what our occupation was back in London. Confidently, both teachers and students spoke fondly about the impressive work our charity did for them.
The PA system and music was powered by a generator. While we ate lunch, I was saddened to find that onlookers such as little children and parents were not fed any food whilst we were treated like royalty.
A few of us collected some money and bought a busload of biscuits and drinks for those less fortunate than us and that were not fed as well as we had just been. These gifts were gratefully received by those we managed to give to. I hope the onlookers who witnessed the students graduating were inspired by the scenes of jubilations they saw and with any luck aspired to similar things in the future.
The pupils received their certificates and were filled with joy and a sense of purpose after seeing all their hard work being appreciated by friends and family. I myself had never experienced a party quite like it as my mother never danced quite like the village people or present me with a live chicken! It was a fabulous and thrilling event organized brilliantly by the teachers.
We then all went back to the hotel with mixed emotions. On the one and we were filled with joy after witnessing these students graduate but on the other hand we were saddened by the though that not all children had such a wonderful opportunity. I was then forced to drown these feeling of sorrow by drinking myself back into a good mood.
I cried when I told my family of this day.
The next morning we had another team meeting in which we discussed the previous days events and attempted to discuss what we could do to make this school even better.
Next we went to the site of a new school, which had been donated by Sitesh’s father. Once there we discussed new ideas as to what the school should look like with the architect. Later that day we went back to the school and began manual work on repairing and improving the school.
We interviewed graduate pupils in order to find out what they though we could do to improve the school and it was during this interview that I saw just how confident and well spoken they were.
The pupils also spoke of how the teachers were their main inspiration and were the roots of how successful they had become. They had no bad words to say about the teachers. He teachers were extremely enthusiastic about their jobs and equally as helpful during the interview process.
Early morning we woke up to climb the Tororo rock - a fabulous idea of Phillips. At the top of the rock we found satellite towers for mobile phone. To our surprise we also found armed guards their too.
Ashish had his picture take with the gun after bribing one of the guards. Please don’t put this picture on the website as this could be seen as us promoting child warfare. Then we had a productive 3 hour meeting with teachers and local MPs.
Here found out the cost to educate one child was 70 pounds and one year’s teacher salary was £500 - not much at all.
Next day we went back to school where they provided us with dinner, but not for the first time I was unable to eat with the thought of so many starving children in nearby villages. Here we interviewed prospective children for a place at the school. They asked me to help make these integral decisions as to which children got a place at the school. However my decision was useless as I was always bound to say yes to everyone. This was therefore an incredibly heart wrenching and saddening time for me.
Most had to work hard making and selling crops, other had no parents and most had to walk a few hours just to get to school and back. The children had a lack of confidence and poor English however at the same time the teachers were still able to see the potential.
How could I make such a difficult decisions? Surely it should be down to the teacher. The children’s stories were too much for me and I couldn’t endure any more heart ache. In my opinion every single one of those children deserved an opportunity.
The future of Uganda depended on these children who weren’t even supplied with a sufficient enough lunch. Later we went into the village to visit the headmaster in his house. She lived a number of beautiful huts accompanied by her mother and disabled sister. They grew their own crops and had animals - clearly one of the lucky few.
We went back to the hotel and talked with people on Skype and introduced the locals to our families - who were shocked and amazed by the revolutionary technology they saw. The next day we went to Jinja where we went rafting on the river Nile, this was great fun and raised our spirits greatly, however when Phillip’s trunks started to become loose the girls got excited.
Next day en route to Kampala we went to see Net for Hope Foundation - organized by Paul Brethen. He had set up a self sustaining community project here for a third year in a row. Paul then introduced us to all the other people working on the project.
The net for hope foundation is concerned with focusing on a constellation of causes and not just a single problem. Their motto being, “a fish net that catches all of the fish as opposed to a single pole.” The project is committed to helping each other and wanted to help the locals to become self-sustainable. An example of this is when he took us to a fish farm where he had negotiated with the farmer the use of the land for profits of 20% for himself, profit was to be distributed between various groups within the community - the money could also possibly used for micro banking.
It was here that I also found out that any money borrowed from banks would mean a 25% interest rate per month. With this type of high interest how could it be possible for any one to start up a new business?
A few hours later we found ourselves en route to Kampala where we saw some more baboons. We checked into our hotels then went to the slums where we met Bavisha and her friend whose charity helped to fund a school in the local area. Their charity provided the school with a roof they had never had before, the next project is to provide the children with an eco toilet.
The children went to school from 3 - 6 and still found time to help look after younger siblings. The school just had basic tables and desk. I sat with the children as they performed a sing and dance for us and they wouldn’t let me go. It was then that I realized that not only did the children require school books and tables but they were also a more fundamental possession - love and caring people around them. I wish I was Madonna and could bring them back home with me. (children adoption from developing countries also promotes child slavery)
Later we treated the children with; sweets, milkshakes and bread and soon we were surrounded as a herd of other children became swarming around us for food.
Having spent the last eight days witnessing the severe poverty these people lived in I soon realized that the problems we faced in the west were minute to the troubles that people were enduring daily here.
Many charities exit around the world but I realized this charity – One Cause has mandated that 95% of the contributions will go towards the children and the schools. This is so important to ensure valuable resources are not wasted. I am so glad I funded my trip to a place which opened my eyes and how much can be achieved through education and working with the children. I would encourage anyone to take a trip and see for themselves. If you would like to contribute to this charity or find out more, please logon the website, www.onecauseuk.org
One cause is always looking for volunteers, especially young people who can potentially develop their sense of giving whilst climbing their own career ladder. The result is a better human being!
So please dig deep and donate now.