United Kingdom

Uganda Network

Northamtonshire Scouts - Bwaise
The October reports of the Northamptonshire Project at the Outspan School
Photographs of the visit to Campdowne 2000
Photographs and reports of the Uganda 2000 Projects in Mbarara

The Bwaise project is a community service project in Uganda.

Scouts of Northamptonshire are helping the young people of Uganda to a better future by providing assistance to Outspan School, which is located in Bwaise, a suburb of Kampala, (Map) the capital city.

The project has been developed as a result of a visit by three Leaders from the county in February 1995, when they toured Uganda looking for a possible community service project.

The project considered that one of the major aims is to develop the young people of Northamptonshire in the ways that Scouting already does (physically, intellectually, socially and spiritually.) The project helps to fulfil these aims by promoting interest and compassion for young people in another country. They also help the young learn something about life in a developing country and enable everyone to discover a little more about the world in which we live.

The project is not a building project. It is a people project. This means that there is no fixed target for any fund raising. Any amount of money raised will be of direct benefit to the school and therefore the children. Even a small amount will buy crayons and pencils which will make such a difference to the children's education.

As this is a people project, Scout Groups or individual sections are encouraged to develop links with the children of the school by writing letters and information exchanges. This worked well and when over 50 Scouts and leaders visited the Outspan School in July 1997 many felt they already knew each other

The group of people from Northamptonshire that visited Uganda worked at the school and because of the emphasis on building friendships no special skills were needed. They just need to be prepared to give up their time for others, to show that they care. Expedition costs were raised separate to those funds raised by members for the school.

Diane MacKie visited Outspan again in October 2001 - below are some of her photographs and opposite, her report.

new classrooms
new classrooms
the older classrooms
visit to sponsored child's home

Diane MacKie's story

Having been on the original Northamptonshire Scouts Bwaise expedition and having maintained contact and support for Outspan School, Stewart (hubby) and myself were drawn back to Uganda to see for ourselves the changes we had heard and read about.

We spent a wonderful month, staying at Backpackers (not the Sheraton!!) spending every second day at Outspan with the staff and pupils at Outspan.  Weekends were our own and we did the touristy things then.

What struck us immediately were the changes in Kampala.  New buildings, tarmac roads where murram had prevailed 4 years earlier, new shopping arcades and supermarkets (western style),  the TRAFFIC - it had become impossible to cross the road in the town - there seemed to be 4 times the amount of cars using the new roads, and MOBILE PHONES - everyone seemed to have them. On the surface this seemed a vast improvement but the contrast between the haves and have nots was more evident.  I must confess though that we did see one apparent 'begger' -  hand still out whilst making a call on her mobile phone. Gone were the empty shelves in dingy shops, each appeared fully stocked with everything you could wish to buy - and people were buying.  Perhaps there was more affluence but street kids were still about and abject poverty still evident.


Outspan School

What a difference.  Tom was looking well and the whole atmosphere at the school was good. The new classrooms were making a huge difference to the staff and pupils alike. The building was secure and problems with local children destroying the displays and teachers work had been solved.  This was not so in the older, wooden classroom which was still in use.  Whilst we were there we asked Tom to get an estimate for making the older classrooms secured with window grills and doors. Needless to say, the cost was negligible and we told Tom to get what was needed and get it done.

I am pleased to say that a carpenter was employed for a week and under Toms strict supervision the classrooms were secured, including the fitting of padlocks on the doors. As we had set aside a sum of money for school improvements in our budget, we also had some of the desks and benches, which were in a dangerous state, replaced. The carpenter actually made these at the school with termite resistant wood which Tom went to choose and would not let out of his sight until the job was completed.

I spent time with the 6 and 7 year olds giving art and craft lessons and I also became 'teacher' to the female staff, introducing sewing skills that could be used with the older students.  I left enough sewing notions to last for years and will be happy to replace them as they run out.  The after school tailoring class had to be seen to be believed.  The children of all ages learn their skills by sewing with old wool on empty cement bags. They make their own patterns and the garments produced amazing.  I was given a gift of a skirt made in this way by a ten year old.

Stewart gave his time to organizing the library.  Sorting books into age groups and removing books that were not suitable for any young person to read.  The school now has a good comprehensive library which seems to be used reasonably well.  hopefully it can now be used more efficiently as staff can guide the pupils to the correct shelf instead of searching through before hand.

The staff have lost their 'staff room'  but make good use of the overhang outside the new classrooms when they need to.

All in all the visit was a huge success and it was pleasing to see the changes for the good.  The 'swampy' ground was a sound investment and is now well filled to make a suitable play area between the old and new classroom blocks. The new toilet block has improved hygiene standards and Ruth still cooks away (with her daughter now) in a slightly larger, if still inadequate, kitchen.  This is one area which could be, and we think should be, improved sometime.

As always we were made welcome but we feel that visits to the school can be disruptive.  We were careful with our visits and never went without careful planning with Tom, Dismas and the staff.  They asked us to come at specific times to take a class or do certain tasks and we stuck to those times.  Leaving the school at the end was very difficult and more than a few tears were shed at the farewell party thrown on the last day.  The band played and we were provided with enough food to last a lifetime but the best thing of all was the genuine feeling of friendship we had felt all the time we were there.


Visit to our sponsored child's home.

Squatting in a room no bigger than my 9ftx10ft kitchen at home, we were greeted by Disans Aunt, Disan, his brother and his 3 cousins who all live, eat sleep, study and survive there.  There were no windows, a broken door covered by a curtain, a wooden chair, a stool a covered bench, and a small charcoal stove in the corner where lunch was being cooked.  Clothes were hung on nails hammered into the walls and I think there may have been a smaller room attached which may have contained a bed.  I say may have because it was so dark in there that it was difficult to see. We took a gift for Auntie as a token of respect.  Tom advised us that a paraffin lantern would benefit the family, so that is what we took. He was right - they had no means of lighting their home and, thinking of the light switches at home, were glad that we had taken his advice.  We will always have in our minds the image of the reaction we got from the aunt at being given that lamp. The delight at, what to us was a £4 gesture, was immeasurable.  We spent a lovely afternoon with this family and   by the time we left we had a few more friends. 

Sponsor a child 'YES', know the child 'YES', meet the family 'YES'.

Contact the Uganda Network Copyright © The UK Uganda Network - 2002
Last modified 10 April 2002



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