Normally at this time we would be looking forward to meeting up with many of you at our biannual dinner in a beautiful hotel. An evening with lots of food, drink and entertainment as we updated you on JET, the children and schools. We would never have thought that things could change so fast and now a trip to the hairdresser or a coffee out seems like a treat!
As things start to improve here in the UK, I am pleased to report that they are in Uganda too. Most children are back in school and the vaccination program is underway with some of the teachers, including Nelly who works for us, already vaccinated. Uganda has prioritised healthcare workers and teachers, and of course the president.
During the last few months, we have found ourselves leading JET through some very unusual and frightening times. We have had to think on our feet and react as quickly as possible to the ever-changing guidelines as they are presented to us. Our normal routine of education and the wellbeing of staff and children has been somewhat disrupted and challenged, but with an excellent team on the ground, we are supporting the schools as they negotiate reopening. Initially, the most pressing issues were to ensure everyone was well-nourished and that school was a healthy and welcoming environment for all, making sure parents and the community felt school was a safe and secure place, amid all the fear and uncertainty.
As the children and teachers had lost a year of school it was essential to bring the focus back to the classroom and look to the future.
Being able to offer breakfast and lunch every day has been a huge boost to the wellbeing of staff and children, it also ensures the children attend school regularly. Providing back to school packs with stationary, books and face masks has made the children feel welcomed and protected.
All these measures have ensured that the schools are once again places where children are valued, safe and happy. So they can look forward to a brighter future.
Although this year has brought more challenges than we could have ever envisioned we are confident that we have used the time well and that that we are now even more focused on the wellbeing of everyone in the school and orphanage communities. All orphanage children received extra food and gifts for Christmas as usual, teachers and schools received food and schools were well maintained and deep cleaned.
During lockdown we have been able to built new latrines and a kitchen at Great Hope. The school has been so successful there are now 350 children all needing clean, safe facilities.