Jon and I made the last trip of 2023 with two new visitors, Emma a good friend and longtime supporter, and Aaron who was on a yearlong trip around the world with Uganda the last country on his itinerary. It was wonderful for us to share Jinja with them and to see it afresh through their eyes.
Our first visit was to Twinkle to see the long-awaited nursery, which is finally in full use and looking wonderful, as is the whole school.
Twinkle has been completely redeveloped now and offers excellent educational day and boarding facilities to nearly 700 children. They have been so successful
that the headteacher Elijah has offered teacher training on the phonics that we have been providing through the JET training. His reasoning was that no one else teaches phonics like us, and it has had such a positive impact we should share with the community. 126 teachers from local schools came for the training, which in turn will benefit thousands of children.
Next stop Great Hope with YouBelong who we partner to provide good mental health in all our schools. They were keen to see the results of their training.
The YouBelong initiative is working so well that the parents and teachers are taking the program into the community which is really helping to break down the barriers surrounding mental health. They asked David to say prayers, which he was pleased to do. Yossam introduced him as an ‘English Bishop’ although he is actually an Australian Monsignor. It got a bit lost in translation but no one minded and the blessing was just as valid in any language!
Yossam welcomes 350 children as day pupils, the school is thriving with excellent results. They are now producing much of their own produce to supplement lunch with us providing the basic posho (cornmeal). They have been able to offer reduced fees to parents as they returned after the two-year Covid break. This is so encouraging that they are always looking for ways to help in the community and support parents who face such challenging times.
We will start their new build of IT block, library and head teachers’ office as soon as the children go on their Christmas break. This will complete the renovations at the school for the immediate future.
No visit to Jinja is complete without a trip to Yahweh which is a huge beautiful site about 40 minutes outside Jinja. Here they are rebuilding the school
themselves and we just provide educational support. Yahweh is at the heart of their community, providing a clinic and multi-purpose hall to be used by all.
St Patrick’s is the smallest of our schools welcoming just under 200 children daily. They do have a small boarding house but it offers poor facilities as they are using classrooms converted for sleeping, which is hardly ideal and puts parents off using the school.
Despite this the school has the most successful agriculture of all the schools. They produce enough to feed the children without help from us and are also able to offer reduced fees with meals included. They have worked hard to embrace all our training and mental health initiatives and the school results are good. So, we hope to invest in making St Parick even better next year.
I am pleased to report the baby and children’s homes are all doing very well. We have seen some of these children from newborns to teenagers and its such a joy to see the wonderful young people they are becoming. Ready to take their place in their community and country with confidence.
Although the government ititaitive is to encourage links with the child’s community this is carefully managed and monitored to ensure this is a success for the child and the community. The homes offer continued support and a safe welcoming home even after the children have reached adulthood, after all this is the home and family they have grown up with.
We offer educational support in all the children’s homes, even in the baby home one of our teachers goes in each week to read and hold nursery lessons. The teachers all attend our training sessions and our staff visit them regularly.
In a packed week we had time to visit all projects and talk to the head teachers to hear their hopes for the future, and the way we can all work together. We watched the JET sports day, bringing together all our schools in one very muddy but happy event.
Such a positive and rewarding week. We had time for some local sightseeing, a trip to the source of the Nile, Kakira sugar factory including a new gin tasting!
Shopping for baby home. Teaching Jon to dance! Sports Day.
Next trip: April 6th 2024.
Next Dinner: June 13th 2024
Please join us for whatever you can. With your support, we have already transformed the lives of many children and together we will do so much more.
With great thanks and appreciation
Sue and all of us at JET.