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Lockdown update – November 2020

Thank you so much for all the support you have given to JET over the last year, we have had to spend our time and money differently to how we had imagined at the start of 2020.   We  have had to put on hold some of our rebuilding projects and educational resourcing to prioritise the health and welfare of the children and staff in our schools and orphanages. Your generosity and kindness is  much appreciated and never more valuable than in the last few months.

 These times have been difficult for us all, and at JET we have tried to move with the ever changing challenges as they have presented themselves.  With such an excellent team on the ground we have been able to keep in constant contact with our schools and orphanages. They have alerted us to issues facing the schools, kept us up to date with government guidelines and watched over the orphanages. This is enabling us to work alongside them as we try to navigate the best way forwards together.

Lockdown happened very quickly in Uganda and although the children all returned home to either their orphanages or families many teachers were stranded far from home and without pay.  Our immediate concern was to ensure they had food and they felt supported.

Locally sourced, delivered and overseen by our team. We could also support the local economy at the same time. Everything was carefully managed and quietly delivered to the schools so they could organise distribution to their community.

So far three food deliveries to the teachers and their families. The food deliveries have been necessary and very gratefully received but we soon realised that a more sustainable solution would be needed. Luckily, the climate in Jinja being very warm and wet with fertile soil means everything grows quickly. The first delivery of seeds for Posho (maize) and beans were sown the day it was delivered and within three months we had a very healthy crop.

This will help feed the children and teachers in the future.
We have been working with the teachers to keep them motivated and together as a community, so they can plan for the future both in school and out.

We ran a training day at the Resource Centre to bring everyone together to talk about how school would function as the children returned, and in the meantime how they could help their communities and support themselves. External experts were brought in to talk about small businesses and microfinancing. The day was very well attended, we were allowed 65 people in the centre and 65 came! Of course, we gave a generous lunch and breakfast too!

This was open to all the staff and the feedback was so positive they asked us to do another one. It gave everyone a chance to learn and to voice any concerns about going back to school. For many it was the first time they had seen colleagues and friends for several months.

Schools are now open for the exam year pupils, as we only have primary schools this only affects one year for us which is about 150 pupils in total. This will give us a chance to manage the new safeguarding regulations with a small group and to see how we manage with the extra feeding we hope to do.

Nurse Pauline preparing the schools with face masks, sanitiser, thermometer and handwashing stations.

Each child will receive a back to school pack with a facemask, pencils and pens. We will provide lunch and porridge every day as we need to make sure the children are as healthy as they can be.
Getting supplies and facemasks. Handwashing and distancing in the dormitories.
Queuing for nutritious morning porridge for breakfast and posho and beans for lunch.

Feeding and keeping the children as safe and well as possible is paramount to them starting to learn again and it is already apparent that many of them are frightened and worried. These are not the bouncy, confident chatty children we knew this time last year. We are working with a psychology team to try and identify ways to support and encourage both teachers and children, clearly something we will have to do for some time ahead.

Looking positively to the future we are getting solar power into Twinkle school very soon which will make a huge difference to them.

Great Hope have a new kitchen, and if they are very lucky we may be able to stretch to some new latrines too!

Teacher training has started up again between the UK teachers and the Ugandan teachers.
So many wonderful people have come to our aid from around the world and in Jinja that we can be optimistic about the future. We look forward to a time we can visit again but until then our brilliant team, and our Ugandan board, on the ground make all this possible.

They do everything with such willingness, happiness and compassion. Nelly even found the time to get married to Kyle! Many congratulations to them.

Thank you so very very much from all of us. Keep well and safe and we look forward to a time we can all be together again.

Best Wishes,