‘In a myriad different ways’
Elspeth Dugdale | December 10, 2020
It seems like we have heard it all before throughout 2020: blah blah ‘unprecedented’… blah blah ‘global pandemic’ …blah blah ‘restrictions’.. blah blah ‘symptoms’ .. blah blah ‘mandatory masks .. blah blah ‘Covid compliant’.. blah blah 'quarantine'.. blah blah .. 'travel corridor'. Sounds over familiar?
2020 started with a focus on some very current, relevant challenges in Uganda: climate education & local deforestation. This time last year, we were even making some fun, little Instagram films about treeplanting at WTA. Then, on March 20th all schools were closed very suddenly and when lockdown really started to bite, our focus also had to switch equally quickly. Extraordinary, 'unprecedented' (as they say..) times, indeed.
Overnight, we found ourselves trying to provide what we often cheekily call ‘sticking plaster support’, (urgent & short-term relief): food packages, wage support, medical emergency help - things we never normally do. But 'normal' is long gone. Thanks to the generosity and exceptional kindness from so many, ServeDirect was able to meet some really desperate needs both around Lukomera and in Gulu. We were able to help in a myriad different ways: stories of genuine desperation – widows, orphans, vulnerable families, elderly people living alone; many ordinary people completely stuck without food or money for rent, just trying to survive and scratch a living. Food support is ongoing but the problem is less acute.
A good friend of ours recently likened the current situation to being in a storm, saying that we may all be in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat. Some of us are riding out the storm in bigger, stable boats, some are in smaller vessels but others are just clinging onto driftwood, trying to keep their heads above water.
Honestly, life for our friends, colleagues & students in Uganda remains really challenging. That is not to dismiss the uncertainty & stress of life ‘on this side’ – but we are certainly in different boats.
As we head towards Christmas, we would like to invite you to help us support WTA and the associated projects in the best way possible. As Charles often says ‘everyone has a story to tell’. In and around Lukomera and Gulu, there are a still a myriad different stories and a myriad different ways to support. For Christmas 2020, we have narrowed it down to three key areas: student support, teacher support & food support.
In a nutshell, whatever amount you are able to donate, we will use it to maximum benefit! Here is a guideline of what’s needed:
Students: Only two classes have been allowed to return so far (S4 & S6 to prepare for exams), many are going to struggle to get back to school due to lack of funds for school fees. Getting back to school will be particularly difficult for many of the girls - more of that to follow.
Many parents have been out of work and without salaries for months. It is a very difficult time, especially in the more rural areas.
£20 will help a day student get back to school, £50 will help a boarding student get back to school.
£15 will pay for stationery essentials
£10 will pay for reusable pads or toiletries
£15 will pay for a uniform pack
when will they be back?
“Our very good cabin crew”
Teachers – the teaching staff are the lifeblood of WTA. Benard refers to his team as ‘a very good cabin crew’.
Taking another unusual step during this unusual year, we remain committed to help keep these keyworkers at school by asking for contributions to the WTA Salary Fund. Without this support the teachers would have no income as there is no government support.
For WTA to function and survive as a good school that continues to attract good students, it is essential to keep and attract quality staff. With less students in school, there is simply a huge dearth of funds in the pipeline to pay for teachers’ salaries. This exceptional and, yes, ‘unprecedented’ problem is bound to continue well into 2021, hence our emphasis on helping WTA to pay their teachers.
£150 will fund the average teacher's salary for a month....
As we have said elsewhere, despite the difficulties & uncertainties of 2020, there is great hope, resilience and confidence in the community that this will not last, and that 2021 will be a brighter year. If you can help us to help WTA and the projects move more easily and more hopefully into the new school year, we will at least be able them to keep their boat 'on a more even keel'.
Food help for the most vulnerable
Since April, ServeDirect has had the privilege to help provide basic food packages to literally thousands of families within the communities that we work with. This support reduced as the local crops were harvested - but has remained for the most vulnerable as they remain in a desperate situation.
Over Christmas we have organised basic food packages through several local churches and the parish council to around 120 families. Each package costs about £20. As you can see from the photo, this food brings tangible joy!
As ever, we commit to using every £, $, or € to these key areas of Student, Teacher and Food Support. Remember that 100% of any donation hits the target. If you can help, please donate via the red button on the homepage, and mark it as 2020Students, 2020Teachers or 2020Food according to your preference.
Thank you so, so much. Please read the other news articles for personal messages from Charles, Benard & Deborah.