A heartwarming letter and ongoing need …

It is always gratifying to feel that the work that we do through the CanAssist African Relief Trust is helping kids (and adults too) acquire education, health care and improved water and sanitation facilities.

Kya Elem SchoolThere are about 300 children at the Kyabazaala Elementary School in Uganda.  CanAssist has had an ongoing association with that school, helping them in many ways.   I have visited the school a few times and can vouch that they do need help. The classrooms are somewhat dilapidated and they have few resources. The teachers are paid a meagre salary by the government and often have to find places to live as their homes are not close by.  When we first went to the school, they were getting water from a dirty pond shared with animals, to make the one cup of maize gruel served to the kids at noon, often their only meal of the day.  Their toilets were abysmal.

IMG_20140912_134515CanAssist helped by repairing their one water tank that had been damaged and installing new toilets.  Other Canadian well-wishers visiting the school (including Hugh Langley, Ann Marie Van Raay and Elizabeth Muwonge) provided funding for cementing floors of some classrooms and between us all, we got electrical supply to the school.
Last year, the Mayer Institute in Hamilton, through CanAssist, funded installation of two water tanks at the School.  This will be a grand improvement to their access to water.

This week, I received an email with a scanned letter of appreciation for the various ways we have helped.  It was, indeed, heartwarming, to get this acknowledgement of our support and I want to share it with those who have, through donations to CanAssist, contributed to all the work we have done at the school.1

Our next project at the Kyabazaala Elementary School is to help them construct teachers’ quarters on the school property.  This will help them to acquire and retain qualified teachers since the school will be able to offer some modest accommodation to the teachers whose salaries are woefully low. The community has already been accumulating locally-made bricks for this venture. The total cost for this six-room teachers’ quarters will be approximately $7000 CAN.  CanAssist (and the school) will welcome any support dedicated to this project so we can start it soon.

 
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A letter from Ivan – Kyabazaala, Uganda

My daughter recently pointed out to me that I was fortunate to be the recipient of most of the feedback from the communities in East Africa that we help through the CanAssist African Relief Trust. She’s right. How can I share that with other supporters of CanAssist?

I do consider myself lucky to have been able to visit the schools, clinics and communities that have been supported, in one way or another, by the CanAssist African Relief Trust…or rather by the donors who give to CanAssist to keep our activities afloat. One of the appeals to our donors is that we pay no Canadian salaries, travel at our own expense and therefore every donated dollar is spent by Africans in East Africa. The cost to us as volunteer travellers, however, is repaid ten times over in the wonderful experience of interacting with our friends in Africa.

Recently a group of Canadians who are supporters of CanAssist visited the B.L.K. Muwonge Secondary School in a remote, small Ugandan town called Kyabazaala. One of the students at the school sent back a letter of thanks to CanAssist supporters. I thought it only appropriate that I share this. I hope you find it as motivating as I do to keep doing what we are working toward to help communities in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania with their infrastructure needs.

Students at the B.L.K. Muwonge Secondary School in Kyabazaala, Uganda write exams in a building that was constructed with funding from the CanAssist African Relief Trust.

(I don’t know if Ivan’s letter will reproduce well in the blog so I have also uploaded a pdf file of the letter here.)

Canada Day in Africa?

We may have been busy celebrating Canada Day in Canada but would you imagine that it is a special day in some African communities as well?

I received some great pictures from the Hope School in Kenya this week.  This school is the one I blogged about last week – the Canada Day Challenge.  I spoke with the Director of the school on the weekend and advised him of the generous donation from the Sasamat foundation towards classrooms at the school and he was ecstatic. 

“We will all celebrate Canada Day and the generosity of your Canadian friends at the school on Monday when I announce this gift to the staff and students.”

Children at the Hope School in Mbita Kenya, celebrating Canada Day 2012.

On Monday the children gathered to celebrate their Canadian sponsorship and express appreciation. With home-made signs they gathered for juice and acknowledgement of the help their Canadian friends have offered. 

But there are Canadian flags flying elsewhere in East Africa as well, thanks to CanAssist.  

A group of CanAssist supporters recently returned from a visit to Uganda and sent me photos of their trip. Included was one of the Canadian flag that flies proudly over the school compound.  When I visited the school last year, the principal laughed and said “That Canadian flag is made of nylon and it flies well in the breeze. Our Ugandan flags are heavier material and it takes much more wind to get them going.  So Canada is always brightly represented even when our flags are limp.”

The St Gorety Secondary School receives a Canadian Flag, and support for two new classrooms at the school.

When I visited the St Gorety High School in Nyatike District of Kenya last year, I took with me a flag for the school – one that was sent by Virginia Puddicombe, a teacher at KCVI in Kingston.  Virginia also sent along photographs and letters from Canadian students to their counterparts in Kenya and the Africans have sent greetings back.  A kind of pen-pal relationship has begun. We hope that, in this digital age, some face-to-face interaction can happen through Skype and the Internet.

While we proudly celebrate Canada here, there are people around the world who also pause to be grateful for the generosity and support that Canada and Canadians offer to them.  

Oh, Canada!

P.S.  We have raised about half the $2500 necessary to get the Sasamat promise of another $5000 for the Hope School. If you have not yet takent the opportunity to help us reach this goal in July, more information about how to contribute is available on the CanAssist Hope School web page.

The children at Hope School celebrate Canada Day in appreciation of the generosity of their friends in Canada who have supported the school.