Nov 13, 2020

Share Project COVID-19 Update

Dear friends of ADR and the Hammerslag School,

With the funds received since our last correspondence, we have continued to support teachers who remained at school, paying rent and food expenses, and maintaining the school compound, as well as paying a night guard to keep the school property safe while we were in lock down. The funds also helped in printing and photocopying learning materials for students to complete while at home.

Although I must report that our situation amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected everyone, young and old alike, shutting down schools and the economy for many months. Although the government recently re-opened the schools for candidate classes only (we are currenlty registering 10 canditates for the 2020 PLE exams), all must meet certain conditions to be certified as safe for bringing students and teachers back. 

At present, we have been unable to do so due to a lack of sanitation supplies, including soap and hand sanitizer, as well as a supply of masks for the teachers, and students over the age of 6 years. We are also facing a shortage of desks and benches to accommodate social distancing in the classroom. Additionally, construction of the new school toilet block (interrupted when COVID-19 struck) is still not complete, but will need to be finished in order to maintain sanitation requirements. Building separate boarding / dormitories for our students and more classrooms will also be necessary, now that the government recommends only 10 students per class for primary schools, and 15 students per class for secondary schools. This is a great challenge because we have many students now coming to our school and keeping only 10 children in a class will prevent many from accessing an education.

Beyond pandemic-related needs, our school still lacks many items: adequate food and mattresses/bedding for students to use. The solar panels that we installed at school are not good enough to produce light for students through the night, and the battery is now weak and needs replacement. Teachers salaries also need additional support as parents have been unable to keep up with school fees amidst the economic hardship.

Now that we are faced with a new normal, we need your continued support to address immediate challenges the COVID-19 has brought to our community. We hope that you will help us reach these goals and overcome this most difficult year. 

Thank you and much love,

Charles

Jun 10, 2020

Updates from the Hammerslag School

The children enjoying class just before COVID
The children enjoying class just before COVID

 Dear friends and family of SHARE Project and the Hammerslag School,

As usual, we thank our donors for their continued support and recurring donations to keep our school running. However, along with the rest of the world, schools have been shut as of March due to COVID-19, sending all of our learners back home. Before this, donations had been used to gradually improve the school (e.g. plaster the classroom walls, purchase additional school desks and chairs, and construct a female and staff toilet). Most significantly, we were also able to pay off our final loan to the bank and pay full February salaries and house rent to our teachers, which was a huge relief.

Despite this progress, we have been under incredibly difficult times due to the virus. The sudden shut down of our country has trapped some of our staff who are not from Pallisa and were unable to return to their families. Therefore, we had to continue to house and feed them, along with the students who relied on meals at the school, which has been incredibly difficult due to a lack of funds and no work in the village.

Our partners, Good Neighbours have helped some, sponsoring pandemic food rations for 43 children to eat while at home. This was helpful for the first two months, but this support is now finished, and our children, as well as their families are in dire need.

As for learning, the government has switched to a new approach of teaching through radios and televisions, but this has been difficult, if not impossible for most of our rural and vulnerable children who do not have access to either. This has been a concern in preparing our students for their final PLE exams.

Currently, the virus is continuing to spread throughout Uganda, with our Prime Minister in quarantine after his aide tested positive. This is a huge worry because our children come from rural settings where there is no testing equipment and a lack of health care, and people are already dying. Although we are told to wear masks and wash our hands regularly, this is not possible for many who lack clean water, sanitation supplies, or are not able to afford to wear masks on a daily basis. Perhaps most upsetting is that there is a huge misconception about the illness in the community, with many calling it cholera. Due to limited access to outside information and with the majority not educated, disease awareness and prevention is of utmost importance to reducing COVID’s spread.

Beyond the virus, the biggest concern for people has been feeding their families. As you can imagine, most are struggling economically, and children and adults are both going without food. In addition, many live in crowded households with the entire family, including the elderly. Because the cities are shut down and the youth are out of work, they have returned as well to their rural homes, contributing to over-crowding. Other cultural practices such as eating together, shaking hands and embracing have made social distancing even more difficult.

Due to these challenges, we kindly ask for your additional support during these unprecedented times. Donations will go to feeding our children and larger community, raising awareness about the disease, as well supplying them with masks and sanitation materials to stay protected. We are also hoping to raise funds to print and deliver learning materials given by the government to help students learn at home and prepare for their coming exams. Now more than ever we need your support to overcome this terrible crisis. Any donation, big or small, will go a long way in keeping our community safe.

Much love and many thanks,

-Charles

Feb 11, 2020

Share Project Update 2020

Completed electrical pole
Completed electrical pole

We have great news since our last report. Our pioneer candidates performed well in the 2019 Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE). The Best Candidate received 15 aggregates, missing only 3 points to getting Division one. The second best got 19 aggregates, the next got 21, and four tied up in 22 aggregates and 25, 28 and 30 respectively. We sat 10 students and managed to beat the 3 government schools in the same sub-county. Nine of our Students sat PLE at Osonga Primary school and one of our students at Olok Primary school; as our school does not have an examination center.

We would like to thank all of the donors for their support and contribution to this great performance in our community who had lost hope for their children ever making it to a high school education. If such sacrifices were not made to this community and its children to build a school to go to, this goal could not have been realized. We thank the Hammerslag family and all their friends who believed in the idea of building classrooms where there was no school-- when children were studying under trees to be able to graduate to a high school education.

When we made our first ask for donations on GlobalGiving, a man called Quirois introduced us to the Hammerslag family, and from that time we got their support to begin construction of the school for the many vulnerable children in Pallisa. Our student population continues to grow each year because of your support.

A big thank you goes to Mother Loretta and her daughter Jenna for all the sacrifices made so far and they have continued despite their own family needs to stand with this rural community and help educate their children, including feeding and paying for the teacher’s salaries and purchasing scholastic materials that make learning possible.

Recently the government has extended electricity in the village where the school is located and we managed to pay for a low voltage power pole at the school compound. Further funds are needed to help install power in the classrooms to help our children read and revise their books at night in preparation for the 2020 PLE. A photo of the completed electrical pole has been included with this report. 

Considering this new opportunity, we invited an engineer to inspect the school, who advised us that we need to pay application survey fees and purchase the following supplies in order to install electricity throughout the compound: MK box, earth wire and rode, junction boxes, land cable, 50 kgs of salt, charcoal dirt, sockets, switches, clips, bulbs inside and outside the classroom for security. This will cost an estimated 1,000 USD, including labor.

We have also used the recent funds to pay our first installment of the school loan. Additionally, we have used part of the money to complete the plastering of the remaining classrooms and partitioning of the old school toilet to separate male and female use, as requested by the health authority at Pallisa District. Finally, we have secured a few scholastic materials to start the new school term 2020 and repaired teachers rented accommodation.

We request for more support to help feed the children, build a better kitchen, and also improve teachers pay, as we keep losing good teachers at the end of each year. At the moment we are only able to pay 100,000 UsH per month for a teacher, and 50,000 UsH for support staff, far below the proposed living wage for a teacher in the country.

We need funds to be able to complete the construction of the new school toilet, as the old one is shared by the entire school population, the students and staff, as well as some members of the community who do not have toilets in their homes. 

The school continues to struggle accommodating boarding children who sleep in the classrooms, and we worry a lot about their health. We ask any kind-hearted individual to consider switching to a recurring donation through GlobalGiving in order to sponsor these children, and help provide them with adequate, consistent care. Every amount counts. Most importantly, we must build a separate accommodation, starting with a girls dormitory this term. This can be completed with as little as 7,000 USD, including washrooms. We hope you will find it in your hearts to continue supporting our efforts. We thank you for reading our report.

Much Love,
Charles Olupot

Children learning in the classroom
Children learning in the classroom
One of our 2019 PLE candidates
One of our 2019 PLE candidates
 
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