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Aug 26, 2020

Groundhog Day

Girl learning at home in Otici
Girl learning at home in Otici

Hello!

I don't know about you, but here it feels rather like Groundhog Day.  Get up, make coffee, get dressed for work (but don't go to work), work from home all day, cook supper, go to bed.  Get up do it again!  I work full time and run Seeds for Development in my spare time and yesterday my boss announced that we are in week 25 of working from home - nearly half a year.  It feels like a lifetime, but where has the time gone?

In Uganda, life goes on, but like here not as we know it.  Schools are still shut, but there is a bit of movement and transport working.  The number of Covid-19 cases are starting to ramp up now - instead of a couple a day, it is 60 - 100 and 25 people have lost their lives to the disease (as I type this).

Since my last report, Malaria and Scabies have struck the villages in northern Uganda.  Hunger continues and now we have floods to add to the misery.  Luckily the locusts avoided the villages we support (other than a few that were quickly eaten up).

However, at Seeds for Development, we operate a "cup half full" policy and always find the bright side of things and look for hope and solutions.

One of these is that our goal to grow and generate our own food security is starting to reap rewards.  The farmers who were able to plant seeds are now harvesting corn, cabbages and beans.  We have bought that and are distributing it to the farmers who do not have anything and ate their seeds earlier in the season. One farmer is growing corn for its seed and we will be helping him store that, in order to distribute it to the farmers for the next season.

As the schools are shut, we continue to encourage and support home learning and making sure our cup of porridge continues for the children, but at home.  The teachers move from home to home, teaching the children and sharing maize for porridge with the family.

It is impossible to say what will happen next in these turbulent times, but I do know that we will not give up on the people we support.  Your generosity and kindness enables us to do this.   As I said at the top of this email, I work full time and run Seeds in my spare time.  Sue and Penny, who are the other trustees, also volunteer.  100% of donations go directly to the projects on the ground, helping feed the children who might not eat anything else all day without their porridge.

Thank you for your support, please don't stop.

With love, hope and gratitude

Alison

Grandmother and the 7 children she brings up
Grandmother and the 7 children she brings up
Baby with soap and scabies cream provided by us
Baby with soap and scabies cream provided by us

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May 5, 2020

Porridge during Coronavirus

Children eating dry sorghum stalks
Children eating dry sorghum stalks

I think this is the first time I can remember that the whole world faces the same challenge and most countries have all reacted in a similar way - imposing a nationwide lockdown.  This is the case in Uganda, where Coronavirus cases are lower than many other countries but the government is taking no chances.  I thought I would take the opportunity to use this report to update you a little on what is happening there and how we are reacting and responding.

Schools are closed, shops shut and a curfew in place to keep people home.  You can travel on foot or bicycle. Food prices are so high that most people can't afford to buy food. This is causing major problems in both towns and in the countryside. If you live in one of the villages that we support it takes a long time and a lot of effort to get into town.  First of all you need a special permit to travel and then you need to either find a bike to go on or prepare for a walk that can take many hours.  The government have a task force to distribute food parcels to people in towns who live on a day by day, cash in hand and are unable to earn the money to buy food.  If you have a monthly salary or can grow vegetables you are not entitled to the food parcels.  You can imagine what this has done to food prices.  They almost quadrupled until the President banned people from hiking prices.  Now they are still extremely high and food is very scarce in the towns.  The price of a 250g pack of salt went from 300 shillings ($0.08 / £0.06) to 5,000 ($1.3 / £1.00).  If you have no money then that is impossible.

If you live in the countryside you are not entitled either.  This has meant that the farmers we support are now forced to eat the seeds they should be planting and forage in the bush for wild plants and grass.  Because the nursery schools we support are closed and people can't gather, we can't provide porridge to the children at this time.  So we are being creative in how we help feed the families who need the most help.

The first thing we did, when the schools were shut, was to buy as much soap as we possibly could.  Because people could still move around at that time, we were able to distribute soap to more than 1,200 families - together with strong messages about washing your hands.  Now things are more difficult because individuals are not allowed to distribute food during the government distribution.  So, we are facilitating the villages to buy food locally and then take it to the familieis and people who need it most.  We have bought 700kgs of maize and beans and loads of salt.  By being careful with sharing it wisely, we have helped provide meals for more than 6,500 people or more than 1,300 families (there are an average of 5 people per household).

Of course, as soon as the lockdown eases and schools can reopen, we will be back on track supporting the children with porridge.  In exciting news, there are 2 new nursery schools about to be built, so more children to feed! They will need our help more than ever in the future because in a few months when the farmers should be harvesting their crops, they might be looking at empty fields and gardens and wondering how they will survive the next dry season and I haven't even mentioned the locusts who are waiting in the wings ready to eat everything in their path when their babies hatch in a few weeks time.

At this time, when charities face so many challenges and spiralling costs as donations go down, we are so happy that we have no overheads or operating expenses here in the UK, meaning 100% of donations go directly to the people on the ground in northern Uganda. 

Without you we couldn't do it. So from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you. 

Stay safe and keep washing those hands.

With all best wishes

Alison

This farmer prepares wild plants found in the bush
This farmer prepares wild plants found in the bush
Making sure children wash their hands is key
Making sure children wash their hands is key
Handing out soap to the most vulnerable
Handing out soap to the most vulnerable

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Jan 17, 2020

Another year, another cup of porridge

Sponsored children
Sponsored children

Hello and Happy New Year!

In our last report I told you about the new nursery school we are building.  We are on course to have it completed (well, a building with a roof but maybe not painted) in time for the new school year in February.  At Seeds for Development, we are all about the detail and I thought I would share with you just how much goes into building a little village school..

So far, it has taken:

  • 20,560 Bricks
  • 264 kgs of nails
  • 101 Bags of cement
  • 60 Iron sheets
  • 40 Litres of wood preservative
  • 26 Lorry deliveries
  • 13 Local people employed
  • 12 Lorry loads of sand
  • 6 Lorry loads of aggregate
  • 5 Hacksaw blades

Going into this level of detail is critical for both us and the communities we support.  With another 3 nursery schools and a Peace and Reconciliation Centre being planned in 2020 it is essential to be able to plan and budget accordingly.

Our cups of porridge have been costing 8p per cup, but due to the terrible weather leading to poor harvests and a reduction of maize we think this is going to increase this year.  It won't stop us ensuring that every child receives their cup of porridge though.  

In other news, The 12 sponsored children (in the photo) who attend Mukono Boarding Primary School are getting ready to go back to school.  Florence (seen in the photo making porridge) is visiting each of them in their homes to make sure they are ready.  This includes testing them for Malaria, head lice and all sorts of other things.  This is really important as we have found in the past that they arrive at school and then fall sick.  Florence is also visiting the porridge schools to make sure they will be ready for the new term.

Thank you so much for your support and interest in our work, we couldn't do any of it without you.

With all best wishes for a fabulous 2020.

Alison

Florence cooking Porridge
Florence cooking Porridge

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