Training to lift young Ugandans out of poverty


I've just returned once again from a very hot and sticky visit to Uganda.

Many of you will remember the attached picture in my September 2015 update when I mentioned that my six year old grand daughter Mya was keen to help the African children by collecting clothes for me to take to Siriba on my next visit.

Mission accomplished! Thank you Mya for helping these lovely little children so far away from your home. Stella and Wahab had decided to name their first born after Mya as she arrived during one of my previous visits. Look at the happy faces as they all can’t wait for their new clothes. Here also is mum Stella checking the shoe size.

This simple exercise has reminded me that a very small amount of effort can bring much pleasure to many people and give help to those who really need it. Mya is now getting prepared with the next box, now I really will have to check my baggage allowance very carefully!

Christmas is here again, it seems only yesterday that we put the decorations away!

My friends in Siriba, Uganda have no idea what an English Christmas is like. But have we gone right off the rails?

My friends send me emails and despite the cost, often phone me with their Christmas greetings. It means so much to them that we are happy at this very special time. For them, family unity is paramount. They hear that I have been Christmas shopping and have sent them basic clothes for their little children; the excitement is unbelieveable!

Yet here, many of our large stores, run by "pillars of society” have been selling Christmas extravaganza since September, so that we, should we choose, can get into the modern spirit!!!

In remote parts of Uganda, and indeed many other parts of this troubled world, there will be no glitter or extravagance. There will be the simplest of presents, if any at all. Not surprisingly, as last week and the week before, churches will be full. There is no English Heritage to fix the roof, it just gets done by the congregation!

To these people it is wonderful for them to know that Christ Jesus was born in a stable and died on the cross to redeem mankind, to save us all from our sins because of His love for us.

Have we forgotten this as we remember supermarkets full of glitter in September? Think of our friends at the vocational training centre, Siriba, Kiryadongo District.

Let us pray that the real spirit of Christmas can fully unite us.

Mya with her clothes collection box
Mya with her clothes collection box

Having focussed on the young people of the vocational training centre in Siriba for previous updates, I thought this time that I would tell you a little of what goes on here in the UK.

I am lucky to have six grandchildren ranging from two years to seven years old. They all live close to our home within their own settled family environments. Mya, aged six, took part in a project on Africa at her school last term. Since this she has shown a keen interest in my photographs of the people of Siriba. I have taken over 2000 during my visits - good, bad and ugly!

Mya has noticed that most of the children of her age are very poorly dressed and has decided to do her bit to help. During one of the few sunny days we had during the school summer holidays, I showed Mya some of the photographs again. She is noticing much more now than she did before the school project.

We went to a nearby sunflower field last week as she has decided that she wants to help many of the young children to have some better clothes.She has decorated her clothes collection box and is determined to fill it before I go to Siriba again. She is promising shoes, shorts, dresses and really anything else decent that she can find!

You may wonder what this has to do with a vocational training centre? Well these people need all the help we can give them and something decent to wear makes the little ones feel ten feet tall!

So watch out British Airways, it looks as though you will have to be generous again and give us another double baggage allowance!

Bosco making a Bed in his rented Workshop
Bosco making a Bed in his rented Workshop

There is a great need for the vocational training centre (vtc) at Siriba as so many of the young people in this area have no skills or training in anything at all and so the future is very bleak.

I have been to the town of Bweyale some 2km away to talk to some of the young people who had successfully found work. Not surprisingly, most local people are aware of the activities of the vtc and were able to direct me to former students who have now found work. I will briefly describe just two of them:

Bosco is aged 27 and started his own joinery business some two years after a full time course at the vtc. Although he is busy he is finding it difficult to earn enough to pay himself a modest wage after paying rent for his workshop. He is planning to go into partnership in order to share overheads and promote himself.

Then there is Susan, a 28 year old single mother. She also took a full time course and is now self employed doing tailoring jobs within the local community. She usually earns £1 per day and is always smiling! She pays rent for her sewing machine as she has been unable to save the £50 necessary to buy a second hand one.

Without our help these young people would simply not have a job at all. So the vtc not only helps the local economy but it also greatly increases the self esteem of many young people like Bosco and Susan. We are grateful for your ongoing support.

Susan working at Bweyale market for 1 per day
Susan working at Bweyale market for 1 per day
Mechanics students examine part of an Engine
Mechanics students examine part of an Engine

It seems incredible that it is approaching five months since I left Siriba. Being back at home is not quite the same as being with the people on the ground and communications by text and email are not always as efficient as we would like.

However we know that the Principal, Josie Abong, has with some help, managed to deliver a good number of promotional leaflets into the depths of some of the surrounding villages. The new term opened in January and partly as a result of all the hard work the numbers of students has risen to around thirty. Many of these are really underprivileged and so this is rewarding for the vocational training centre as well for us here at home.

We are hoping that the centre will go from strength to strength especially now that Bishop George Kasangaki has returned from a long trip to the USA, with we hope some innovative ideas!

Fund raising here continues and we hope soon to be in a position to fund some individual projects as and when the need arises.

Jobs after training - success!
Jobs after training - success!

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Location: MONMOUTH, MONMOUTHSHIRE - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
David Steiner
Executive Officer
Monmouth, Monmouthshire United Kingdom

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