St James Junior School and Orphan Care,
Nakakabala village, UGANDA
By Gerry Hambridge
I started spending time as a volunteer in Uganda in 2002 living and working at Maria’s Care Children’s Home, founded by Maria Maw and for the past seven years I have been helping to establish a new primary school in the village of Nakakabala in Kamuli District.
I have known James Mutayaba, the Head Teacher, for many years as his daughter Moureen was one of the first teachers I worked with in Uganda and she and her family have become great friends. James returned home to his village in 2008 after working away for some years and found that many of the children were still not getting an education as the nearest government school was too far for them to walk from their homes. James, a qualified teacher with 40 years experience in primary and secondary education and teacher training, decided to set up a school at his home. The first lessons were given to a small number of children in the shade of two mango trees followed by a rough open-sided thatched classroom.
At first conditions were basic and many villagers needed to be convinced that education was good for their children. Since then the school has attracted a gradual flow of children and now has 310 children between the ages of 5 and 14 on the register, 26 of these are orphans living on the premises. The villagers of Nakakabala have supported the school and helped its growth in many ways, though all the families are very poor. The school is now registered with the Ministry of Education and has regular inspections. The school is surrounded by fertile swampland that James farms with the help of the older children and which provides crops to enable James to feed the orphans and give every child attending the school a cooked meal each day.
What we have achieved so far:
I am proud that I and my supporters have provided the school with the material assistance but the success of the school mostly comes down to the dedication of James and his staff and the hard work and enthusiasm of the children who know the value of the education they have been offered at St James.
Through my personal fund-raising and support from my family, friends and many other people including help from several schools and organisations in Poynton, Stockport and Macclesfield, St James has been provided with
* Some desks, books, teaching aids, footballs.
* A brick built ‘resource centre’ where the educational equipment can be kept safe from the weather and which serves as the Library.
*Block of four latrines
*Twin room nursery block
* A twin room office block to accommodate the head teachers and office staff.
* A brick built block, “Hambridge Hall”, which provides four classrooms and can be converted to an examination hall, a requirement if the children are to be able to take the exams for their Primary Leavers Certificate and have a chance of going on to secondary education provided by the Ugandan government.
* Goat, pig and poultry projects to raise money for the school making it more and more self-sufficient which is our ultimate aim. The poultry project also provides eggs which give the orphans a regular source of protein, and any surplus can be sold or exchanged for food and medical treatment for the children.
* Solar lighting so that the oldest pupils can do personal study in the evenings to prepare for their exams. This facility will not only be good for the school but also enable the local people to use the buildings for community meetings.
* Beds and mosquito nets for the orphans and mosquito nets for all 300 children at the school. My ambition is to eventually provide every young child and expectant mum in the area with a mosquito net as Malaria is still by far the biggest killer of these two groups in Uganda. A gift of one mosquito net often protects several children, sometimes even a whole family as they share a bed or sleeping mat.
* Rainwater harvester
* Lightening conductors