Ukerewe Visit

Rotary's Helping Hand in Tanzania


Class sizes of over 200, schools without access to water or toilets, 180 bed hospital with three doctors, no accident and emergency department, labour ward with no incubators, theatre with broken autoclaves – does this sound credible? 

This is what we saw on the island of Ukerewe from where we’ve just come back after a two-week hands on project and want to share our story with you.  

Ukerewe District comprises of 38 islands in Lake Victoria, of which 15 are permanently inhabited. There is a twice daily ferry connecting Ukerewe with mainland Tanzania - the journey takes 3.5 hours. There are smaller ferries between some islands, but others are reachable only by canoes.

The absence of internet and international telephone connection was a blessing; it allowed us to talk to each other and to others. We’d no exposure to the media either!

Ukerewe District has a population of 350,000 - most are subsistence farmers or fishermen. The per capita income in the country is $1 per day; on Ukerewe it is half that. The island has 1 hospital with 180 beds, 3 doctors and has very limited facilities. 

Every month over 350 babies are born in the hospital - the medics told us that there are many preventable deaths due to lack of a premature baby unit. We saw a premature baby in a normal bed almost certainly unlikely to survive. Another child was born with jaundice but there was no scope of phototherapy. 

Despite poor facilities the staff are doing amazing work. They have high clinical skills and work long hours, some looked burnt out. The Hospital authorities appealed for help such as supply of vital equipment, training, provision of motor bike ambulances etc.

We were overwhelmed by the warmth and affection of the people - those in authority as well as those we met in the streets. We were invited to attend a District Council meeting which started with ‘Amazing Grace’.

Our main focus was a feeding programme funded by Rotary in 7 schools.  In each school there was an afterschool environment club of 30 who received training in good farming techniques and have put that into practice to grow maize, sorghum and vegetables. All schools were using the crops to feed the kids, usually three times a week, during the harvest season. Some schools also sold vegetables to supplement the feeding. 

Almost all schools have over 1,000 pupils, classes of 200, virtually no learning facilities, no IT or sport; most lack toilets and have no access to water. The feeding programme is a great success, although it only provides food for limited days. One Headmaster told us that without this programme the pupils will have no food to eat during the day and would be lucky to have something to eat when they got home in the evening. 

Supplying 20 sewing machines, introducing re-usable sanitary pads, organising a school quiz and reviewing the many things we have done before kept us busy and well connected with the community. Many lacked basic amenities and have huge financial and health problems such as malaria, high maternal deaths and child mortality. But they are kind, generous and warm - they always welcomed us with board smiles and trust. We felt blessed.

We felt enriched by this visit but also challenged at the gross inequalities in the world. We were delighted that Rotary was making a difference to lives in this remote part of Africa. 

We are already planning our next visit and projects. We hope that we would have the chance to share our hopes and aspirations with you – please contact me for a presentation. 

John Philip

Newbury Rotary Club

07889 388038

John PhilipContact John Philip about this page:

(ALL fields required)

(If you are a Rotarian, please name your club.)

Related pages...

Mencap Christmas Party 2019

more Loads of fun had by all at this annual event. Click on the "Details" button for more pictures.

Barge Week 2019

more Sun shining, birds singing, what more could you ask for...

Community Annual Sponsored Walk

more Raise funds for your own charity on Sunday 13th May 2018. Start time between 11 am and 12 pm.

Know Your Blood Pressure Pop-up Clinic 2018

more Pop in to the Town Hall between 8:45 and 13:00 on Saturday 14th April for a free Blood Pressure check.

Young Carers Christmas Party 2017

more Food, music, presents, who could ask for more!

Kids Out 2017

more A day out to Marwell Zoo.

I look like a captain, I wear the captain's hat, therefore I must be the captain. <br/>Slight problem, I'm left handed.

A week on the barge - 2017

more Great fun had by all who participated

Releasing the laughter and emotions at Paultons Park!

2016 Kids Day Out

more Newbury Rotarians enjoy a fun day out at Paultons Park with local children from Castle School. Difficult to say who enjoys it more!

Sunday May 8th, Bucklebury

2016 Rotary Annual Charity Walk

more A fully marshalled route for charities and community groups to raise funds for their own causes.

Saturday 23 April, Newbury Town Hall

Know Your Blood Pressure Pop-up Clinic

more A one day drop in clinic to get your blood pressure checked.

Newbury Rotary Bookplate

Child Literacy Projects

more Supporting Literacy in local Primary Schools

West Berkshire Young Carers Christmas Party

more .

Rotarian Eddie Webb in a sea of  NWN Over 80's Xmas parcels

Newbury Weekly News Over 80's Parcel Distribution

more The Newbury Weekly News Parcel Fund is another great success. Newbury Rotarians rattled tins outside Sainsbury's on November 29th to collect funds and helped to distribute the parcels on December 12th.

Switching on Newbury Xmas Lights

more Newbury Rotarians will be marshalling the Christmas parade and the crowds in the Market Place for the switching on of the 2015 Christmas Lights

Rotarians and guests from Webcas enjoying a day out on the Kennet and Avon canal

2015 Community Barge Trips

more Each year Newbury Rotary charters the Rebecca Barge for 7 days from the Bruce Trust to host day trips for local community groups

Newbury Weekly News' Over 80's Christmas Parcel Fund Collection

Newbury Weekly News Over 80's Parcel Fund Collection at Sainsbury's

more The organisation of the Newbury Weekly News Parcel Fund is already in full swing. Newbury Rotarians will be rattling tins outside Sainsbury's on November 29th to collect funds as well as helping to distribute the parcels on December 12th.

Kids Out 2015

more The 2015 Kids Out Trip to Paulton's Park on June 10th

Walkers supporting MND UK.

Charity Walk 2015

more Over 60 walkers enjoyed a 5 or 7 mile walk around the beautiful "Middleton" countryside of Bucklebury raising over £2000 for their charities and community groups.

2nd Newbury Cub Scouts salute their fun day out on the Kennet and Avon Canal

2014 Barge Trips for Newbury Community Groups

more Newbury Rotary Club skippers and crews The Rebecca Barge from The Bruce Trust for a week in September giving a variety of local charity support groups and their carers a lovely day out on the Kennet and Avon Canal.

Stroke Association

Know Your Blood Pressure Pop-up Clinic

more Newbury Rotary organised a Know Your Blood Pressure pop-up clinic on Saturday 18th April 2014 for Stroke Awareness Day - Newbury Town Hall: 9:30am - 1:30pm.

May 11th Rotary Sponsored Walk

Sponsored walk 2014

more .

1st Nov 7:30pm. Newbury Rotarians will be marshalling. See you there!

Newbury Lions Firework Display

more Nov 1st 2014. Newbury Racecourse. Display starts at 7:30pm Newbury Rotary Club will be supporting this initiative by providing marshals to assist the Lions Club.

Kids Out annual trip to Paultons Park: June 10th 2015

Community Service Projects

more Newbury Rotary organised a "Kids Out" trip to Paultons Park for children from our local Castle School, and their teachers on June 11th 2014.

Life Education Thames Valley mobile classroom

Life Education Centres Thames Valley

more Life Education Thames Valley is supported by Newbury Rotary Club through donations and providing volunteer resources.

back to page above this...

Community Service

back Newbury Rotary Club supports and organises a variety of community activities for all ages.