Success stories from Mubende

Abingdon Vesper Rotarians have visited their projects in Uganda and celebrated 25 years supporting the region

Maya Smeulders, Abingdon Vesper Rotary, 1st June 2022

Maya and Paul Smeulders from Abingdon Vesper Rotary have recently visited the projects supported by the club in the Mubende district of Uganda. The club’s support of the area started 25 years ago and it continues to grow today. Maya reports on the visit, shares her photos, and describes the many successes to date but also the need for continued development.

Latest facts and figures on Abingdon Vesper's Agricultural Microcredit Scheme:

  • 135 Agricultural Microcredit Groups since 2007
  • 4000 farmers given training in organic agriculture, saving/lending and bookkeeping
  • 25,000 family members benefitting, too
  • 426 Million Ugandan Shillings given out in interest free 3-year loans to farmer groups (~ £90,000-£100,000 varying acc. to exchange rates) used for affordable loans to members
  • bad debts less than 3%
  • microcredit fund recycled multiple times
  • 30 Key Farmer Trainers trained at Agricultural College in Uganda
  • resulting in Groups having their own loan pool after repayment of the loan principal
  • individual farmers acquiring knowhow and higher income which enables them to buy land, farm animals,
  • farm and home improvements, means of transport, education, health and many other things
  • Microcredit is truely the sustainable way out of poverty

In addition, we visited 10 "Learning 4 Life" village primary schools and lots of others near the microcredit groups. We have just completed building 12 new classrooms with big rainwater harvesting tanks at two remote community schools and are currently converting an old church into a Nursery School and Office Block for another school. Basic education in remote rural areas is in crisis. They are too far away from goverment schools and the small private schools that existed before COVID have all collapsed due to the two-year long school lockdown. Parents are struggling to set up new community schools, but get no support from the government at all. 

In the 12 years I have been going to Uganda I have not heard of a single new government school being opened despite the population having increased a lot. Parents wanting to set up a school have to pay for everything, buildings, teachers, books and they have to fulfill certain requirements to obtain a license. These people are subsistence farmers, often illiterate, and have liitle cash, but they are desperate to give their children education.

I have added some pictures of two of such schools, at Kalagala and at Kyampisi, both more than 12 miles away from existing schools. That is too far for small children to reach on foot (mostly barefoot).

In both cases the church is allowing the parents to put up a school near the church. At Kalagala the old church was used as a school, but is now too dangerous to enter and the parents have cobbled together some planks to form "open plan" classrooms. In Kyampisei the situation is even worse: as the parents were building wattle and mud classrooms the roof was blown off by strong winds. Even the church next to it has lost part of its roof. 

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