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  • alistairjp6

The pandemic resulted in all schools in Uganda closing in April. In November the government allowed schools to start reopening for certain year groups but only once certain conditions had been met by schools. These requirements included each school too have; a temperature gun to check each child, PPE supplies to enable safe hand washing and pupil care, a trained member of staff to monitor the children and staff and to manage any cases and a designated space where any suspected cases could be isolated.

For many schools these requirements were simply unaffordable.

The Link was able to help. The Headteachers of each school within the Link were given sufficient money to enable the requirements to be put in place and some year groups were able to start returning to school from the start of November.

The numbers of children allowed back has been very limited and generally it is the children with exams due allowed back. They have to be socially distanced and one positive outcome is that this has resulted in classes of 20 to 30 pupils as opposed to the normal 100+.

It is not certain when more pupils will be allowed too return.

A common problem for many of the schools when they reopened was that the children's families could not afford to provide food for them in school. The pandemic has had a devastating impact on family incomes. The Link was able to help by providing a grant to each school to help give the pupils a daily meal.

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  • alistairjp6

Despite a number of obstacles created by the pandemic, we completed the planting of 25,000 saplings in the Mukono district in Uganda. The saplings were grown from seed by Robert Ebalu, a local physics teacher, and his band of volunteers.

Robert's passion for the environment was his motivation. The efforts, time and labour by Robert and his team planted the seeds and nurtured them to the sapling stage when they were ready for planting in various locations.

The Link received requests for over 70,000 saplings, this is very positive for the future but the 25,000 sapling this year have been distributed to church groups, local community groups and schools. This has all been achieved for £900. Thank you to all the supporters who have made donations.

All the saplings have been planted (September 2020) and to help the various groups maintain the new trees the Link has invested in a motorbike for Robert to enable him to visit the various sites and give advice about tree maintenance.

Robert has now (November 2020) begun the planting of another 30,000 seeds which will be ready for distribution next summer. November is a good time too start the process being the start of the wet season in Uganda. Any donations to help continue this process would be gratefully received.

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Like a lot of other countries Uganda went into lockdown in mid march in an effort to limit the spread of the Coronavirus infection. The authorities ensured this lockdown was strongly adhered to and has been effective in keeping cases of infection very low. However for a population who largely reply on day to day earnings to buy food and support their families the consequences for many families has been severe. Many families struggled to access food despite a government programme to support the population.

In Mukono a local committee was established led by Fred Yiga ( a senior Ugandan policeman and United Nations official) to help source and distribute food in the area. The Guildford Mukono Link appealed to its supporters for financial aid to help the situation. The response has been fantastic, £6000 has been donated to a central relief fund managed by Fred Yiga. This committee used the funds to directly purchase 6000kg of maize flour and 3300kg of beans for the most needy in Mukono. The food was distributed by the Mukono Red Cross Society Team and members of the local defense unit. Priority was given to to the people the Link has always supported in various ways as well as other families that had not had previous links with Guildford. Further separate donations totalling £750 have been given to specific individuals to help them support members of the community they work with on a day to day basis.

The impact has been significant as recognised by the authorities as well as many messages of appreciation from different homesteads that received this food.

In his report to the Guildford Committee, Fred Yiga states: 'I wish to thank you for your generous support to the needy elderly people of Mukono and the young but special interest groups of people (e.g. the disabled, pregnant and lactating mothers, etc.), who benefited from your benevolent act'

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