As a small charity, we’re incredibly proud of all of the partnerships that we’ve developed since registering with The Charity Commission in February 2015. The projects that we’ve delivered in Uganda over the past twenty months have been made possible by the hard work, generosity and expertise of all of our partners, without whom our work would not be possible.
Whilst we’re thankful to all of our partners in equal measure for their continued support, we will be forever grateful to The Rotary Club for believing in us before we really got started. During the Christmas period in 2014, John Jameson invited Martin and I to deliver a short presentation to The Rotary Club of Chorley Astley, after hearing about our ideas for The Zuri Project through Martin’s dad.
We were treated to a very warm welcome at the club, invited to join the members for a dinner and talk about our dreams and aspirations for The Zuri Project. Martin and I delivered a presentation that lacked cohesion and focus, but was filled with passion for our work and a desire to gain the support of the Rotarians, by sharing our experiences in Uganda over the previous few years and our ambitions of collaborating with local NGOs to deliver locally led projects.
In the weeks that followed the presentation, we officially registered as a charity in the UK, and The Rotary Club of Chorley Astley very generously agreed to fund our first project — the construction of a water tank at Kishunju Primary School. Their grant meant so much more to us than a mere donation; it gave us confidence and belief that our plans and aspirations could work, and that belief encouraged us to think big and start to broaden our horizons as a newly registered charity.
(Water tank at Kishunju Primary School thanks to funding from Rotary Club of Chorley Astley)
Without a doubt, the support from The Rotary Club, and John Jameson in particular, gave us the confidence to approach new organisations and try new things. Since first meeting John, we have received unconditional support from the Rotary Club of Chorley Astley, as well as a number of incredibly generous grants that have allowed us to buy new scholastic materials for Kishunju Primary School and kick start a number of agricultural and sports projects across the community of Kihembe.
(New desks at Kishunju PS thanks to Rotary Club of Chorley Astley)
Before I left for my fourth trip to Uganda in December of last year, I was introduced to Keith McDavid of The Rotary Club of Knowle and Dorridge. Much like John was a few months earlier, Keith was really keen to hear more about our work and was passionate about supporting our projects in Uganda. He arranged for 5,000 pencils to be shipped to Uganda in the Spring of 2016, which helped enormously with our education incentive project at Kishunju. When I returned to the UK in August, I was invited by Keith to deliver a presentation to The Rotary Club of Knowle and Dorridge.
(5000 pencils arriving in Uganda thanks to Rotary Club of Knowle and Dorridge)
This time, my presentation was a lot more polished, direct and to the point. But it certainly didn’t lack passion either. After a year and a half of Rotarian support, we have been able to refine our approach and we have very clear objectives and organisational priorities. Working with five Ugandan and eleven international partners, we have delivered fourteen locally led development projects in Kihembe, each of which focus on income generation and sustainability in order to holistically improve community wellbeing.
Going forward, we’re absolutely thrilled that Rotary are going to be part of our journey. Our charity is run solely by volunteers, and we want to keep it that way. Over the next year, we are collaborating with a number of Ugandan NGOs to build the first secondary school in Kihembe. This is a huge project for us — our biggest yet. But knowing that we have the support of two Rotary Clubs in the UK, and all of our other partners for that matter, makes it a little less daunting, and a little more exciting.
Here’s to the future.