The Chellaston Academy Uganda Project, now in its fifth year has purchased, renovated and now maintains an Orphanage in Kampala for 83 former street children. It was named after ‘John Dickens’ a former assistant head of the school who was ‘deputy leader’ of the first trip in 2007. The property is entirely owned by the school’s board of governors and is maintained each year by the fundraising undertaken by the school’s pupils and partner companies such as Deloitte, Clerical Medical and the Bank of Scotland. The students in this house are mainly orphans or former street children, some suffering from AIDS. It is run on a daily basis by 6 volunteers who give their lives to help these children survive the harsh reality of East African life. In 2010, Chellaston school spent over £10,000 adding essential extra water supplies, laying a brand new ‘flood prevention’ drainage system, bringing the outside of the building into line with health and safety regulations, closing off an open sewer, paying for an extra 2o children to go to school and paying off bills on water and electricity for the next twelve months. Much needed food supplies for the two months following the trip were also given. *In 2010, the academy also made a commitment to create and open a second orphanage in the Kasubi region of the city. This new building was renovated by three members of staff who travelled out to Uganda despite the dangerous political situation in July last year. Unfortunately, they could not be joined by any students as their trip had to be cancelled due to safeguarding concerns in connection with the July 11 th terrorist attacks in Kampala, but 7 adult volunteers flew out to support them. Around £5,000 was spent on kitting out the house, adding running water and electricity, as well as building a 7ft brick wall outside the house. Upon completion, the school officially handed over the purpose built orphanage to MYDEL, a local Non-Governmental Organisation who look after children in Uganda’s worst slum, Mengo. MYDEL now own and maintain the building independently and members of the Uganda Government and Royal Family were there to celebrate this momentous occasions for one of Uganda’s oldest volunteer organisations. Chellaston will continue to aide future redevelopment on this site but will not maintain the costs of the building or the daily welfare of the orphans.
The 2011 trip was the first trip to work with two teams on both sites. The Year 12 team worked at the John Dickens Home, developing a more efficient irrigation and draining system for water and rendering the security wall around the house. They all gave the house a very good repaint, part of the academy’s commitment to the upkeep of the building.
The Year 13 team worked at the Mydel House, the project they had been raising money for when there trip was so cruelly cut short. Despite a year off, their skills had not deserted them and they managed to build a brand new dorm for 18 girls (from scratch!!), knock down some very rotting and malaria ridden toilets, opened two new classrooms, and created an effective draining system by paving the entire front of the house. It was named after Ben Wright and Theo Stavri, the two site-managers on this trip. In 2012, another 24 students went out to represent the academy, working primarily at the MYDEL site on the academy’s most adventurous project to date; a two floor ‘Jubilee Building’ that would include first floor dormitories for boys and a brand new school on the second floor with four classrooms and a revamp of the main building to include an ICT and library facility.
The ‘blue army’ of 2012 were an incredibly well drilled unit, completing their assigned dormitory project with half a day to spare. They included modernised latrine toilets in each of the dormitories and built with steel frames for the first time in Chellaston’s time in Uganda. Dormitories were names after Matthew Keeley, Jon Cantrill, Ian Baggott and Danni Dow, who were four of the staff members that year. The 24 orange ‘Tiggers’ of 2013 then carried on the project and successfully built the classrooms that had been planned two years earlier. After completing them ahead of schedule, they went on to renovate the main building to include a brand new medical room (funded by and named after non-travelling member Imogen Jesson) and also put in a library and computer facility. State of the art Laptops were donated by Confideo (an Isle of Man based technology developer) and the classrooms were named after Lucy Wilson, Laura Colson (Chello Staff) as well as Pascal Lutaya and Sam Mushabe (two of the Senior members of the MYDEL executives).
The Tiggers, in their smart combination of orange and black, were probably the team that most raised the Chellaston profile in Uganda. Visits to the Royal Palace and appearances on television made them recognisable for many in Kampala. Their relationship with the ever-increasing Uganda Family we have there cemented the future of this trip for years to come. The links that we are building in Uganda are vast. We now have a reputation as an academy who meet their promises and maintain their work, year upon year. For the third year running, the school paid the running costs for the John Dickens Home in full, three quarters of which was raised by the students of the academies ‘Uganda Junior Committee’.
The 2014 team (nicknamed the Sapphire due to their bright blue shirts) were asked to complete the first of two rebuilding projects at the John Dickens Home. Despite the success of the Home, the building was a little run down and was struggling to meet the requirements of the modern Mlisada organisation. The Sapphires built two large new dormitories, a new medical room and a brand new and well equipped kitchen. They were an extremely strong team who built strong relationships with our friends in Uganda.
A new group of 26 students have been picked to represent the school in 2015. They have all given up their time to make this project work and the academy is constantly buzzing with fundraising events. Whilst in Kampala next July, they will finish the construction work on the second floor of the John Dickens Home, which will bring to a close the building work on that particular site.