My African adventure: ready to fly

by Sam Blackledge

IN a few hours I will travel about 4,000 miles from London to Uganda, ready for one of the more interesting assignments a local reporter can come across. Something tells me the frustration of the Monday morning rush hour commute through the Surrey countryside won’t seem quite so bad.

This is the culmination of a partnership between the Dorking Advertiser and East African Playgrounds, a charity which provides safe play facilities for children in Uganda. The editorial team at the paper – or more accurately our readers – have raised £1,600 for the charity, and I will spend the next two weeks reporting on how the money is being spent and helping out with a project.

I will join a group of other British volunteers at the BMK school near the village of Budoma, about 20km north of Iganga. The school was founded in 2003 by Banerya Musa Kasoone, a poor farmer who was given a cow by the Send a Cow charity. From the surplus milk he sold he started a small school, first using his late father’s house to teach adults and children basic literacy. Later he built some rudimentary classrooms and named the school after himself.

The Dorking Advertiser’s campaign has raised £1,600 for East African Playgrounds

The school now has over 800 children, Musa is the school director and along with 17 teachers he provides a nursery and a primary education for children aged 3 to 14.

The school receives no money for the Ugandan government. Families are charged to send their child to the school, but this is as little as £20 a year. Many parents cannot afford even this amount and either pay with some maize or default entirely. The school struggles to find sufficient money to pay its teachers and for essential school resources such as exercise and text books.

East African Playgrounds – and another Dorking-based charity, Well.Fare – support the school through fundraising, building projects and regular visits. Over the next two weeks I will try to update this site as much as possible – technology permitting – with news of how the school is progressing, interviews with volunteers and project leaders, and my own personal experience of reporting in Uganda.

You can still donate to the campaign. Click here to make an online donation, or e-mail editor@dorkingadvertiser.co.uk

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