Set up in 2005, The Uganda Link supports a secondary school in Ibanda, South-Western Uganda, named Nyakatukura Memorial Secondary School. Nyakatukura School (NMS) was set up by the Church of Uganda to provide secondary education to poor and orphaned children.
The local church donated five acres of rough farmland on which the school has been able to develop. When Dean Close first visited Nyakatukura in 2005, the children were sleeping on the floor, they had to walk 30mins to a natural borehole to collect water and there was no electricity. Furthermore, lessons took place under a mango tree on makeshift benches.
Thanks to the Dean Close community, Nyakatukura has evolved from its humble beginnings to become a blossoming secondary school with over 400 students. The school now has ten fully equipped classrooms, girls’ and boys’ dormitories, a library, an examination hall and solar electricity, as well as water harvesters and a water bore hole.
A Science Laboratory Block is nearing completion, and in July 2017 an electricity generator was installed.
Over the years a strong relationship has formed between two schools which is celebrated by a plaque in Nyakatukura’s Main Office: ‘Dean Close and Nyakatukura Memorial School – Friends Forever’.
Since the Uganda Link was set up, we have raised thousands of pounds for Nyakatukura and supported hundreds of children through their education. However, the aim of the partnership has always been to build relationships, not just buildings. The Uganda Link is founded on friendship.
PROJECTS TO DATE:
- Built water pipes for the school (2005)
- Paid for cement floors (2005)
- Built a boarding house to accommodate boarding staff (2006)
- Built two classrooms (2007)
- Built two dormitories named Fawley and Shelburne (2009)
- Set up the Reaching Orphans for Care Sponsorship Programme (2010)
- Refurbished the boys’ dormitory (2011)
- Built a new water tank to avoid the long walk (2011)
- Contributed towards the new kitchen and main hall (2013)
- Contributed towards the new two-storey Science Laboratory Block (2015)
- Built a water bore hole for efficient water access (2016)
- Installed an electricity generator for permanent electricity (2017)
- Donated microscopes and a projector to Science Department (2017)
- Donated Science Equipment (2018)
Dean Close makes a biennial trip to Uganda to foster this unique relationship. Staff and pupils alike engage in teaching lessons and sharing resources from books to bags, from sports kit to keyboards. There is often a closely contested inter-school sports tournament and a chance to interact and swap stories. The experience is hugely beneficial and the sheer vibrancy of the Ugandan culture and the warmth and hospitality of the people are extraordinary.
Sadly, the planned July 2019 trip was cancelled due to an isolated outbreak of the ebola virus into Uganda across the border from the Democratic Republic of Congo. There have been no further outbreaks and the next visit will continue the biennial cycle in July 2021. However, this year we hope to be visited by representatives from our link school, Nyakatukura, and the local town community of Ibanda.
UGANDA TOUR 2017: FROM PUPIL GRACE STARLING’S PERSPECTIVE
In July 2017, I and a group of fellow Sixth Form pupils and members of staff went to Uganda to visit our link school, Nyakatakura, and to experience the country. After landing at Entebbe airport, we spent a day at Speke Resort preparing our tour song. We chose the tune of ‘House of Gold’ played on three ukuleles, with our own lyrics over the top.
The next day we drove to Nyakatakura, which was to be our base for the week. We were shown around the school and invited into their nightly fellowship praise circle for the first time, an event which was to become a regular feature for most of the group. The next morning, we woke early for their Sunday service, and we were officially introduced to the whole school community, singing at a volume even the Dale and Tower boys could not hope to reach. Throughout that week, we attended classes at Nyakatakura and went on day trips to three local primary schools at Ibanda, Bufunda and Nyakatakura primary; along with an orphanage for babies under three. We were awed at the excitement and enthusiasm the kids showed for our games and activities. The week also featured highlights of a sunrise walk up a nearby hill, painting a tree for all future Dean Close visitors to add to, and actually playing the drums in the evening fellowship.
The second half of the trip started with an evening safari at Mweya Lodge, where we saw the many animals Uganda has to offer. The next day we went on both a sunrise and river safari and had a chance to photograph everything we wanted to see, including elephants, hippos, a leopard and a whole array of birds. Finally, we returned again to Speke to reacclimatise and break up the travelling and then set off back home to Dean Close, all of us feeling humbled to have experienced such an extraordinary opportunity.