Ann McCarthy first went to Ruhanga in south-west Uganda in 2005 when she was invited by her safari driver, Mr. Denis Aheirwe. He took her to see his compound – the family land given by his father – and she immediately saw its potential. Denis’s dream was to build a Guest House so tourists would stay awhile, and thus he could provide employment for his local village people. Denis and Ann talked over new ideas of how together they could even further help to raise the income levels of some of these impoverished farmers and the many orphans in the area. After returning to the UK, Ann did some fundraising, put in money of her own, and was out there again after a few months.
As with all successful community projects, events started moving briskly. More volunteers started to arrive at Uganda Lodge, which, together with some international fundraising, soon provided funds for the developing complex there today. After working with Denis for over 8 years, it is very easy to see that all the money donated goes directly towards these community projects. New classrooms have been built providing education for some 400 children together with a headmaster’s office, a school kitchen, a covered dining area, and two brick-built toilet blocks complete with septic tanks. Recently, two dormitories have been added to enable the eldest children to board and have extra time for their studies. At the volunteer accommodations, there are now over 20 rooms in the main house, and all have hot and cold showers, electric power points, and western style flushing toilets nearby. Dining facilities have been extended and a new kitchen has been built.
A water tank was built up in the hills by the source of a stream and this now provides piped water to three villages for the first time with access points near many of the homes. A new medical center has just been opened for the community to see to the village’s health care needs. and much more is planned for the future.
Already built and about to be opened is a bicycle repair workshop plus a sewing & tailoring facility. Current proposals for fundraising are geared towards providing sanitation and shower facilities for students, and then a vehicle repair workshop and also a coffee shop for passing motorists to stop for a short break.
Both the coffee shop and the vehicle servicing bays will do a double job. They will be run in such a way that they will teach students a trade while at the same time make a profit which will go towards the running costs of the medical center.