Bubaare School Project – Southern Uganda Rotarians working with Rotarians
1997 – “Help Dad I need a Rotarian out here”
It was in 1997 that Rotarian Robbie Middleton of the Rotary Club of Portlethen & District got a long distance phone call from his daughter Sandra who was spending a year in Uganda working at a school called Bubaare in the southern highlands. Sandra basically told her father that she was only 18 years old and could not solve the problems of the safe delivery of sponsorship and project money that people wanted to send into the area, but she had told the local people, “ I know a man who can”. The school took very poor children from the surrounding area and at that time there were 320 of them, many living at the school and with no other means of support. A few people in the UK with previous interest in the school had tried to send money to Uganda without success and Sandra, having seen a Rotary sign in Kabale, had the idea of inviting her dad out there to see what he could do.
In the aftermath of the terrible dictatorship of Idi Amin (during which Rotary had been banned) Robbie found out that it was very much the Rotarians who were helping to rebuild the rural areas and townships. Indeed, strapped to the gates of Government House in Kampala was a billboard sporting the Rotary “4 way test”. Rotary is not an organisation allowed in many dictatorships but within weeks of Amin being deposed Rotary was up again and running flat out. Robbie soon met up with the local Rotarians and established a bank account at Kabale, which could be serviced by the Rotarians there and money was transferred through a local bank in the UK. The Kabale Rotarians agreed to take responsibility for selection of needy pupils and to physically go to the school to interview each pupil on a per term basis and directly pay their school fees.
Upon his return to the UK Robbie pulled together a list of sponsors guaranteeing safe passage of their contributions to Uganda to this safe Rotary haven without any overhead cost other than bank transfer fee. The sponsors included several members of the Club, friends, Church organisations and indeed over a period, four other Rotary Clubs each entering a three year agreement to sponsor children through the school. Partly because of this scheme, which has annually supported up to s 32 children, the schools reputation grew and Bubaare School now supports the education of over 1,200 pupils, many of them orphans.
Photo By Lorraine Budge
The project has been a great success and because of the success of the scheme was expanded a couple of years later to allow the school for the first time to establish years 5 & 6, taking the best of the pupils from O level up to A level. Several have done well enough to gain Government sponsorship to University and the first pupil to be put through A levels, an orphan called Monday Erasmus, is now a married man who owns and runs his own Medical Centre in Kabale.
Since 1997 the project has successfully schooled and changed the lives of over 300 children in an expanded number of schools and colleges. These are all children who would otherwise have had no chance in life. Initially a private scheme, the project was officially adopted by the Portlethen Club several years ago and recently a very welcome relationship has also been established with the Aberdeen based Budge Trust run by Bill & Lorraine Budge and their two sons.
This smiling lad's name is "Bright"
The Budge Trust was facing a few problems in the Kabale area and it was again through Robbie’s intervention during a visit to Kabale two years ago that he introduced the Budge family to the simplicity of Rotary Club working with Rotary Club. Since then all of the Budge Trust work in the country is now overseen (practically and financially) by the Portlethen District & Kabale Rotary Clubs. Currently great things are happening in setting up a school and safe haven for the increasing number of “street children” who have been appearing in the streets of Kabale. Bill and Lorraine are both now active Honorary Members of the Portlethen Club and the ex street orphan “Saturday James” with whom they are working in establishing the street kid “Amazing Love” school, is to be President of the Kabale & District Rotary club next year,
Off the streets and in a safe haven.
And so it goes on !
Robbie’s final comment,” That trip to Uganda in 1997 changed who I am and certainly changed my concept of what is important in life. I had no idea that I was about to meet new friends through Rotary who would still be close, a major part of my life 17 years later, and that through simple co-operation between the two clubs we could have achieved so much”.
“My closest contact and friend is still Kabale farmer Rotarian James Ndomeirwe, the first person from the Kabale Club that I ever met and a man who has dedicated his life to the Rotary cause in rebuilding the area. Over the period James has received sseveral Paul Harris Fellowships and is currently Assistant District Governor for East Africa District 9211.