Banunule School Support Group

Annual Report 2015

A Reflection by Richard Wepukulu

 

“Banunule Primary School was a home away from home during my primary level education. It is the place where I found real love and care. For children who grow up like I did, Banunule offers a peaceful place to learn and be with others who know the kinds of challenges you’re passing through. We may not have much in earthly terms, but we are rich in love and knowledge. Plus, we never go hungry. In 2015 things here began to change. People around started to worry about the future of the School. I had no ideas that the changes coming to Banunule were going to help make our future so bright. I am very grateful that Terra Nova Academy has come up to be with Banunule especially during this difficult time. My prayer is that our doors will always be open to the students of this community to create opportunities for learning just as they were opened for me. Thank you to all who give to the work happening here. I cannot say that enough.”

Richard was a student at Banunule until 2006.  Like many alumni of the School, Richard wanted to say thank you for all that Banunule did for him during his primary school years.  In 2015 he spent time helping some of the School’s present youngsters with their studies. His thoughts reflect those of so many of his contemporaries, who, as orphans, appreciate the opportunities that Banunule has given them in life.

2015 was a year of significant change for Banunule.  Funding the School has always been a challenge for the faithful volunteers of the BSSG and the Directors of the School in Kampala. For some time discussions have been taking place concerning the long-term future of Banunule.  The School itself is thriving, the academic results, the sporting prowess, and the opportunities given to children who would not have had the chance to go to school, are remarkable. But then there was an added blow when Vanessa the Head Teacher left after 10 years of service to the School.

There was never a doubt that the School must survive and continue to give children hope for the future, but there were questions over its financial security and it was going to be difficult to find a replacement for Vanessa.  Then by chance we discovered Alisha Damron-Seruyange, an American lady who was running a small school in Kampala.  At the time Alisha’s school, Terra Nova Academy, had just two nursery classes and the first two primary school classes. In time she was planning to add Primary 3 through to Primary 7 to complete the primary school.

Terra Nova is an impressive school with high standards in teaching and learning, from which Banunule could benefit, whilst Terra Nova could gain much from Banunule’s systems of accounting and reporting. Terra Nova is a clean, organised and joyful place of education.  Many of the school’s principles including the admissions criteria are the same as at Banunule, even the quality of food, the class sizes, the hours of the school day and the holistic approach to education.  The two schools perfectly complement each other. Alisha’s commitment to giving hope to disadvantaged children is wholehearted.  Financially, Alisha will in time have a greater fund-raising capacity than the BSSG with funding being provided by churches in the United States and some key people in America who advocate for them and market all that Terra Nova does.

After much debate, it was decided to merge the two schools over a period of 5 years, with Alisha as the Head Teacher, on an unpaid voluntary basis.  At the beginning of this year, the merger plan was set in motion and Alisha was appointed Head Teacher to run both schools.  This year and until 2020 BSSG will reduce its funding annually as Alisha takes financial responsibility for one extra Banunule class each year until the merger is complete. The process will be a slow and guided one.  Maura, Chair of the BSSG Board of Trustees, will continue to have a seat on the Banunule School Board, and the Chair of the Banunule Board of Directors, Claire Gibson, will also continue to oversee the merger and represent Banunule. Once again, we thank all our supporters for their support during 2015.  We were blessed with some outstandingly generous individual donations, and the steady income from our regular staunch supporters helps us to predict our level of giving to the School.

I would like to mention once again some of the help we have received from school children.  Each year, the British International School of Brussels, a small primary school, fund-raises for Banunule.  In 2015, as in the previous year, the children collected small change over a period of time, and then took the coins to the bank to deposit in the BSSG account.  The sum raised was an amazing €739.  On behalf of the children of Banunule we thank you for your thought and commitment to helping other less fortunate children.

We also thank Heathside School in Surrey, who in 2014 hosted the Banunule Girls Tag Rugby team during their visit to the UK.  Heathside had two fund-raising events in 2015, one of which was a sponsored walk.  The total raised was £1,423.  Thank you Heathside School.

Our grateful thanks go to St Paul’s Church Mission Interest Group in Brussels for their ongoing support and to the St Paul’s Church and the Gingerbread Club for their valuable contributions.

The Burns Night Supper in Brussels organised once again by BSSG Fund-Raising Team member Alisdair Harrison, raised a good amount and is a very popular event each year.  Subsequently, Alisdair organised a visit to a Scottish distillery which raised a significant amount of money.

Another annual event, organised by Helge Eiler, another BSSG member, was the highly popular Brussels 20 kilometre Road Race.  As in previous years, a magnificent sum was raised.  Well done Helge and the runners.

Also in Brussels, the Annual Quiz Night was organised by the BSSG Fund-Raising Team.  People love a Quiz Night and this was as popular as ever.  Our thanks go to the Headmaster of the British Primary School for allowing us to use the school for the event, at no cost.

A new event in 2015 was a Ceilidh/Burns Supper, held in the small Hampshire village of King’s Somborne.  This was a resounding success – not only did it raise money for the School but it was also very good for the village.  The music, the setting and the food were all first class, and thanks go to BSSG member Lynne Duncan whose idea it was, to our BSSG volunteer chef Igor Obrastsoff-Rutinsky, and to all the others who helped to make this such a great evening.  Following this, Lynne organised a successful Easter Raffle.

I would like to say a very special thank you to José Spearing, a member of our Fund-Raising Team in Brussels, for her personal contributions throughout 2015.  With her niece and friend, José visited Banunule in March, and was much impressed by what she saw.  On her return, she organised a garden party and also decided to auction some items to see if she could raise some ‘cash in the attic’.  The story of the stool on which a reserve of £150 was placed was told to the orphans many times last year. The stool raised £2,500 and the auctioneer offered not to charge commission since the money was being raised for Banunule!  In the course of the year José raised a magnificent £6,883 for our orphans.

Finally, I would like to offer our thanks once again to Daniel Nickless for selflessly offering his time to act as the BSSG Webmaster.

 

It has been a significant and memorable year for Banunule.  The trustees and members of the BSSG are excited about the future of Banunule and the positive changes that are forecast.  However, it is vital at this stage to ensure a smooth transition.  There are many extra costs involved during the process.  For example, lawyers have to be instructed and new uniforms purchased.  Even with a phased transition we will need to maintain a good level of funding until the merger is complete.

Please continue to give generously. Banunule still needs your help. Perhaps you could also help by raising some ‘cash in the attic’, or organising a Quiz Night.  You would have a lot of fun and gain new friends at the same time as knowing that you were helping some of the poorest children in Uganda.

On behalf of the BSSG and the children and staff of Banunule, thank you.

Maura Jeffrey (Banunule School Support Group) February 2016

 

Should you wish to support Banunule School, please donate to:

BELGIUM: KBC Tervuren Account: 734-0201311-45 for Banunule School Support Group

From abroad: IBAN BE44 7340 2013 1145 BIC: KREDBEBB

 

UK: Lloyds Bank, Andover, Sort code: 30-90-21 Account: 03509755 for Banunule School Support Group

 

The BSSG is a registered UK charity, number 1121540 www.thebssg.org.uk