Report for 2013

by | Feb 4, 2014

In 2013 ‘Friends’ was been able to not only maintain the existing support given to the project in 2012, but to extend it, improving the welfare of the children, and the working conditions for our staff. This was only possible because of the generosity of our relatively small group of Friends – we are now about fifty in number – and the commitment of a small number who have applied themselves to fundraising. The Trustees would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to all who have sponsored children or supported other aspects of the work in 2013. You have made a real difference in the lives of some of the poorest people in Uganda.

2013 saw three significant developments at the project

The provision of fuel briquette making equipment. We had been made aware by Emily (Project Director) that wood for the purpose of cooking was becoming increasingly expensive as the government is trying to clamp down on deforestation. It was suggested that we might consider purchasing briquette making equipment. This would allow the women of the project to mix readily available and sustainable materials to produce briquettes that could be used for the school’s own needs in food preparation, and in due course perhaps provide an opportunity to make a profit in the community. There would also be another, not insignificant benefit, and that would be Mama Santa the cook would have a much safer and healthier environment in which to work. When Trustee, Matt Brearley, and his family visited the project in October he saw the equipment in operation and confirmed the improvements had been delivered. In addition, there has been a significant saving in fuel costs and that has meant that despite other costs rising, the feeding of the children is still being done within the 2012 budget.

Extension of the Feeding Programme into the school holidays. Being very much aware over the past years of how well the feeding programme has been regarded by the staff and parents at the project, and not least, how it has benefitted the children, we made the decision this year to extend feeding into the holidays. Emily has reported that this move has been gratefully appreciated by the parents. During the holiday periods it is mostly the younger children who have come into school for feeding, as the older children are more often than not required to work to support their families. Of all that we Friends have achieved through the project, the Trustees feel that the feeding of the children has been the aspect of the work that has brought the most immediate benefit to the children and community.

Improving staff wages. The Trustees decided that that after the children, our staff’s welfare should be next on our list of priorities. We felt that just because our members of staff are employed by a charity, that should not be a reason to pay them less. We learnt that the plight of some of our staff was little better than that of the people in the community that the project serves. The wages we had been paying since we took over the responsibility in 2011 had been considerably below comparable rates in the Ugandan State system, and had further been eroded by steep inflation in 2010/11. We therefore took the decision to make an immediate increase of 20% this year in staff wages and resolve to keep the issue under review, with the intention of bringing them into line with the State average in due course if our means allow.

A review of Ray of Hope’s child protection policy was carried out when Matt (Trustee) and Nicola Brearley visited the project in October. Nicola, who is a teacher, has experience of drafting and implementing child protection policies here in the UK, and shared that experience with Emily and her staff.
Nicola reported that Ray of Hope’s policy was robust, but what was lacking was any understanding concerning ‘safeguarding’, that is, a policy of investigating the motives and establishing the identity of any visitors/helpers who come to the project. Such a policy was put in place before Nicola left. We now feel that the children of Ray of Hope School are as safe as we can make them and that all the adults entrusted with their care are fully aware of their responsibilities.

Plans for 2014

Building work at Ray of Hope School. It had been apparent from the outset that the building that is Ray of Hope School was deficient in a number of ways. Chief amongst its deficiencies is the lack of sanitary toilets. The existing pit toilets are wholly insufficient for the number of pupils, and were in any case not functioning properly due to the high water table. The second priority on the list is the need for a kitchen and food preparation building, as the current rustic set up is both dangerous and unhealthy for our staff and pupils. Other work on Emily’s wish list includes the development of an existing outhouse into a room that could be used by the women for their craft work, as well as doubling as a room that could be used to train older students in practical skills. As for the school building itself, the removal of a couple of walls would enlarge two classrooms, and there are problems with damp on the ground floor that need to be addressed. The Trustees have already begun to address these issues and hope to have work commence during the school summer holidays. The funding is already in place.

Staff wages. We plan to build on action taken last year to make sure that the wages we pay our staff do not fall behind again. Our aim will be to bring the pay rates up, step by step, aiming to bring them to Ugandan State equivalents in due course.

Accounts for 2013
Total income for the year was £28,456.34. Nearly half of the money we raised this year came by way of regular monthly giving, and most of that is tied to either funding the feeding programme or to sponsorship. No Gift Aid was claimed in 2013 as claims will be made yearly, retrospectively. So gift aid for 2013 will appear in the 2014 accounts.

The total sent out to Ray of Hope in 2013 was £24,311.45. (2012 – £22,144.76) This covered all aspects of the work, from staff wages to the cost of feeding the children and sponsorship fees to the State schools. It also covered teacher training and the provision of the fuel briquette making equipment.

Breakdown of funds sent to the project:

General Fund……………………………………………………….. £3,280.32
Staff wages………………………………………………………….£7,237.80
Sponsorship………………………………………………………… £6,076.30
Feeding programme…………………………………………………….£2,671.73
Teacher training…………………………………………………….. £916.03
Accountancy costs at Ray of Hope…………………………………………£870.85
Briquette making equipment…………………………………………….£2,815.18
Women’s craft group…………………………………………. ……….£391.68
One-off gift for ‘Eunice’ (Ex Teacher)…………………………. …..£51.56

Excess of income over expenditure £4,019.89

End of year balance
Cash £14,328.88
Project Development Fund for 2014 £16,000
Long term Major Project Development Fund £10,000
Total £40,328.88

Together in 2013 we have made a real difference for the better in the lives of the children and families at Ray of Hope. We hope that you will be able to support us in this new year. ‘Thank you’ in anticipation.