SCHOOL BACKGROUND INFORMATION FROM FR. EXPEDIT

Location of the School – St. Mary’s Primary Catholic School is located in a rural area in central Uganda, about eighty miles from the capital city of Kampala in the diocese of Lugazi. It serves a population of small peasant farmers whose monthly income is less than $30. The people depend on the crops from their gardens for food and the little money from some of their crops helps them to buy other essential needs like soap, salt, clothing and paraffin.
How the School Started – The school was started in January 2008 by Fr. Expedit Sserunjogi. Fr. Expedit who also comes from this village had received a donation of $ 15,000 mainly from the parishioners of Holy Family St. Thomas Aquinas Church. With this donation Fr. Expedit was able to start a building of three classrooms and offices. Fortunately, he did not have to purchase land for the school as a piece of property had been donated to the church by one Christians of the area. A small church already existed on the land when the school was built. That church is still serving the village Catholic community alongside the school.
School Enrollment – At the moment the school has 120 students in six grades. Several children from the village who were walking long distances to go to other schools before our school started came to St. Mary’s when we opened. That is how we ended up with six grades just after two years of existence. Consequently, the rooms that were supposed to be offices are now being used as classrooms.
Our Achievements so far – At St. Mary’s we celebrate every little step taken towards realizing our dream of having a full primary school. The fact that our first block is being used to teach classes now was a major achievement for the community. The very first classes were taking place under the trees but now we have classrooms that protect us form the sun and the rain. Another major achievement was the purchase of 66 desks for the school which enables all students to sit down and learn comfortably.
In 2009 we were also able to purchase a bicycle for the school at $100. In the same year, were able to purchase a cell phone for the school.
In the beginning of 2010 we ventured to use some of the donations we received to start some projects that could generate some funds for the school and pay our teachers. In this effort we started a chicken project of 500 layers chicken, which originally looked very promising. Unfortunately, we had no good market for the eggs in the village. So, Fr. Expedit had to drive fifty miles from the city to the village to bring the eggs to the capital city every week. We saw that this was not worth doing on an ongoing basis.
Another area we have ventured into is farming. We have two banana plantations which have not started giving us any bananas because this is a long term project. But we hope that six months from now we will start selling some bananas from our plantations We have also grown corn, beans and rice, but our harvest for the corn and beans this year has not been so good due to the unpredictable weather. The rice will be harvested around December.
This year we have also been able to improve the road to our school from the main road.
All these achievements have been made with your generous donations and we will always be grateful.

NEXT ITEM(S) ON THE PROGRAM

At St. Mary’s we still have several challenges but at the moment we have two most pressing needs.
REBUILDING THE HEAD TEACHER’S HOUSE AT THE SCHOOL – We have a small old house at the school for the head teacher. This house has no windows; it was poorly built and is in very bad shape. We want to rebuild it, and use the same bricks to build a new one. Normally here in Uganda all teachers stay at the school in houses built by the school because we have no easy means of transport for them to commute daily. But at the moment we can only afford a house for the head teacher. The estimated costs or the repairs are as follows: PHASE ONE: Bringing down the old house and putting up a new one – $885. SECOND PHASE: Plastering, making the verandah and painting – $803. This estimate does not include the timber for the roof and the stones for the floor and the verandah because these items will be provided by the parents . The parents are very generous to our school.
Original Head Teacher House

Original Head Teacher House

CONSTRUCTION OF THE SCHOOL TOILET

Our equally pressing need at the moment is the need for the construction of a school toilet. Both teachers and students are using a simple temporary toilet we made at the beginning of the school but it is in very bad shape. In order to avoid any accidents and to separate boys and girls we need to locate the toilet in a more appropriate position. Additionally, we need to construct a permanent and decent pit latrine for our school community. The estimated costs for this latrine are as follows: PHASE ONE: Digging the pit latrine and constructing the building – $1,685. PHASE TWO: Constructing a brick small fence and concrete in front and behind the toilet – $360.
Original School Latrine

Original School Latrine

CONCLUSION

On behalf of the entire community at St. Mary’s church, Fr. Expedit would like to thank each and every one of you for the generous contributions you have always made since we started this school. Yes, we still have several challenges but we will tackle them one by one and with the Lord’s grace we will continue to move forward. Fr. Expedit would like to express his very sincere gratitude to Fr. Jesús who has given all his support to the Ugandan mission. Without this support nothing would be possible. Special gratitude also goes to our team of coordinators led by Edith Newman for their tireless efforts. The special efforts of the members of START are also greatly appreciated. Indeed all of you parishioners of St. Thomas Aquinas Holy Family church, thank you so much and the may the Lord keep you and bless you all.