Through the generosity of private donors during 2014-15 the Project provided Uganda’s poorest folks $31,696 of direct support from donations totaling $32,313. Every donation is quickly maximised. More than 160 single instances of vital support were provided with the year’s largest single expenditure of $12,766 being a land purchase and school reconstruction for Muko Primary School on the remote Ugandan/Congo border. This is Buyambi Loves third school construction which cumulatively has enabled more than 2060 students to attend school with an additional 400 enrollments yearly. The Muko school re-build tripled the schools enrollments from 49 to 150, and without us anoth100 kids, every year, wouldn’t be at school at all. The flow-on effects assist present and future generations on every level.
In 2014-15 Buyambi Love continued to support 10 students from Primary to Uni level, and made 39 study support payments including boarding school fees totaling $4,619. Without these sponsorships none of these kids or youth would be educated. Education or none; these are the children and families we support. Our students range from 7 year old Jacinta who was rescued from a most pitiful context in 2011, to 21 year old Lydia who is very proudly doing her 2nd year of Plumbing trade school, to Ronnie who was orphaned very young, studied hard as a Project sponsored student the last 2 years, and has just commenced University doing a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering (a very shy intelligent young man), to ‘Project daughter’ 21 year old Racheal who was orphaned and severely burnt in 2010 and is now completing her first year of Nursing; this girl who at 16 buried her mum, was horrifically injured and lost to a future recently told me, “I can’t believe this dream is coming true Daddy.”
During 2014-15 Buyambi Love also provided a crazy diversity of medical assistance included 76 payments totaling $6,503. These included malaria, typhoid, cholera, HIV, and Hep B diagnoses and medicines, stomach ulcer colonoscopies, DNC( post abortion infection procedures), scalp infections, dental work, spectacles, ultra-sounds, burns scar relief, therapy and creams, physiotherapy, etc. We also provided 3 major surgeries: These were facial reconstruction for burns victim 24 year old Isa Wolugembe (his third by the Buyambi Project), life saving colon surgery for 36 year old father of four and community leader Yason Aainimani, and an emergency caesarean birth for a baby girl consequently named ‘Favor’ who is doing fine. All procedures are carried out at Uganda’s best hospitals and with ‘world-class’ physicians, sometimes discounted, mostly not, but my pre-req’s of affordable best quality treatment delivered with skill and heart are achieved.
Though quality medical treatment here is by international comparison cheap most sick Ugandans put off even the cheapest of medical treatment as long as possible because of cost. Too often I meet sick people who in trying to economise on medical costs have in time sold all their cows and goats, pulled kids from school, gone broke, and become much more ill on a wide variety of poorly qualified and disheartened ‘doctors’, wrong diagnoses and medications, and a general lack of capacity, support, skill, equipment, and, heartfelt care. Getting the best care available in the first instance serves and respects all Buyambi Project interests; the ill, their families, and their donors, so that’s what I provide.
A wide variety of other assistance of 49 payments totaling $4,335 included things such as setting up 2 small businesses for single mums, school uniforms, books, tutoring, IT courses, carpentry tools for Isa who has now started his own business, and many I simply can’t recall now! (All individually listed and receipted in the Projects Financial Report which is independently audited yearly.)
After nearly 7 years in this country where more than 15 million people eat just one meal every 1-3 days, I still find their gratitude embarrassingly humbling. In a country where much funding provided to large overseas charities is lost to corporate level salaries, heavy admin charges, unnecessary new 4WD's, poor accountability regimes, local corruption, ‘ghost’ sponsor-ships, etc, I stay personally connected to and monitor the validity of every sponsored child and the use of Project funding within every Project activity. Yet Buyambi Love is no 'soft-touch' nor a baby-sitter, and anyone seeking to exploit or 'milk' the opportunities of personal empowerment we offer is quickly re-directed. Sincere effort toward independence is supported.
In Uganda there are no phone books, no phone info service, and despite promises, no-one calls back. Clear instructions and procedural guidance are absent at every institution be it hospitals or government offices. Most often this requires my personal attendance to get some clarity which usually takes hours with return trips common, waiting, often misdirected, and absorbs much mental and physical energy. 'Officials' are class-bound, usually corrupt. In my absence, the poor, the ignorant, the most needy, are too often treated with contempt and ‘Service’ always a surprise. Without my presence many simple folk give up, daunted, shamed. In such contexts much of my energy is absorbed trying to stay cool-headed in order that the needs of those we assist are achieved.
Costs relative to the above support totaled $1,658 for the year and primarily these were bank charges, phone and internet costs, and the occasional repair or tyre on my privately owned 22 yr old motorbike which gets me around. These costs are not 'admin charges' but integral to and without which the assistance could not otherwise be provided.
Buyambi Love has no employees, no office, no car, and functions through a private 6 yr old laptop, $100 phone, and ATM machines. Organising all undertakings, administration, record keeping, maintaining financial books and submissions to auditor, promotion, donor feedback and ‘Thank you’ correspondence, preparation of reports to governing bodies ACNC (Australian Charities and Not For Profit Commission), lots of hours in hospital waiting rooms and overwhelmed/inefficient government offices, and organization of all Project endeavors is voluntarily provided and my pleasure to do so. My personal income post-whopper-mortgage from a rental house in Australia is $350 per week . Zero life insurance. House worth a few bucks….one day.
Odd to me, apparently I turn 59 in December. I have somehow discovered another, a new, rewarding, loving, yet ever challenging life, relationship, and family. I like and am at peace with old motorbike. I have notions of one day returning to Australia with my family, of showing our boys Benja and Harry the bright city lights, of educating them there. Of sitting enjoying the company of my siblings, my ex-wife and her good man, for most of all love is never ‘lost’. Presently I live in Uganda's north in the middle of what was 'Kony country', now a fractured uninspired community. A hundred kilometers to my North and also South are two refugee camps where over 200,000 war-weary Sudanese struggle to survive in appalling conditions. Optimism’s a handy comforting thing. I wish it for you. I ain't no saint and see my life as the function of a fortunate evolution. I will send this to my brother who I have not spoken to for some years, a situation also in need of attention.