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UGA02b - Pangani School Development, Kween: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: August 30, 2018

great people

Report from BHW Uganda Partnership Facilitator Following Visit in June


Key people: James and Gorret Mayende

This report is being completed without having gone out to Buhoya this year but I spent a very full day with James and Gorret at the Source Cafe in Jinja on 14th June. This has not been a good year for Gorret with health issues. She had a fall and hurt her head badly earlier this year, is currently recovering from malaria and has also had a preliminary diagnosis of diabetes in the last few weeks.


Recent Events

Foundations for Farming

tough areaUnfortunately Foundations for Farming has not been successful in Kween. There were two terrible growing seasons and many of the people who were trying, including David who was the assistant principal at the school, have largely given up. David had been trying out a demonstration plot by the school and last year John Vlaming (BHW's agricultural director) and I saw the challenges which were faced with the arid climate. However, they did say that David was still practicing on his own land around his house with some success. Issues faced by farmers were; protecting their crops from wandering animals (domestic), drought, and theft of produce. All these things happened on the plot by the school.  

Rice Growing

There is a land dispute around the school and the rice growing area. In summary, the original Sabine owners of the land in Kween were driven off the land by marauding Karamoja people some time ago. In the neighbouring Kapchorwa area were other Sabine people, mainly local politicians, who seized the opportunity to lease out large portions of the land to other people/companies. The ‘lessees’ are now claiming entitlement to the land.

The original occupants of the land are disputing the claims and there is a Ugandan Land Commissioner investigating the claims. She is understood to be above reproach but the resolution is likely to take some time. In the meantime she has ruled that the school and widows cannot continue rice growing on the two plots of 2-acres referred to last year. 

The parents of the children in the school are largely not the people claiming that the leases are illegal and they are supportive of the school. But they are also powerless people.  


The school has been continuing OK following the problems which were documented last year but in James’ words “it is not going well” and there are still some issues around the management of the school. James is ensuring that the school is being supplied with materials regularly and in a way that ensures the children get the benefit. There is still a question as to whether the teachers are being paid their full entitlement but we have no way of verifying this.

There are now two or three fully qualified teachers and one more about to join. 

The school continues to deliver much needed education in the area but it also has major problems. The realistic solution to this is to take steps for the school to be registered as a community school but it cannot do this while it stays on land where there is no security of tenure. 

James has acquired a 2-acre piece of land outside the disputed area which is about 400 metres from the existing school and church site. The parents and church would like to move and would effectively erect new, albeit temporary, structures like the present ones to house both the school and church. This would enable registration to take place. Registration would then mean that the school and its accounts would be regularly inspected and steps taken to ensure that it is managed correctly. The District Education Inspector supports the plan. 

This represents a significant change in the arrangements and we did indicate that we could not guarantee BHW would be in a position to provide funding for this. However, we also see that the government is now requiring schools to register and meet much higher standards therefore there is not a lot of future for the school where it is. We support the school (and the church) moving to the new location although we have not seen it. It would be important to have some idea how far away the site is from the new well. We understand that it not working currentlyis about 400m in a different direction whereas the existing school is about 200m.


The bore which was installed and commenced last year is presently not working. It needs to have a rubber seal replaced and to go a little deeper. Apparently this is not expensive and they have an estimate of around 200,000 UGX ($60) plus labor of about 100,000 UGX ($30). We understand this issue will be resolved in the near future. 

Fruit Trees

Some of the fruit trees which were planted last year have survived but most died in the drought. Most people got 8-10 small seedlings however some watered and some didn’t.

Ngenge Prison

keen to helpWe had a discussion about the prisoners and what happens when they are released. Many cannot go back to where they came from as they would simply be killed so they stay in Kween. There is a need for vocational training and in our discussion we concluded that brick making and carpentry could be good as there is certainly demand for that in the area. We will await a proposal from James but there could be a win/win here. It would create employment and business for released prisoners (many of whom have given their lives to Christ) which would be profitable, and would ultimately enable the school to erect permanent structures. The prison leadership are keen to see something started for prisoners on release and this could possibly be done within the prison itself which would have some benefits in terms of security for the equipment.  


Partnership's Influence within the Community

James described that there are three groups involved in the school:
1) Parents and teachers: They are very supportive, want the school to continue and will assist in relocating it to the new site without any financial involvement or expectation. 

2) Saboteurs: Somewhere in here is the old principal, Asuman, who wants to start another school and take the students. 

3) The Sabine people who actually own the land and are disputing the fraudulent leases. Effectively they want the land back but what is not clear is whether they want the school to remain there or not. In any event a move to properly held land which will enable the school to be registered will advance and assist in the stability of the school and accountability.

The fact that the parents are supportive is important in this situation. It is difficult to see that there may not be some ‘factions’ in the community but our experience when we have been out there is generally positive in this regard. It seems that the school is serving its purpose.


Plans for the Future

Kween is, in James’ words, "a unique place". Because of its conflict history, unstable living and extreme poverty it is going to be a long journey with this part of the partnership.

I asked James, ‘What would give BHW confidence to continue with supporting the school?’ and his responses were:
• The District Education Officer wants to register the school. He sees value in it.
• The school belongs to the community not any individual which is rare for a private school.
• There is a path out of the problems through registration and accountability. 

However, in the final analysis we believe we should continue with the school because both James and Gorret spend a lot of time involved with it and have a big heart for the area. Our confidence cannot be in what is happening, as it is clearly difficult and unpredictable, rather it is because they are there once or twice a month overseeing matters and endeavouring to maintain it. And the need is certainly there for the school. 

We agreed that we, as BHW representatives, would write to the school management outlining our expectation that the school be appropriately run, managed and accountable, that the teachers receive what the school has agreed to pay them, and that ongoing financial support is at risk if they do not do this. James thinks this is a good idea.

Registration would also create financial accountability in the school management structure and make it much more transparent. The District Education Inspector would visit regularly and registration requires an audit as well. For this reason we support the school moving and the benefits that will come from this as its survival is the most important consideration at present. 

The possibility of supporting a brick making and carpentry initiative with prisoners before and after release is an exciting one. We may be asked to support this financially, and would recommend that we do, if a reasonable proposal is made. It would enable three things:
1) Prisoners to learn skills and be able to support themselves on release.
2) Enable the school to erect permanent structures in the near future on the new land.  It is inevitable that the Ministry of Education will require this eventually.
3) Create an ongoing business possibility into the future. It is likely that the demand is there in the community.


Prayer and Praise Points


1) The school is still going. We think this should not be underestimated and we give thanks for that.
2) The prison work is going well. Two of the released prisoners have requested that James start a church where they live near Soroti.  James is considering this.


1) Peace in the community. It has not really recovered from its long periods of destabilization and conflict in the community is still there.
2) For the church to grow and continue to have a positive influence. The pastor, Emmanuel, who has been spending some time in Kenya is also present more in the area.
3) For the well to be speedily repaired.
4) For wisdom in terms of moving the school and for good practical contribution from the community to the rebuilding of church and school on the new site.
5) There is probably still a role for Foundations for Farming out here despite the obstacles but we will leave it to the local people to determine whether this can progress.



Really in our view the most important thing here is that James and Gorret have not given up on this despite significant challenges and the challenges in Gorret’s health since earlier this year (she has not been able to function fully for a few months). Because they continue with the school we should and should look at a longer term horizon to journey with them, possibly stretching to a decade or so. 

We are keen to assist with a brickmaking project for the prisoners and would endorse this for the reasons set out. We think it is an idea with great potential and await the proposal from James. 

This part of the CFC-CCM partnership is the most vulnerable but the people here are among the most vulnerable that we have encountered in Uganda. No land security, difficult families, extreme poverty and ongoing climate battles - all the risks of all the other partnerships rolled into one! But, on the other hand, there are encouraging signs and the relationship with the prison is still good. The idea of something like supporting a brick making initiative would tick a lot of boxes.