A group of 24 Leaders and Explorer Scouts aged between 13 and 17 will travel from North East Scotland this July to spend two weeks helping to build a much needed dormitory at a school in Ruhanga, South West Uganda. They will also volunteer at the Ruhanga Development School, helping with after-school activities and general maintenance as well as participating in joint activities with the local scout group based at the school.
This is Daviot & Oldmeldrum (DOM) Explorers’ second trip to Ruhanga, following their first expedition in July 2018 when they funded and helped build a school and scout hall. The Explorer Unit has maintained a close relationship with the staff and pupils at the school and the latest Explorers were keen to visit again to experience the culture and way of life in Uganda as well as give something to a community who needed their support.
In rural Uganda, boarding during P7 gives the pupils the best opportunity to pass their national exams – for most, the highest level of education they will reach. Many of the children live in extreme poverty at least an hour’s walk away from school. Boarding gives them the chance to gain the extra tuition needed in an environment where they are well-cared for and better fed than their own families can afford at home. The building project will be using local materials and local builders and tradesmen, meaning that will be giving as much as possible to a local community as well as developing our own young people’s skills and life experiences.
DOM Explorers’ unit motto is ‘Explore the world and make lasting friends’ and the unit decided in 2017 that they wanted to put that into action. We found UK-based charity Uganda Lodge Community Projects online, which was founded and run by an ex-Cub Leader Ann McCarthy. Ann and the Uganda-based Project Director Denis Aheirwe have been running a community school, medical centre and volunteer programme since 2005. Ann’s Scouting link means she is still actively involved in promoting scouting within the Ruhanga district which worked well for us.
To fund this trip we have raised just over £21,000 and plan to raise another £9,000 before we go. We need £15,000 for the actual build cost plus a further £15,000 to put towards the travel and accommodation costs for the Explorer Scout volunteers. Raising these funds has taken a lot of hard work, organisation, commitment and creativity from our Explorer Scouts. We have run a local Dog Show, catered for a car show and three Christmas light switch-on events (all in the same weekend!), staffed several bag packs and picked up litter in local villages. Individually the Explorers have held a 12 hour Danceathon, swam 40km in a local pool (the width of the nearest lake in Uganda), chopped and delivered logs, made wooden snowmen, sailed 100 miles, held coffee mornings, bingo nights and a sponsored bike ride. With more events planned this year and the support of local businesses, charities, organisations and grants we feel sure we will meet, if not exceed, our goal of £30,000. All involved have worked hard on their contributions to the expedition, ensuring that they are personally invested in the trip.
The Explorers who visited in 2018 were profoundly affected by their experiences. Several have travelled back to Africa since and many have made changes in their lives, work or education plans as a result. Exploring the world and making lasting friends really does have an impact.Further information on Daviot and Oldmeldrum Explorers and the previous trip can be found here: Security Check Required.
If you would like to donate to the project then this can be done here: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DOMExplorers