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Never a Dull Moment: Into Shanita's journey

Updated: Jan 27

Dear friends,

Time has gone by so quickly, and we have so much to tell you about what we have been up to recently. Our main project in the past few months was Shanita’s first school break camp – three weeks packed with fun activities for the scholarship program’s children, who came from different schools to spend the local holidays with us.

Why a camp?

The idea of a camp came up a few months ago, when we visited each of the children’s homes shortly after they had started school. We found out that many of the program’s children don’t really have a place to call ‘home’ or that their home is unsafe, or that the parents wish the children to stay with Shanita during holidays to keep them away from various dangers. Each of these families had its own troubling reasons, but the need was clear: we must offer the children a safe place to stay during school breaks with access to nutritious meals. And so, instead of taking some time off, Shanita’s team organized a three-week spring camp. It was a challenging experience, filled with obstacles and triumphs.

The first challenge was to figure out what exactly is a camp. Most of our staff members have never attended one before. But as soon as we did, things just started to roll: We rented a school that closed down for the holidays as our venue and equipped it with mattresses, mosquito nets, towels, toys, clothes, firewood, lots of food, hygiene products, and everything else we needed for the camp. Our lovely matrons built a magnificent field kitchen cooked magnificent meals throughout the camp while and the rest of the team took care of the logistics and came up with original activities and games for the entire period.

We planned a nutritious weekly menu and a detailed daily program full of activities, focusing particularly on learning English and Maths, helping students who needed a little ‘push’. Since the camp grounds had no power supply, we woke up every morning at dawn and went to sleep, exhausted but happy, right after sunset.

The camp started and ended with a gathering of the children’s parents, whom we brought especially from their villages to reunite with their children and spend time with them. Together we sang, ate, laughed, and had a wonderful time. On weekends the camp was open to all Shanita children, including those who did go home for the holidays but missed their friends or needed a good meal.

Our work never ceased during those three weeks. Some children came to the camp with health problems or contracted something during the holiday, and we often had to take children to the local clinic. We also set up a small pharmacy, managed 24/7 by our healthcare staff. It’s upsetting to see a child sick and helpless while their friends are enjoying themselves outside, but we are happy to report that by the end of the camp, all the children had received proper treatment and made a full recovery.

The children got used to the camp environment quickly, and we were delighted to see that they no longer played in groups according to their schools or villages – they had become a single group, one big family that does everything together. For us, this is the most outstanding achievement of these three intensive weeks.

We would like to thank everyone involved in organizing the camp, funding it, sending us clothes, toys, or activities. Your contribution is deeply appreciated.

And to our stellar team in Uganda, the beating heart of the entire operation – hats off to all of you for your patience, flexibility, and love. To our diligent matrons, our regional managers Awas and Julius, our dedicated teachers, the Secondary school students who joined us as instructors, the healthcare team, and everyone else who came by to lend a hand – thank you!

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