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Never a dull moment

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!


Back to school

After the camp had ended, we went back to school – a major operation in itself, but one that we had a lot of practice with. We purchased supplies in advance, and the process of distribution to the different schools went smoothly. Notebooks, pencils, sharpeners, rubbers, soaps, socks, underwear and more – everything the children needed to start a new term at school.

Some children struggled with the return to school; they missed the constant attention they received during the camp. But knowing that in just a few months they will be back for another camp certainly helps them cope with the transition and giving them something to look forward to. In addition, the children came back to school as a tight-knit group, with a stronger sense of belonging. They help one another at school and let the team or the matrons know if one of their friends is unwell. The school teachers keep telling us that the children came back ‘different’, and constantly ask us questions like: ‘Where did you take them during the holiday? What did you feed them? Who taught them?’

They received love and care, we tell them – from the team, from you, from all of us.


Congratulations, it’s a girl!

And then we heard some very exciting news: Irene, a sweet girl from the scholarship program, just had a new baby sister – with a particularly surprising name.

Irene’s parents, Miriam and Jimmy, are cherished partners to Shanita. They believe in our vision and have taken on an important role, in coordinating and mediating between the parents in their village and Shanita’s programs. Their home village is located in a dangerous area due to violent raids and livestock thefts, which is why the village parents prefer their children to stay at school or in our camp during holidays to keep them safe.

When Irene’s parents visited the camp, we discovered Miriam was in the late stages of pregnancy. We made sure that she didn’t leave empty-handed (like all the other mothers), and they returned home with bags of food (donated to us by our friends at Innovation Africa – see video above).

Two weeks later, Miriam had given birth. We visited their village and met her adorable new baby, who was given the name Nakut Shanita.

My dear friends,

Thank you for being with us on this journey.

Your support drives us, strengthens us, and is present in everything we do.


Team Shanita


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