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Update from Lauren Patterson school

  • Wholeschool News

The Friends of St George’s have been supporting a rural primary school (ages 4 to 13) in Uganda since 2016.   There are currently 382 children enrolled and this term finishes in August. Seventeen children are due to take their primary school leaving exams in November. 

The school is named after Lauren Patterson, a former teaching assistant from St George’s who was murdered in Qatar in October 2013.

The Friends of St George’s have been the school's main benefactor, transforming it from two mud huts in danger of collapse to a safe environment with three classroom blocks, a well, latrines, a kitchen, improved drainage and furniture. Local parents made the bricks that were used.  

The school is located in the Mukono district about two hours' drive from Kampala, the capital of Uganda. The area is very poor and parents struggle to pay the modest school fees. Many children walk to school with no breakfast. Many families also can’t afford to pay for lunch and the children sometimes fall asleep at their desks or play truant to hunt for food in local fields. The majority of the Friends of St George’s fundraising currently provides school breakfasts with some lunches. We also support teachers' salaries as the school struggles to make enough revenue from fees as they try not to turn away the very poorest children.


Impact of Covid school closures

Ugandan children have suffered greatly during the pandemic and the poor have often become poorer. Schools were closed from 19th March 2020 to January 2022 – the longest school closure in the world – leaving the children without access to books, stationery, radios or television. Some of the children had to work rather than study. The teachers tried to visit the older children to support them with home learning in small groups and the Friends of St George’s gave some support to the teachers during the pandemic, which meant that they all returned to their jobs when the school reopened. Other rural schools lost teachers and some were unable to reopen. Unfortunately some minor vandalism and theft of furniture occurred and the Friends of St George's hope to fundraise for this in future.


Hope for the future and how fundraising will be used:

The Friends of St George's work with Suubi Community Projects, Uganda. Suubi means “hope” and although the situation is still very challenging, much has been achieved and we are hopeful of making things better. 

The Friends of St George's priority is to provide more meals and to support the teachers' salaries. A donation of €20 provides porridge breakfast for the whole school, €50 provides a nutritious lunch of cornmeal or rice with beans for all students and staff, €100 provides a salary for one teacher for a month. It is possible to make a donation at any time via the St George’s online shop on the school website.


What’s next?

A young lady from England is currently volunteering at the school. She is visiting the families of children who dropped out of school due to poverty.  She plans to set up a sponsorship programme to help them.

Engineers Without Borders, Germany, has visited the school twice and agreed to fund an accommodation block for teachers. This will enable the school to repurpose the money currently spent on rent and transport for the teachers. Work starts in autumn.

Discussions have started with WHOLives to donate computers and support a skills-training room for children who can’t afford to go to secondary school.

The Friends of St George’s will keep trying to provide meals, school supplies and support for teachers' salaries.   If we can, we would like to replace some of the furniture that was stolen.