Youth group making a difference in Uganda

September 26 2013

YOUNG people helping out in Uganda this summer have found their good deeds have not gone unnoticed.

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YOUNG people helping out in Uganda this summer have found their good deeds have not gone unnoticed.

Members of the Faith group at Christ Church Downend teamed up with young people from Bradley Stoke to work with youth groups and children’s organisations in Mbarara.

As they quietly went about their business painting a zebra crossing at an accident hotspot, they were astonished – and delighted - to find themselves featured in a report in one of Uganda’s most popular newspapers, Orumuri.

Youth leader Gary Smart, who travelled with the group, said it was fantastic that the young people’s efforts had captured the imagination of the press.

“It was a busy road – as busy as Gloucester Road. The old zebra crossing had been rubbed away and there had been a few accidents.

“We worked with young people from All Saints youth club in Mbarara who asked the equivalent of our council what needed to be done. They said a zebra crossing needed to be repainted but they didn’t have the funds or the manpower to do it. As it was dangerous without a crossing we jointly paid for special paint, marked it out and got on with painting it.

“It created lots of interest. Local people were stopping and asking us what we were doing.  People were leaning out of their car windows to say comments such as ‘thank you for your great service’ and ‘thank you for your service to our community’.

“After we finished the newspaper contacted the local youth group to use one of their photos they had taken so it was a complete surprise when we appeared in the paper. Everyone was really pleased and we all recognised the symbolism of black and white people working together painting black and white lines.”

Matt Brydon, 17, Katie Smart, 18, Lucy Payne, 19, Katie Avent, 21, and Kirsty Whitelock, 21, travelled to the African country at the end of July following seven months of fundraising.

The project – called Youth 2 Youth Uganda 2013 – involved members of the Faith youth group teaming up with young volunteers from Holy Trinity Church in Bradley Stoke to provide drama teaching, sports coaching, health education and first-aid training in schools and projects involving young people. 

They also worked with around 250 boys and girls in a children’s development centre in Mukora which looks after the health, social, spiritual and educational care of children from orphaned backgrounds and extreme poverty.  The group had been fundraising for seven months to help finance the trip and pay for a legacy of 200 first-aid kits which were given to every family at the centre and sports equipment including footballs, net balls, training cones and sports kits.

Lucy, 19, said: “The people we have met have been amazing. I have enjoyed getting to understand the culture. I’ve learned to try and be more relaxed and not worry and that you can make friends anywhere.”

The youngsters took it in turns to update a blog, posting photos and detailing their exploits.