Jane Cadwallader with Anneti, one of the first residents in Omwaana Tugende. SUR
When Jane Cadwallader is in Spain, she writes books for children learning English as a foreign language and goes into a Spanish school as a volunteer to help with English teaching. Her passion, though, is ‘Adelante África’, an NGO she helped to set up after an incident in Uganda led her, her family and their fellow travellers to immerse themselves in the needs of Kibaale District.
How did Adelante África come about?
While our children were still young enough to go on holiday with us, but old enough to be adventurous, we decided to take them to interesting places - we went to Peru and Ecuador, and on safari in Botswana, and then we decided to go on an overland trip to Rwanda. The other participants included a project manager, an engineer, a couple of lawyers, a nurse... We were travelling down through Uganda and our lorry got stuck on a mud road. Almost immediately we were surrounded by children - I was so struck by their big eyes, and their interest in everything! There were some mud and cane shacks nearby which turned out to be their school, and we ended up having a sing-song with them. The headmaster joined in, and parents came too, and then one of our group suggested a game of football - except that they didn’t have a proper ball, just a home-made one made out of rolled up plastic. Finally, when we were about to leave, we realised we could easily send them supplies whenever a lorry was going that way, and we asked them what they needed - thinking they would ask for a proper ball, or books, or stationery. They said what they really needed was a new school. It all started there. When we got home, the lawyers set up the NGO and we got to work. That was in 2008.
How do you raise funds?
We have some regular subscribers, and we organise events and talks and sell things made in Kibaale District. People can also sponsor individual children - every euro they give helps the child through school, and they can write to them, send little gifts. We are very keen at the moment to find more sponsors to allow children to go to secondary school - particularly for girls who otherwise end up marrying very young and having a life of drudgery. There isn’t a local school so they have to board, and the cost is 30 euros a month. In times of crisis like now though, even 30 euros is quite a commitment for one sponsor, so we can organise shared sponsorship. We have two teachers in Spain who are sponsoring one child and that’s more manageable.
You say “every euro” goes to Uganda, but what about costs?
It is written into our statutes that none of us claim expenses for anything at all. If we go out to Uganda, we pay for ourselves. We have a volunteer accountant, and work with volunteers in Africa - often they are priests or teachers. Adelante África just pays for transport if they need to go somewhere, and the odd phone call, but the cost is negligible.
So have they got a new school now?
It opened two years after we decided to build it, in 2010! A lot of the funds came from just one school in Madrid, Runnymede College. The children and teachers threw themselves into the project after my children gave a presentation about it, and raised 40,000 euros in a year.
What is Adelante África working on now?
After we’d built the school we realised we’d started at the end! The children had their school but so many of them had health problems - malnutrition, malaria, AIDS - and there are a lot of orphans. We decided to build a home for abandoned children. It is called Omwaana Tugende, which roughly translated means ‘Onward children’. On one visit I was actually there when a mother of four died, leaving them totally destitute - some children have other family who can take them in, but these four were going to be split up and sent to different uncles, all very poor and as alcoholised as their father had been. They were the first four children to be taken in to Omwaana Tugende, and there are 16 now, with room for 28 - we only take children who have been recognised by the Ugandan courts as being abandoned. The home has its own well, which is very important, and a vegetable garden.
What is your part in it now that it’s built?
Our philosophy is always to support local initiative, not to take over. We pay for the nurse’s salary at the home, and for medicines. The maize flour for the children’s breakfasts is provided locally and we provide sugar for it. At the school, fees are three euros per term and we pay for 115 orphans - when we first went to Uganda there were 75 children at the school altogether and now there are 475.
What other initiatives do you support?
The Africans are amazingly active on the development front - one of the things they set up is called FAL - Functional Adult Literacy, which teaches adults to read and write but in conjunction with other useful skills, particularly agriculture. It’s a real motor for development and the whole community supports it - the participants bring materials like chalk, the government provides books, and Adelante África is paying for a teacher. So far 75 people have signed up and the class is still growing, so we need another teacher. Then on the nutrition front, the children need to eat protein - if the local people build a run, we will buy them some chickens! Eventually we want Omwaana Tugende to be government funded and government run - and then we want to bring more abandoned children from other areas to live there and go to school.
What does ‘Adelante África’ mean?
In Uganda it is called ‘Tugende Omumaiso’ which translates as something like “Let’s go forward together” - Onward, Africa! Forward... that’s what we aim for, moving forward together.
More details are available from Jane Cadwallader T 635700510. f you would like a talk about Adelante África in the Cadiz area, call the treasurer Alison Blair T 635700420.