Becky Tidd is one of the youngest volunteers ever to go to NOTDEC Uganda. She left school last year and had the opportunity to visit NOTDEC in January as part of her gap year before going to University to study Speech & Language Therapy. This is her report.
My family and I first began supporting NOTDEC in 2003 when we started sponsoring Rhona. I’m now 18 and Rhona is 19, so we’ve seen each other growing up through the pictures and letters exchanged over thousands of miles between England and Uganda.
In January 2018, I finally met her!
It was incredibly special. The surprise and delight on her face when she first saw me was lovely. We gave each other a big hug and sat down together to catch up!
We chatted about her home situation – after growing up at NOTDEC, she is now living with her family.
We bonded over music and of course High School Musical!
And I spent time in the laundry area helping her wash the clothes from one of the houses.
The laundry was a great place to chat with the housemothers and see the daily running of NOTDEC.
One of the best things about being at NOTDEC was being part of unpacking over 120kg of Christmas presents and giving them to the children. During the unpacking in the classroom, excitement buzzed throughout the whole site and the kids watched through the windows. Then we gave out the presents house by house. The personal gifts from sponsors clearly meant a lot. On Sunday, the children all wore their new clothes for church and looked very smart. And the toys went down very well – though their durability was definitely tested!
Later in my trip, I went with the social workers to visit NOTDEC children now living with their wider families. The range of living situations was far more diverse than I expected – most had no electricity, some lived in 1-room bedsits, others in houses; one had a TV, another had a sound system. But, whatever the situation, you could see that the children were wanted and loved by their newfound family and most had settled well.
It was also clear how loved and respected Anthony & Janet were. The children were beyond excited to see them; and their families were very grateful to sponsors for the support with school fees.
What struck me most was that NOTDEC children were relatively privileged compared with many there. Some were the only child in the family going to school, and all brought to the household NOTDEC bedsheets and a mosquito net. In Uganda, beds, bedding etc. are typically shared so the other kids will generally also benefit. This shows the impact of the NOTDEC sponsorship scheme on the lives of individual children and on those of other family members. Longer-term, we hope that the schooling funded by NOTDEC will spill over to benefit the local economy and community too.
I also visited NOTDEC’s 20 acre farm.
An abundance of matoke (banana) trees line the NOTDEC entrance and there are eucalyptus trees and a recent plantation of coffee.
To ward off curious elephants, bee hives mark the perimeter of the site. The picture shows NOTDEC’s first honey being tasted while we were there.
The thriving crops are a great asset: NOTDEC children and staff get weekly food supplies, and surplus produce brings profit to the organisation.
It was great being part of such a lovely team and great fun hanging out with the kids. I played netball with some of the older girls; and bubbles and balloons went down very well with the younger ones. Under Guy’s supervision, I even tried my hand at face painting – but with limited success!
I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to visit this beautiful and friendly country and spend time falling in love with the wonderful children at NOTDEC. I can’t wait to go back!
Thank you to all sponsors for your support.