In 2014, during a summer trip to the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda, we discovered some huts; badly built with canes and mud, topped with rusty tin, holey rooves, badly damaged by the wind and rain. No running water, no electricity. It was the St. Juliana Parents School, one of the poorest schools in the city. Nearly 100 children were trying to learn, mostly sitting on the muddy floor and cramped on the few benches available; the orphans slept in a storeshed, on rugged pieces of filthy foam, fighting with rats, flies and cockroaches. The kitchen was a shelter made of rags with a fire-pit and the toilet was just a hole in the ground. There were few teachers and they were very badly paid.
We decided to act in person: we set up the NGO “Expanded Horizons” and in August 2015, went back to Kampala and thanks to the donations of 140 friends from Italy, Spain, Germany and Norway, in 44 days and with less than €10,000 we built (with our bare hands) 7 classrooms, a kitchen, 2 rooms with bunk beds and an office, a 108 ft deep water-well and had running water and electricity.
In May 2016, we merged with another italian-based NGO from Olbia, the “Deborah Ricciu”organisation, founded by the family of a young, smart teacher, who tragically passed away while giving birth to her first son. She dedicated her short life to helping the needy and poor and always wanted to create a school in Africa for poor and orphan children.
Thanks to this fusion, donors have significantly increased and in August 2016 we finally managed to complete the school, ensuring running water, creating new bathrooms with toilets, sinks and showers, with the related sewage and septic tank, to avoid the dispersion of slurry in the soil. We installed gutters on the roofs connected to 5 tanks for the accumulation of rainwater, usable as water reserves and showers for children. We have created new desks and benches for the classrooms, so that all children can sit down and write comfortably. We have placed new boards in each classroom and paved the dusty school yard. To make children play, we also had a three-seater iron swing set up by a local blacksmith. To carry out this project, as there is no organization to maintain, 100% of the donations have been used for the school. All expenses for travel, board and lodging were borne by the volunteers themselves with their own money. No "indecipherable" financial statements at the end of the year. All money for the purchase of materials has been spent personally, without European or African intermediaries.
For every purchase of materials and goods for the school, we have posted on Facebook the photos of the purchase and the related invoices or receipts. Donors have always been able to see in real time what was spent, what was purchased and how much was left in the cash box. Now that the school is over, the real challenge will be to make these children grow in the best possible conditions, educate them, teach them a job and put them in a position to work in their land, so that they can stay with their own economic means, live a dignified life and do not be forced one day to emigrate.