Category Archives: CFU News

CALM Africa visit the UK

As we bring 2016 to a close, we reflect on the great work done across this year, the progress against our common goal of protecting children in Uganda, and the great friendships shared over many years through this.

Journalist, Hillary, met with the CALM Africa team following their visit to the UK in August this year. Now we hear from their own words, what it has meant to them.

Two members of the CALM Africa team are all smiles and tales after returning from a trip to United Kingdom. The duo is James Kimera Ssekiwanuka, the Director & Team Leader and Joseph Luganda, Programs Manager.

“The purpose of our visit was three-fold,” explained the Director. “Firstly, we were there to attend the wedding ceremony of our friend Dan Hope. Dan informed us as early as last year, that he will be tying the knot with his wife. By March this year, he had sent a formal invitation and travel tickets to enable the preparation for the journey.

On a soberly note, James missed the wedding ceremony due to travel delays with visa processing. Joseph, however, did attend. “It was a marvellous party, thanks a lot Dan. It was one of the highlights of the trip,” adds Joseph.

“Secondly, we were there to meet supporters and friends of CALM Africa and other organizations that have an interest in child welfare and, thirdly, to meet friends of CALM Africa and to interface with CFU Board.

During their stay, they visited agencies like Team Fostering Organization in Newcastle where they learnt and shared experiences on child fostering programs. They also visited Safe Children Organization in Leeds where more experiences were shared and notes compared.

“We also took days off to spend time with our host Dan in York,” adds James, with memories flashing on his face.

In London, the duo spent some days with Terry Goddard (CFU Director) & family and had a day with Tony Bateman (CFU Director) and family, with whom they discussed matters of great interest for the organisation. Tony is the Patron of CALM Africa and works very closely with James continuously, remotely from the UK and through regular visits to Uganda. This was also an opportunity to interact with sponsors of students of Jolly Mercy Learning Centre. Joseph had time off to visit Kingston University. The university pledged to work with CALM Africa, by sending volunteer student to visit the organization.

Another great benefit of the visit was for James and Joseph to attend the Annual General Meeting of Children First Uganda (CFU) board, who are currently the main funder of CALM Africa through their fundraising activities.

“We gave them updates, achievements made so far, challenges and the way forward in regard to CALM Africa’s work,” explains James. In the way forward, the duo reiterated that CALM Africa is contributing to Global Sustainable Development Goals which focus on people, planet, peace, prosperity and partnership.

While addressing the board, James is quoted saying, “thank you is never going to be enough. You have worked hard to support us: just enormous goodwill. CFU has done amazing work. We have no sentimentality, no self-pity, no regret in what has been achieved so far in this partnership. We have all tried to follow defined objectives based on our dignity, our hopes and our dreams; striving to reconcile our inner experiences with all that’s happening besides us. We thank CFU for the essentials which have made us consequential. Our potential without the essentials is inconsequential.”

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CFU were so pleased to hear of the progress made during the AGM, and we look forward to working together on further developments over coming years. On a recent visit by our Director in the opposite direction over to Uganda, it was fantastic to see these things in person, and so encouraging for continuing to make an impact.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

CFU Chair’s update

Last week was our AGM, Suzanne, our Chair gives a personal update of the meeting…..

I flew out of Dundee last Friday in FlyBe’s purple Dornier propeller airplane, looking forward to attending Children First Uganda’s AGM the next day. I can’t quite believe that this will be our 8th AGM. However, I did know that this one would be rather special, as James Ssekiwanuka (Director CALM Africa) and Joseph Luganda (Programme Coordinator) were in the UK and would be attending the meeting.

The engineering consultants Elementa had kindly offered us a meeting room in their smart new offices in London at no cost. Everyone could make the meeting; it was great to see Tony (Bateman), Andrew (Drakeford), Natalie (Moore), Terry (Goddard), Dee and Paul (Winks). Then straight down to business.CFUAGMmeetChildren First Uganda’s principle aim is fundraising to support Calm Africa’s work (our sister charity) in Uganda. So it was great to hear Andrew reporting that we have sent over £34,000 to Calm Africa last year, whilst our total expenditure was only £150 (which were mostly admin and bank charges). Our other goal is to increase the profile and awareness of Children First Uganda and Calm Africa. Much of this work is championed by Natalie who is our ‘Media Lead & Fundraising Co-ordinator’. Natalie has done a great work managing our website and social media. The website blog offers great insights and heart-warming stories about the wide range of projects that we are involved in.

As I had anticipated, James and Joseph stole the show. It was a privilege to hear James describe how his team support some of the most vulnerable children in Kampala. He told us how the staff provide a safe and supportive school environment for the children in their care. James described his ambitious plan to pump clean water from their local well directly into the Jolly Mercy school. He closed by sharing his vision of building a healthcare centre for the local community. After lunch Joseph spoke about the grassroots community work that their team provides, and he explained more about the ground breaking foster care programme that he runs, which allows children to be cared for in their own community. It was good to meet Joseph, I had heard so much about Joseph but I had never met him.Suzanne with James and Joseph

What are my closing impressions of the day? I was encouraged that as a result of the regular giving of many Children First Uganda supporters, we are now able to send monthly donations to support the Calm Africa team. I am proud that nearly all the money we raise goes directly to support children that are in Calm Africa’s care. It is good to know that projects like the school sponsorship scheme are giving children hope. Every year I am struck by how far even a modest donation can go in Uganda.

As I climbed back on the Dornier plane at Stansted, my hope is that when the CFU team met in 2017, we may have helped turned some of James’s dreams into reality.

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You can read a little more about our Chair, Suzanne, and the rest of the CFU team here: http://childrenfirstuganda.co.uk/who-we-are/cfu-board/

A Great Meeting

AGM usually stands for Annual General Meeting, the annual get-together the board is obliged to have to discuss our operations and deal with regulatory stuff. Sounds dull, huh. Well, with our directors and members living all over the UK, and one abroad, our AGM is the one time of year we all get together in one room to catch up, reflect on what we’re doing and where our future plans lie, in person. So our AGM stands for A Great Meeting – and Saturday 28th June certainly was one!

Our Directors and Members gather for the AGM
Our Directors and Members gather for the AGM

In a day-long meeting, there is a LOT to cover to review a year in the charity. So we thought we’d just give you some of the highlights!

First things first, we welcome a new director into our team, Terry Goddard. Being a group of volunteers doing this in our spare time, our board tends to see some changes over time with people’s commitments naturally changing. But this new addition brings us up to five directors, joining the other four who have all been with the charity for between 3 and 6 years, and two members. We’re so pleased to have him alongside now and look forward to our roles developing.

An extremely positive outcome to note between our 2013 meeting and 2014 is a significant increase in our regular donors who are giving monthly donations to help cover core costs at CALM Africa. This is absolutely fantastic; these regular donations are what will help CALM Africa sustain their operations and standards.

Across the day we discussed ways to improve our internal communications as this is always a difficulty for a geographically divided group! We reviewed what fundraising activity has been done and where we need to focus our efforts. Some volunteers have been absolutely brilliant supporters over recent months in running their own activities to raise money for various areas of CALM Africa’s work and we can’t thank them enough for their proactive effort!!

Our focus as we set out at the beginning of 2014 remains the same for this year, to increase the level of unrestricted funding we raise. Fundraising for specific projects is always fantastic, but our constant need is for funding that can be provided to CALM Africa to be allocated to priority areas of work at a given time.

We’re also so pleased to see an increase in the number of our supporters as well. Our followers on our social media channels have grown hugely this year – join us if you haven’t already at www.facebook.com/childrenfirstuganda or on Twitter @childrenfirsug! This year, our social links have even created connections with other charity organisations who have just visited CALM Africa in June to see about working together in future! Helping us grow further on social media is invaluable in raising awareness of our cause.

Needless to say there were many ideas flying around for things we can do, so watch this space for what we manage to put into action over coming months! A great meeting full of positivity and on-going support for our friends at CALM Africa, finished off with a lovely view of the river to unwind!

A relaxing bite to eat after a long day, before we bid each other farewell until next time!
A relaxing bite to eat after a long day, before we bid each other farewell until next time!

Our next newsletter will be out later this summer. To receive your copy of news and updates on activities at CFU, please email media@childrenfirstuganda.co.uk to get onto our mailing list!