Our Uganda Connection - Supporting Communities in East Africa
The College maintains relationships not only on Australian shores, we are a member of the Viqueque Friendship Schools, supporting education projects with our close neighbours in East Timor. The College in partnership with the Geelong Catholic Secondary Schools supports the TriUMPH Festival which raises substantial funds for overseas relief efforts in both East Timor and East Africa.
St Joseph’s College has extended a hand of friendship to the people of Mannya (a small remote township in the south of Uganda, 30 km from the Tanzania border) since 2011.
The friendship has only grown stronger over the years after the inaugural small group of Year 12 students from St Joseph’s and Clonard College first travelled to Mannya, immersing themselves in the local community, visiting the local ministries to see the work that is being undertaken to make a difference to health and education.
With the generous support of the Old Collegians, the Parents and Friends, the College community and particularly the students chosen for each trip to Uganda, fundraising has been undertaken in order to help resource the schools, as most have very little or nothing in terms of books, stationery and play equipment.The most recent focus is on St Joseph’s new Vocational Secondary school started in Kensekka, about 20 kms from Mannya. In 2017, funds raised from the St Joseph's Parents & Friends Fashion Dinner and a substantial amount from Edmund Rice Day were sent to Mannya to assist in constructing the first building of the new school in Kensekka.
Following its completion we received a message from Fr Nestus in Kensekka:
"Greetings to you from Mannya and Kensekka community. Great news our Secondary school has now started. Today has been the first day of its opening and we have over 50 students. This is very encouraging and the parents are very excited. We are grateful for the love and support.The morale and enthusiasm the children and the teachers have is fantastic. It’s really encouraging and promising seeing great hope created in the lives of these young ones who had almost given up their future. Thanks for giving a future to the people that had become hopeless."
We will continue to support this remote community. And will continue to offer our Year 12 students the opportunity to join future immersion experiences. The aim of these experience is to immerse the students in the daily life of the schools and parish community and to maintain our friendships and continue to build relationships.
2017 Uganda Immersion
Students Michael Bongiorno, James Dillon, Liam Jelley, Jack Kammerman, Patrick Kelly, Andrew McNeel, Brandon Stokes, Jacob Talbot, Laura Heard, Cleo Bailey and teachers Chris Lynch and Monika Ercoli spent the year meeting weekly to prepare for the 7th St Joseph’s College and Clonard College immersion to Mannya, Uganda in November 2017.
The aim of this experience was to immerse the students in the daily life of the schools and parish community and to maintain our friendships and continue to build relationships.
The group undertook various fundraising initiatives such as a sock drive, chocolate sales and the generosity of community donations helped to resource the schools with sports equipment and reading materials.
There is a vibrancy when you enter Mannya that is like no other place in the world. The welcome is spine tingling and the people are amongst the warmest in the world. The wide smiles are from the kindergarten children and the biggest gathering is on Sunday 6 am mass, with the church packed to overflowing.
Our program for the three weeks involved visiting many Primary schools in outlying areas such as Nabbunga, Kensekka, Busibo and Nsese.
Our days were filled with activities such as seedling propagation, preparing land for cultivation, tree planting, picking coffee beans, playing with and being entertained by the children in the kindergarten, primary and secondary school or learning to play drums and traditional dance. The senior students invited us for a dorm stay and a day stay with local families. We spent time in the health centre gaining a fuller understanding of the challenges that the community faces such as HIV and malaria. We planted coffee seeds in the school garden, helped wash down walls of the school, cooked together and played games. We taught the senior students about cyber safety and they taught us weaving and straw broom making skills.
We played a friendly Aussie rules football game with 100 students against our 12! We also challenged the debating, soccer and basketball teams. Formal occasions such as speech days, concerts and graduations were features of our stay. Our visit concluded with a visit to the Queen Elizabeth National Park on safari and a boat trip along the Kazinga Channel from Lake George to Lake Edward.
Without a doubt, staying in an African community such as Mannya is one of the most challenging and memorable experiences. Each visit continues to bring hope. We the visitors leave with the experience having changed our lives forever.
Monika Ercoli - St Joseph’s Staff Member
Edmund Rice Foundation
Over the years, our St Joseph’s community has contributed to the building of the Ruben Medical Clinic and the Ruben Primary School in Nairobi, Kenya and the Edmund Rice Sinon Secondary School in Arusha, Tanzania.
For more information on the Edmund Rice Foundation and the vital work of the Christian Brothers' projects and programs visit their website at: www.erf.org.au