2013 Year End Progress Report

IMG_1006Happy New Year!  2014 is a very special year for REACH, as we celebrate our 10th Anniversary of saving lives, changing lives by through education and healthcare in rural Uganda.  Here’s a brief Progress Report by Co-Founder John Wanda on the past year. As you’ll see, we’ve been busy!

2013 – A Remarkable Year.  From its humble beginnings in 2004 with just 78 students, we have grown into a large primary school with 339 students, 13 teachers, 17 support staff at the school, and a great record of accomplishments. Our secondary and vocational school program this year has 280 students. And for the first time ever, REACH sponsors sent the first group of students to university – 19 remarkable students who beat the odds to gain admission to some of Uganda’s most coveted universities. We strengthened our health clinic, and continued outreach programs with local schools as well as women’s microfinance. We have provided new hope and opportunities to some of the very poorest in Uganda. That is our challenge and our calling.

REACH’s First College Students. In December 2012, when the first batch of REACH students sat their senior six exams, there was no knowing what their fate would be. Of the 22 REACH students who sat the college entrance exams, 19 were accepted into college, a remarkable 86% success rate that few schools can boast of. Our top student obtained a perfect score, earning a full government scholarship. 6 students got admission into prestigious Makerere University, and the others were admitted to various universities. Most of our sponsors decided to continue sponsoring these students into college. In just a few years, we hope to have a remarkable group of new graduates with skills in engineering, environmental sciences, business, public administration, etc. that will help them serve their community. What began as a dream for these students is now becoming a reality.

REACH Outreach.  Because we can only accept about 50 new first graders (P1) a year, we try and increase our impact by sharing lessons learned and training with poor local government schools.  REACH’s outreach programs continued to make an impact in Bududa and Manafwa districts. We helped complete six new classrooms in the Bumwalye primary school. With support from the Kamal Foundation and Bududa district government, REACH teamed with the parents of Bumwalye, the Bududa community based in Kampala to complete a school building that had been in limbo since 1995. I visited the school in October and couldn’t be prouder of this accomplishment. One of our biggest accomplishments was engaging the people of Bududa who live in Kampala to participate in this effort.

REACH continued its outreach program with Bulobi Primary School by partnering with Lasell College and Marymount University to provide teacher training at this school. Both universities have offered to continue the program in 2014. In addition, we started an internship program and two Marymount University grad students Dorothy a and Moussa and Uma, a Marymount professor, went to the Bupoto clinic. Moussa stayed on for a year long assignment at the clinic. Brad, a Georgetown University medical student returned for his second trip to the Bupoto health clinic.  REACH also continued its program of providing secondary scholarships to the top boy and girl at each of the 6 local primary schools in its outreach program, and distributed pencils, sports clothing, soccer balls, and other donated materials to many schools in Bududa and Manafwa. 10 schools also participated in the P7 exam preparation program, to help students prepare for the all important Primary Leaving Exam which determines whether and where students will go to secondary school.  We continue to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of these outreach programs and are working to strengthen them.

2013 Volunteer Experiences

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In 2013, we doubled the number of volunteers who went to Uganda – over 70!  In addition Marymount’s group led by Mary Gibson and Lasell College’s group led by Tom and Lena, there were volunteers from across the US who played a great part in the success of REACH, both here and in Uganda. In terms of staff, Caitlin completed a terrific 20 months of service as Volunteer Coordinator in March. Molly  wrapped up a great year as Outreach Coordinator in August. (We are fortunate to have Marissa  to replace them!)  College grad Dana  from Seattle spent almost 2 months in Uganda and has stayed involved after returning to teach in the US. Teachers Cynthia  and Catherine spent  part of their winter months in Uganda. Bree, a recent graduate from the University of Maryland spent a few weeks in Uganda and came back an inspired believer and supporter of our program. And in August, Joyce Wanda led a team of three adults and six young teenagers (see below) on an eventful trip to Uganda, working on programs at the school and at the clinic in Bupoto. With her on this trip was Heather, a longtime supporter, and Doreen and Bruce from the UK. In October, Christen Brandt, the Director of International Operations of She’s the First, Photographer Kate Lord, and Marina Maher Communications’ top fundraiser Rachel visited REACH for the first time. She’s the First is an outstanding donor and partner of REACH that sponsors over 60 children at REACH. Other volunteers to Uganda included George and Jean, Liz, Alex (a former student at ATS, our sister school in Arlington, VA), and made an impact at REACH and Bulobi school. Ian, a student at Notre Dame, visited the school and treated all to a rare treat – a meat meal — on the occasion of his birthday! Many other volunteers travelled to REACH on a short-term basis and made important contributions.  Of great significance was the visit of a group of three young men from Scotland who were motor-biking from Edinburgh, Scotland to Cape Town, South Africa. They organized a fundraiser in Scotland that raised over $2000. During their stay in Uganda, they worked long hours at REACH for three weeks, providing tutoring and support as well as much needed entertainment and laughter to local children and visitors alike. Thank you Archie, Archie, and Chris! By the way, volunteers have lots of adventures in Uganda, from hiking mountains, riding the Nile river rapids, wildlife safaris, trekking to see mountain gorillas, and more!

Young Volunteers to Uganda.


We want to recognize a special group of high school volunteers that went to Uganda this year from the US and UK.  This was the second time a team of high school students went to Uganda during summer break. The mobilization began in March with the students doing fundraisers to support REACH. These activities included a water gun fight in the summer that raised $1,000, sufficient to sponsor a secondary school student. In Uganda, the group visited homes on community outreach efforts in Bupoto, distributed supplies to Albino children for Asante Mariamu, a partner organization, visited local schools and also worked in the clinic. During their time at the REACH school, they introduced the Reading Challenge and accompanying writing booklets, distributed the primary sponsor letters, and helped with the student letters to their sponsors. Heather and the high school students also assisted with classroom activities, and with math, reading and computer skills tutoring (with the university students).

US Volunteers.  We often write about US Volunteers in Uganda, but there are equally compelling stories of volunteers in the US. After their successful fundraising for REACH, Sara, Amali, and Alexandra were finalists in the “Do Good Challenge” at the University of Maryland (we enjoyed meeting the judges – Olympian Carl Lewis and Actress/Activist Fran Drescher).  The entire US Board of REACH serves in a volunteer capacity, often working long hours to keep things going. Carole spends many hours each week managing the Sponsorship program. JoAnn and Tracy and a remarkable team of volunteers spent countless hours planning and organizing the Gala in October. Other volunteers manned REACH booths at events, and represented REACH at functions, speaking engagements, meetings, or introductions. Without the work of these volunteers, REACH would be struggling to get noticed. The opportunities to volunteer, whether in the US or Uganda, are plentiful and we encourage you to get involved. Please shoot us an e-mail at info@reachforuganda.org.

REACH Is Bursting its Seams!  Due to growth of our operations, REACH is in need of an office.  Since the beginning, REACH has operated out of our basement and/or the executive director’s home.  We’re now at a point where we require a fixed office space, so we can add interns and volunteers to strengthen our operations. We don’t require much space, just a room, and are flexible.  It could be on a temporary basis. Please email info@reachforuganda.org if you have any ideas.

Image-31An Icon Gone. 

As 2013 comes to an end, we remember Papa Akisoferi Wamundu. No words can describe the pain we still feel on the passing of Papa. Without him, there would be no REACH school or programs today. It was Nelson Mandela who said “when a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.” We believe Papa is resting in well-deserved peace.

REACH Advisory Board and Board of Directors.  REACH added an Advisory Board in 2013, a high profile team of business leaders and executives. The team includes Dr. Dan Carrucci, President, Global Health Consulting, Inc.; Cynthia Dinkins, President and CEO of the Northern Virginia Urban League; Jim Hussey, Chairman and Founder of Chapman, Cubine, Adams + Hussey; Charles “Chip” Kahn, American Hospital Association CEO; and Marymount University President Matthew Shank. These are all outstanding members of the community and we thank them for their leadership and vision.

We bid farewell to and thank Board of Directors member and Treasurer George Molaski for his service, and welcome three new Board members: Marco Fernandez as our new Treasurer and Heather Burneson and Tracy Hanafin.

Fundraising for REACH.  REACH has had a successful year, especially through social media ands matching programs organized by Executive Director. In both June and December, REACH was the top fundraiser on match days, raising more than $50,000 each day– out of hundreds and hundreds of nonprofits. She also visited Uganda and got REACH into Great Nonprofits, Guidestar, Microsoft’s Youthspark program, and Superstar status on Global Giving; all of this strengthens our fundraising ability.   The REACH Gala in October raised over $50,000, the most successful gala ever. Our thanks go to Gala Co-Chairs JoAnn and Tracy, and the numerous volunteers. We are so grateful to our supporters, and were moved by donations big and small — including a little girl who sent her $2 Suduko money, another child who raised $11, two girls who raised $150 for library books, and many more.  We welcomed new partners this year, such as the Claude Moore Foundation.  These are welcome funds, but fall short of the growing needs at REACH. The secondary school program alone costs over $200,000 a year. While we have done relatively well to keep REACH programs afloat in 2013, we do need your help in getting all REACH children sponsored, and for us to continue health, outreach, and microfinance programs. Without your help, REACH would not have had the success it has had! As you celebrate the arrival of the new year, please consider a donation to REACH so that the children in rural Uganda can go to school and receive life-saving health care.  In Uganda, families must pay for uniforms, school supplies, and lunch — and many simply cannot afford it.  For a modest donation, you can make a difference.  You can change someone’s life!  Use the Donate Now button on the top right


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