IMAGINE having to walk a 60km round trip for two weeks to complete your O-level exams.
For students at Suubi Secondary and Vocational College in Lubanda Village, Uganda, this could be their reality.
But Kyabram-based not-for-profit Help Us Grow (HUG) is doing all they can to make sure no child has to go through this.
Launched by locals Helen and Adrian Brown in 2007, HUG works to implement and support sustainable community projects in Lubanda.
Since its beginnings, HUG has built a community centre, health clinic and secondary and vocational school in the town, all under the name “Suubi” – meaning “hope”.
The first intake of students at the school is now gritting themselves for next year’s O-level exams.
But the Ugandan Ministry of Education has said the school must have a functioning school library and science laboratory before they can host the examinations.
HUG has wasted no time and, with the help of individuals, schools and organisations from Kyabram and beyond, has already raised money for 200 books to be purchased for a brand new library.
In a miraculous occurrence, HUG has also been able to source science equipment and laptops for the lab.
“Our son’s friend had gathered science equipment in 2010 for kids in an orphanage in Nepal, but sadly she had no way of getting it to them,” Helen said.
“So it was just clogging up her parents’ shed and they asked if we wanted it. It was just the most perfect timing.”
Helen said it was like Christmas when the students opened the boxes filled with books.
“We wanted to get a photo of everyone with the books but the students could barely tear their eyes away from the pages they were reading,” she said.
But HUG is not finished yet – they still need a building where they can hold the exams and house all their precious new supplies.
The planned block of classrooms will include a purpose-built library space, science and computer laboratories and two additional classrooms for Senior 5 and 6 students looking to complete A-level exams.
The building and fitout costs for the block have been budgeted at $90,000. HUG was able to allocate $20,000 towards kick-starting the fundraising, with other grassroots supporters quickly jumping on board.
The Planet Wheeler Foundation also lent their support with a dollar for dollar grant – dedicating a dollar for each dollar raised.
Currently sitting at $40,000, HUG still needs your help to raise the remaining funds.
“We wouldn’t get the support of philanthropic organisations like Planet Wheeler if it weren’t for the tireless support we’ve received from communities in Kyabram and surrounds. They wouldn’t even consider us,” Helen said.
“But we really don’t want our grassroots supporters to feel we no longer need them. Their support is just as important and they can still do something, no matter how small.”
To give towards the new block, go to www.hug.org.au