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Work Party 2018 – Rob & Jenny


Greetings on our return from the sights and sounds of Buliisa District, Uganda, East Africa and the areas surrounding our 6-8 hour drive to and from Kampala. The main aim of our trip was to join with and assist in a work party of 18 members of Life Ministry Centre, Chirnside Park to complete half a dozen projects at “Amari”, meet our host children and their families and get to know and experience the life of Amari. Our work party group ages ranged from 22-78, Jen and I being in the upper section of the age range.


Amari Community Development Organisation was established by Marita Simpson in 2008, who felt called as a young girl by God, to mission work in Africa, principally Uganda. Marita’s faith, determination, teacher training and love for the Ugandan children and their families has seen this school develop from her and three children meeting under a tree to now become a school of 250 vulnerable but happy, loved, and safe children, 47 support staff (teachers and workers), 18-20 assorted buildings erected using local labour and self-made mud bricks and thatching off the property, a solar farm and water bore providing piped water and electricity to many of the buildings.


Hence the need for our work party which was one of 10 or so that have gone over each year to assist with the development of the school in extending the facilities, maintenance, other forms of practical assistance and spending valuable time with the children, families and staff.


We experienced more than we could have dreamed.  A very special bond was formed within the members of the work party and between the work party and the students, teachers and workers.  Special Times included:

  • The teaching and supply of the recorders (musical instruments) to the school was very special and infectious as Anna and Linda taught the students and the teachers (who wanted to learn also) how to play songs. A lot of laughing, dancing and joining in by workers after school with their local instruments.
  • 1st Class entertainment at the concert they put on for us (dancing and clapping with them and joining the congo-line to the beat of drums and local base-like instruments was fun and joy for all).
  • Meeting and getting to know the children and staff which was a joy and a blessing. With the children the shyness was gradually replaced with trust, acceptance and joy.
  • Issuing gifts to each of the children as they all lined up and seeing their joy as they threw their frisbees.
  • Personally meeting our host child Anon and seeing his joy as we gave gifts.
  • Jen working with children one-on-one bringing smiles to both Jen and child.
  • Visiting our host children and their families was very special. Materially they have very little but in hospitality and welcome they overflow.


We finished our trip off with a 3hr Nile River Cruise up to Murchison Falls complete with Crocodiles, Elephants and Hippo’s and a 4hr safari at Murchison Falls National Park joining in with Elephants, Giraffe, Buffalo, Antelope and Baboons (sadly no big cats in site). A long drive to Kampala and a very, very long flight home.

KevinKevin had an operation in 2016 for retinoblastoma (a cancer of the eye). Unfortunately his parents were not able to afford the required followup treatment of chemo and radiotherapy, and the tumour returned this year. A neighbour of Kevin’s knew about Amari, and the work we do with helping children in our area access more specialized medical care than what is available here in Buliisa. We were put in contact with a hospital specializing in this type of cancer down in southern Uganda. However, after sending Kevin for assessment, they told us he was too weak to undergo any surgery, and sent him away. We did, however, decided to get a second opinion from the Cancer Institute in Kampala. And they have determined they will consider him for an operation, but he has to build up his immune system and strengthen body first, as he was also rather malnourished.

Currently Kevin is staying in Kampala,  and receiving ongoing medical care as his nutrition and other issues are being addressed. When he is stronger, he will be considered for the operation and followup treatment.

If you would like to assist with the costs associated with keeping Kevin in Kampala and under medical treatment, and his ongoing needs, could you can contact us, or donate directly through this link.



Yesterday we tragically lost our beautiful little boy. Today, at the request of his mother, he was buried on our property. Below is the address that was read to attenders on my behalf.
Baby James came to live with us on Oct 4. He was placed in our care at the request of the police, and the family his mother Aisha was living with.
He was dedicated in church on Oct 30, and about two weeks ago, we invited his mother, Aisha, to come up onsite and live with us so that she could be involved in raising Baby James.
Last week, on November 23 Baby James was admitted to Kigoya Hospital, Buliisa, with pneumonia. He was discharged on the 27th, but readmitted the same day and diagnosed with malaria. He developed a breathing problem and was placed on oxygen yesterday afternoon, and last night hospital staff referred him to Hoima. But as there were no portable oxygen bottles filled and ready, and he could not travel without oxygen, we were waiting until this morning to get a bottle delivered from Hoima, and to keep him on oxygen here in Buliisa Hospital in the meantime. However, he passed away about 3am last night.

We are, of course, deeply saddened by our loss. He was very loved and very well cared for by our Amari staff and children. Katulinde Oliver and Mama Edin cared for him and loved him as they would their own children. Jaz, my own son, adored him, and called him ‘our brother’, and our other Amari children also loved him. All of our staff have put time and love into him.

We are very thankful that his mother, Aisha, has been with us and him these last two weeks, and also taken a very active role in his care.
We will miss him very, very much, but know that he is now safe in the arms of Jesus, that he is no longer suffering from pain or breathing difficulties, and that he is in a better place. We are incredibly thankful, blessed and privileged that we have had these two wonderful and fun months with him, and we are all the richer for it. My staff have been wonderful with Baby James and his mother Aisha, and I believe that God chose to use Amari staff to help give Baby James a better quality of life and lots of love, even it was only for a short time.
Please continue to pray for his mother, Aisha, and for Oliver, who were the two women taking the primary care of him.
Thank you for your support today, and for taking the time to help us with his burial.n our property.

Baby James and Jaz So, 9.15am last Tuesday, I was headed down to our District Headquarters for  the opening of a new building for the Education Department. By 12pm I was back onsite, with a 3-week-old baby in tow! Yep, I’m totally familiar and experienced with newborns!! (Not!) Jaz came along at around 2 years of age, and that was where my first-hand ‘raise a child’  experience started. (Nephews, nieces and others don’t count, as there was always ‘a more appropriate or experienced adult’ hovering in the background!)

The day unfolded something like this ….. after visiting the Education office, (and ascertaining there was actually only two people already present for the meeting, and hence I could come back home and do a few hours work first!), I was making my way out only to be accosted by the policewoman on gate duty, and whisked away to visit a three-week-old baby who was perceived to be in danger. Then followed a meeting with the village chairman to make sure he was aware of the situation, a meeting at police headquarters, and a meeting with the government probation office.  The outcome being that Amari has temporary custody of Baby James while authorities work on locating other relatives and resolving the home situation.

So there I was, 11.30am in the morning, with a three-week-old in my arms, baby formula an 8 hour round trip away, and not a clue about what I was supposed to do with him once he started crying! But my staff immediately took over, found a few baby clothes I’d forgotten we still had around, fed him on powdered milk, rugged him up and put him to sleep.  Fortunately it was the monthly auction day, so we could buy a bottle and a few blankets and sheets at the market, and got the formula put on a taxi in Hoima and delivered up here.

Baby James and Oliver

Onsite here, Baby James is primarily looked after by Oliver (my househelp), who showers him with love and attention. Other staff chip in, I take him for a few shifts (even braved a couple of nights!), and Jaz, Gerry and other children love holding him and feeding him.

The mother of Baby James has been to visit him a couple of times. Please pray for her as she is grieving not having him around, and pray that the best solution for all concerned will be found.

If you would like to specifically help support Baby James and his mother could you please contact us or donate here. We will be continuing to help with him, whether he remains here onsite, or whether he is resettled with his mother. We would also like to ‘stock up’ on a few items in case we get further cases of children needing emergency care.

And me, well – two weeks ago a very swift and fleeting ‘I’m a bit bored’ flitted across my mind. (And quickly disappeared, given the 3-desks-worth of admin I’m still trying to plow my way through!) But obviously God thought otherwise! (And adding to the irony, we are trying to promote the girl-child, and all I seem to do is collect little boys!)

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Up here in Buliisa, it’s often ‘feast or famine’ ……… at the moment we are enjoying a period of ‘feast’. This is the first crop of pumpkin harvested from our gardens.  Enough to keep Jaz, Gerry and I in pumpkin soup for a bit, and to also supplement our staff and students lunch (at least for one meal!)  David is one of our groundstaff, who has worked hard to get us to this point!

IMG_5534-001And as it was also market week (Market Day happens once a month),  we were also able to top up on bananas, cabbage and dodo (a spinach-like green). The bananas we freeze, and they make great snacks for the boys. (Yay for our solar freezer!)

We are also enjoying groundnuts (g’nuts – like peanuts). The staff are looking forward to having them crushed and mixed with their beans. I’m just enjoying them freshly fried and salted, straight off the frying pan! (They are also rather yummy mixed with rice and cabbage – makes a nice break from the beans!! 🙂  )


Grass Ladies

The rains have come, and our grass is grown again. As in past years, members of our community have requested they be allowed to come and pick the grass to take home, dry and use as thatch on their rooves. (I know, I know, ‘roofs’ is the more up-to-date spelling, but I can’t quite bring myself to use it!)

Land used to be communal, and grass was freely available. Nowadays with the introduction of land titling and individual land ownership, grass is not so easy to obtain.

Amari requests whoever wants to take grass pay a token amount, then they are free to come and take what they please. (We do also get them to sign a waiver that they are aware of our rather plentiful population of snakes, and will take care when moving on our land!)