We just wanted to let you know that we’ve climbed Scafell Pike for the charity Amigos which supports widows and orphans and those living in extreme poverty in Uganda. We walked for over 8 hours in freezing cold weather for this great cause. We couldn’t do it barefoot as planned because there was snow on the ground! But we are going to climb Snowdon in the summer and promise to get our boots off then!

As some of you already know we are trying to raise funds for our trip to Uganda in October and for the charity. We are really excited to be going back to visit our Amigos sponsored child and pen pal, Snoopy Ogala and his family. Now that our family fosters for Capstone, Snoopy’s story is even more interesting to us.

Life in Uganda is very different to the UK and so when both of Snoopy’s parents died of AIDS, Snoopy was only about 4 years old and he was very vulnerable and in a dangerous situation. Snoopy’s kind aunt took her sisters children in but she was a single woman living in poverty with children of her own. She struggled to provide enough food and shelter for her own family and she couldn’t afford health care or education for any of the 6 children. She had no support as there is no social services, no NHS and secondary school education is only a dream for most Ugandan children.

Amigos stepped in and with the help of UK sponsors the children were enrolled in school and received a small school dinner of posho and beans every day (often their only meal)

The family were very grateful as Ugandan’s see education as their way out of poverty, being in school offers safety from life on the streets and those that are given the opportunity, work and study hard.

We receive 3 updates per year from Snoopy and he writes a lot, telling us all about his life. Once he didn’t write much and said he was ill. We were worried and asked Amigos to investigate. Joseph Sabiiti, the Ugandan child sponsorship manager travelled all the way to Lira to visit the family. He found all of the children alone as their Aunt had left them to find whatever work she could. Rizik (Snoopy’s sister) was found digging the ground, searching for roots for the younger children to eat.

Joseph took the children to hospital in Kampala and the doctors said they were weak and malnourished. Joseph heard of another aunt who had a job as a cleaner in a primary school in Kampala and she now looks after the children. They all live in a tiny 2 roomed house in the school grounds. We visited their home in 2010 and could see that they all lived in one room and slept in the other room, they cooked and washed outside.

As sponsors we can send the children a gift of money each year at Christmas and Amigos buy the children something that they need. We found that Snoopy had asked for a bunk bed and blankets which he shares with 3 siblings and a cousin. That shocked us to think that Snoopy hadn’t even had a bed to sleep in before. It seemed weird to us because I had (as always) asked for a pony for Christmas and Callum had asked for an X-Box!Callum and Freya

Amigos provided training and a small loan so that Snoopy’s Aunt could set up a small business to earn extra income to support her new family. They are all now well and although they face many challenges everyday they have hope for the future. Rizic is in her final year of secondary school and she hopes to become a teacher. We know that the Amigos child sponsorship programme is a great success!

Snoopy always starts his letters with “I thank God that we are all alive and have reached up to this day” which I used to think was a strange thing to say. After visiting him when we were 10 year old we can now understand why he says that. Snoopy has been surrounded by death all of his short life. Children die of childhood illnesses because of no immunisation programme and poor living conditions. Malaria is a big killer as well as HIV and Aids. We visited a hospital and Amigos explained that people just couldn’t afford the medication and treatment they needed. This is the reason why people living in poverty have large families. They are fully aware that many of their children will not survive childhood. They need an investment for the future, children to look after them in their old age when they can no longer work as there are no pension schemes.

It made us realise that we are so lucky to have been born in the UK.

We can’t wait to stay at the Kira Farm Training centre where the charity provide vocational training to some of Uganda’s poorest teenagers. They live and work at the farm for 12 months before returning home to teach their new skills to there communities. They receive training in such things as farming, tailoring, carpentry, hair dressing as well as health care and conflict resolution. Last year the charity had a 100% success rate, with all students finding employment or they are now working for themselves. They also feel better able to manage the trauma they have suffered in their early lives. We hope to make new friends and learn more about their difficult lives when we are there.

We want to thank everyone who has sponsored us so far, we really appreciate your support. Walking up Scafell Pike for over 8 hours was really hard! An uphill struggle! But nothing compared to what all vulnerable children and teenagers in both the UK and Uganda have to face everyday. We are proud to be involved with both Amigos and Capstone who after all, are working towards a better future for the children and young people they help to support.

To find out more about Amigos and the great work they do please take a look at their website

www.amigos.org.uk

Please go to our fundraising page and donate whatever you can. Thank you, Callum and Freya

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/callumandfreya4amigos