January to July 2023 Updates

Dear our supporters and Friends,

As we ushered in 2023, we had little anticipation of what could come our way, good or bad. As a voluntary NGO with our paid staff primarily being the staff of Portland schools (Nursery, Primary and Secondary), it has been for the most part a challenging year this far. On the other hand, 2023 has been a year of small and big lessons.

Firstly we would like to inform you of the new changes we are embracing this year forward:

  1. We have a new Advisory Board, to be updated on our website in the coming days.
  2. We will be cleaning our website, eliminating the inactive projects and programs, adding in only the active projects/programs and updating with new information as they evolve.
  3. We would like to launch zoom calls with our supporters and donors twice a month, in the first half of the month and at the end of the month, giving highlights on the projects, activities and events of the month. We shall be hosting one speaker with inspiring stories within our programs, as well as other wonderful people doing amazing work.
  4. We would like to give opportunities to anyone who would like to help in any way, from buying a pair of shoes for a student in need, buying bread for a starving family, or contributing to construction projects, within our support priorities.
  5. We are less likely to tolerate discipline issues among our beneficiaries. After three or four warnings for misconduct, student(s) will be eliminated from the program. We would like to set good examples for the rest while raising them to become better future leaders. The sponsor whose sponsored student is to be dismissed shall be informed and asked if they are willing to take on sponsoring another student.
  6. College level students will continue to be directly in touch with their sponsors via email and their preferred communication channels. Photo and video updates will be shared with the sponsors of the students in secondary and primary levels on a quarterly basis.
  7. We would like to set up Teacher sponsorships for our teachers at Portland schools. This will be explained in our wish list at the end of this reading.

Half year Highlights

Portland Schools

In January, Portland schools acquired brass instruments  and formed a musical band called Portland Brass BandStars, comprised of both primary and secondary school students. The band is intended to generate income for the school. So far they have been hired once and they are saving their first incomes for their uniforms. Many thanks to Karen Bentlage for making this donation of instruments. 

As you might be aware, construction of Portland High School’s new classroom block was still ongoing at the end of December 2022. The windows, doors and staircases were not yet in place. These have now been purchased and installed. Many thanks to Ted and Lindsey Copeland for this support.

The Science and computer laboratories were also constructed and installed with equipment and computers. We thank the Christian African Relief Trust, Jonathan Croes, and Karen Bentlage’s friend Foster Charles for the donations that have enabled practical science and computer classes at Portland High School.

We received support for Portland schools staff salaries for the months of April and May from Rita Reutner (Germany) and Alison Harrower’s friend (Australia). Both schools were in financial crisis due to limited support from the local parents and a lack of sufficient sponsors for the enrolled students. The schools are composed of many vulnerable students who have little to no educational support. We are very grateful for the relief this brought to us!

Veeda Almeida and her children Keithan and Keisha made a donation of school bags to 40 pupils of Portland Nursery school section. The children were so happy to receive the bags! These are life changing items, uncommon for the children here. Thank you so much!

The students of Portland High school planted their own tomatoes in half an acre of land in March of this year; by June they started harvesting and they are still harvesting. This is a wonderful initiative. We are motivating them to continue supplying vegetables for their own consumption while at school. They love it.

Sponsorship program – RGCM

We have three new sponsors this year for five vulnerable young people. One of them is a young man with mild autism who was raped by a woman who offered to buy fries from him. He has always been moving door to door looking for a market for his fries as a way of paying his school fees. He is now a happy young man in a boarding school. 

Fourteen students graduated from different colleges and universities this year. Eleven of them are now certified as nurses and midwives. One earned a bachelor degree in human resource management, another received a bachelor degree in development economics, and one is now a certified plumber. We are very grateful to all the sponsors who were involved in shaping the lives of these young people.

A student of Portland High School without one limb was sponsored by Laura Mitchell who went further and bought her a prosthesis. She enjoys walking on it very much! Many thanks Laura!

I am sharing our 10 year Impact Statement of the sponsorship program on my Facebook page. When you get a chance, please follow “Achieng Beatrice Nas” for these inspiring picture updates. It is amazing how much this group has accomplished!

The Bakery Program

The bakery in Buwenda, Jinja city has not yet reached its breakthrough. Staffing and administration is still challenging but we are working around the clock to set new structures, new systems and new plans in place to make it a profitable business that will help feed the students at Portland schools while also servicing the loan granted by Karen Bentlage for its premises and operations.

On the same note, in April this year, the driver of our only sales car – the Spacio that I used to drive, crashed it. As I write this, it is still in the garage being worked on. We are hopeful that the repair will be successful and that it will run on the roads again, selling the bakery products.

Community Interventions

Buwenda parish, comprising of 8 villages, was the recipient of 100 beddings purchased by Karen Bentlage in March. Individuals were screened to ensure they went to the most needy. It was so humbling walking through these villages, witnessing the poor of the poorest people. Thank you so much Karen Bentlage for donating beddings for these 100 most deserving families!

More images are on my Facebook page

Cultural Exchange program 

For 7 years now, an Australian Tour and Travel company, the Little Africa Tour Company,has brought new guests to our community of Amor village the first two weeks of January. These guests come to learn how people live their lives at the grassroots. They visit homes (mostly to assess their needs) then as they leave after 2 days, they buy household items and distribute them to the selected families who all gather at Portland school. The women of Amor and the surrounding villages celebrate with our guests. They always look forward to their return. Many thanks to Susie and Patti for organizing the visit this year and we appreciate your guests Suzie, Kerry, Jade and Alison (one of our long serving child sponsors) who came and left marks in our support community!

Jensine Larsen, the founder and CEO of World Pulse was also in our community this July to visit with Portland Schools. It was a massive welcome for her too! I shared seven posts with different stories about her visit on my Facebook page as well as on their website www.worldpulse.com. Should you want to know how they started their journey from the Airport to Amor village, meeting World Pulse Ugandan members in Kampala and more, please follow for details.

There is a new initiative coming in as part of cultural exchange program;

The people of Buwenda and the people of Amor expressed interest for “Friendship. Forty parents from Buwenda Mataala village of Jinja district visiting with and exchanging ideas with 40 parents in Amor village, Tororo district.

This program is intended to foster friendship while promoting and skills in parenting (including training parents to be sex educators to their children), building family level relationships, promoting cultural diversity, and promoting household level livelihood projects. The community of Jinja plan to visit the community of Tororo on 26th August, 2023, while the people of Tororo will visit with the people of Jinja on 16th December 2023. Both communities are very excited! We were thinking of adding in 40 overseas friends (parents) to blend with these two villages whereby the overseas “friend of two” becomes a mentor and friend of the two different tribes and cultures so that they learn broadly as a circle of three. Let us know what you think.

Last but not least, early this year my niece, Achieng Priscilla, went overboard spreading false allegations about me and our work. She smeared my reputation on social media and via emails to some of our supporters. I did not attack her back. She later came to her senses and regretted her actions when it was already too late. She had already stained my name. Please note that she is not the co-founder of the Pearl Community Empowerment Foundation and that I owe her nothing, should you encounter her in any of her postings and emails.

Our works speak for themselves. There are frequent updates I make on Facebook. If you are on Facebook, I recommend you follow me to stay up to date.

Urgent actions needed

  1. Portland High School has run short of classrooms for next year’s promotion classes. They need 3 extra classrooms by January 2024. We are in need of your support in this. Please share this information with organizations and people who could be in position to help. The budget is 116,055,400 UGX which includes windows, doors and plastering. 
  2. FULL Fencing of Portland Schools. There are porous routes created by students who tend to escape from school at any time. We need to close these gaps entirely immediately using solid walls. The budget is 47,894,000 UGX.
  3. There is a need for a 6 stance toilet for the primary school section and a four stance toilet for the teachers. These are at a budget of 24,755,000UGX. 
  4. Child sponsorship is still an urgent need as we have hundreds of unsponsored vulnerable students in Portland schools. These are bright students who want an education, but whose families can’t afford tuition.  Monthly donations of USD $40 covers the student’s tuition, feeding, accommodation and medical bills.
  5. We would like to have the salaries of the teaching staff of Portland Schools sponsored, as they represent the most expensive recurring cost in operating the schools. One sponsored teacher will manage and instruct 50-100 students monthly. If we were able to find sponsors for all 38 teachers, it would significantly reduce the pressure to find sponsors for all of the students. The cost is USD $139 per month to sponsor a teacher.

We would greatly appreciate you sharing our letter to anyone who might be interested in becoming involved with PCE Foundation and the work that we do.