KamuKama and our Foundation’s roots
In 2011 Lew and I visited Uganda to hike with the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The experience was amazing. We were awed by these incredible creatures and the beautiful rainforest.
After our hike, we wandered into the village. We were overwhelmed by the poverty and despair we saw. It was like seeing a page out of National Geographic I had read as a child. As we walked a little boy in rags appeared and silently walked with us. He had the most beautiful smile and peace about him. We later found out that his name was KamuKama which means “Protected by God” in English. He had been in the village looking for his father to pay his school fees. He could not attend school without paying, and his father had left the family for Kampala. Before we left Uganda we made arrangements for a guardian to make sure he was enrolled in school and we wired the money to pay the school fees.
A year later we returned to Bwindi with our children and Carol and Milo Burdette. We had wonderful hikes with the gorillas, and everyone was able to meet KamuKama. He was healthy and thriving at school. We saw so many other children living in extreme poverty without the means to go to school. We learned about Victor and Sylvia Bahati who were from the area and were struggling to educate 33 children at Victory School.They only had several untrained teachers, no textbooks and very few resources, but they had a deep faith in God and desire to improve the lives of children in their community.
After returning to the US, we decided to establish the KamuKama Foundation. We partnered with Victory School, Sustain for Life and Sanctuary Retreats with the goal to expand Victory School and educate more children like KamuKama.
In 2016, Ian Sendagala joined the Kamukama Foundation as Managing Director. Ian is a respected leader with a passion for helping his neighbors, and has been an active supporter of the local hospital, nursing school and orphan development center. He manages the foundation’s on-site operations and serves as a strategic advisor to the board.
Through a sponsorship program and donations, Victory School has grown to 300 students. They now have new uniforms, reading books, textbooks , trained teachers, new classrooms and much more. Donations to the KamuKama Foundation go directly to support the school. We believe the gift of an education is giving these children a real chance to break the cycle of poverty and have hope for the future.
Meet Ian Sendagala
Ian is a respected leader with a passion for helping his neighbors, and has been an active supporter of the local hospital,nursing school and orphan development center. Following his very successful career with Abercrombie and Kent’s local Sanctuary Retreats, Ian will be a valued on-site partner for the Foundation. Bwindi is a better place because of Ian, and the families of Victory School will be blessed by his service. Please join us in celebrating Ian and praying for his new journey with the Kamukama Foundation.
Victory School Uganda Partners
Sustain for Life
Letter from Jo Kroes Randell:
After funding initiatives at Bwindi Community Hospital and in the surrounding villages for several years, Sustain for Life was introduced to the nearby Victory Nursery and Primary School. We were clearly struck by the need at the school and also for the potential for this to become a sustainable project that could have great impact on the wider community. During our first visit to the school we saw the terrible conditions that the children and staff had to endure. The classrooms were falling apart and the children spent a majority of their time repairing the walls using plastic water bottles and mud. The children’s uniforms were in tatters, a nutritious diet was lacking, the kitchen was non-existence and the toilets were in disrepair. We also learned about the hardships and poverty endured by most of the students and came to know the school’s founder Mr Victor Bahati. We were taken by Victor’s personal commitment and sacrifice to the school as he had been supporting it out of his own meagre pocket for some time. We were also impressed with Victor’s sincerity, honesty and commitment to working together to develop a solution for the school.
Sustain for Life initially funded the building costs for a five classroom block, smokeless kitchen and toilets at Victory Nursery and Primary School. In order to cut costs and to ensure engagement by the beneficiaries we asked for the children’s parents and community members to help with the construction – which they did. The school and parents also worked hard to develop the land around the school into vegetable gardens in order to teach valuable skills in sustainable agriculture and provide an additional source of nutrition for the children and staff. The project was delivered on time and within budget and the school was accountable and transparent throughout the process. As a result the Trustees of Sustain for Life recently agreed to fund the construction costs for an additional block of classrooms and an office at the school.
We are pleased to work in partnership with Jeanne and Lew Little to support Victory School. They have done their research and realise this is more than just a feel-good exercise of pouring aid into a desperate situation. Like Sustain for Life, they are investing into the future of these deserving children and helping to create a sustainable solution to provide education and end the desperate cycle of poverty.
Sustain for Life is a small NGO registered in the UK, Italy, Switzerland and Uganda that helps some of the poorest people on the planet to help themselves.
Jo Kroes Randell, Head of Development, UK
Letter from Ian Sendagala:
The origin of the whole concept was conceived as thus; hopefully you extract something from it.
SGFC has been involved with philanthropy for quite a long time since it was re opened in 2001. Enormous efforts have been pulled into the Medical Healthcare. Where we touched a single block clinic and transformed it into a district referral hospital in barely ten years. When I was promoted to Lodge Manager – I felt the urge to diversify our philanthropy portfolio into an area of equal concern. Education in Buhoma Community was a missing key ingredient to development. The soaring illiteracy levels, the begging culture on the roadsides, alcoholism in the youth, poverty, redundancy, ignorance among others would be fought with education.
As thus, our involvement with Victory Primary School in particular was even much more than just a developmental move, but rather helping the poor of the poorest, the needy children, vulnerable. We wanted to make dreams come true for these little souls. Many couldn’t afford school fees, which was manifested in the type of school structure (mud and wattle) at the premises. We incited education among some who could only afford one meal a day – since at Victory they would have a break tea and lunch.
The bottom line is to give hope and faith to the same people who look after (conserve) the gorillas. So they could believe in tourism-as they earn from it.
Unit Manager, Sanctuary Retreats
Plot 46A Victoria Loop,108 Lubowa Estate
P.O. Box 7799, Kampala, Uganda.