Jackie Van Lankveld is a member of the R.C. of St Catharines and incoming Chair of the International Service Committee for D 7090. She brought us an update on their integrated school project for orphaned children in Uganda. In 2015, Jackie who is the Manager of Early Years Services at Niagara Children’s Treatment Centre and a part-time clinical instructor at Brock University began fundraising for a school for orphaned children. She partnered with the R.C. of Nkumba Uganda and an NGO Environmental Women in Action also in Uganda. Historically, Rotary International does not fund bricks and mortar projects, but in 2016 there was a one-time The Rotary Foundation grant called “Simple School Build” that helped make Jackie’s vision possible.

She canvassed D7090 and 14 clubs including DVSRC pledged support for the project. The Ugandan NGO had been able to purchase a 4 acre property on Lak Victoria and the dream of the school that integrated orphans with community children was on its way to realization.
This project had a number of hurdles. First, there was a lot of delay as a result of government environmental testing, retesting, and paperwork. The Rotary Club of Nkumba kept in good communication with R.C. of St. Catharine’s and the project continued. The final payment from R.I. was made Feb 28, 2020. And the school opened.
But, as we know that was just as COVID began its rampage around the world. The school had to be shutdown. The orphans had to be boarded at the home of the Executive Director of the Environmental Women of Action and at the homes of her family and friends. The teachers were no longer employed in education; the E.D. organized sewing lessons for them so that they could earn a living that way. An amazing illustration of resilience and hope! School finally resumed in Dec. 2020 and Jackie was there to witness how the school is changing lives. There has been a tremendous uptake from the community where the school is located. The orphaned children are with children from intact families. Together, they study not only the government mandated curriculum, but also music, drama, dance and sports. The children are experiencing success in school and developing a greater self-esteem.

Jackie’s photos of the building, the classrooms, the children, their new shoes, all helped us visualize the direct impact our donations have had on young lives. For Jackie, the experience was life affirming as a Rotarian. She spoke highly of the R.C. of Nkumba.
There are plans for a second global grant to finish several outbuildings. To date $12,000USD has been committed by clubs out of the estimated $24,000 USD needed before applying for the global grant. Jackie invited us in the DVSRC to consider making a second donation.