Kirkcaldy gran moved to tears on Ugandan trip

Janice prepares for her tripJanice prepares for her trip
Janice prepares for her trip
It was the second time Janice Allan, a grandmother of 11 and now a great-gran, had travelled to Uganda.

But, she told the Press, this time was a much more emotional visit than the first, and she was moved to tears at the plight of some of the children she came across.

Janice (60), spent a week in Nkuringo in the west of the country, with Dream Challenges, distributing aid and helping at a school where the majority of the 200 children are sponsored by overseas aid to enable them to be educated.

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Janice sponsors a girl called Constance who, over the past four years has been able to attend the school thanks to her donations which also pays for her uniform.

Janice with Constance during her last visitJanice with Constance during her last visit
Janice with Constance during her last visit

Separate donations have bought Constance’s family a water filter, two hens and a goat to help feed them.

Janice met her during her last visit and was delighted to be reunited again, when Constance’s family presented her with gifts of eggs and bananas.

“It was great to see her again and to see how well she is doing at school,” said Janice.

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When Janice last visited in 2013 it was to take part in a trek through the gorilla-inhabited Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. However, after slipping on boggy ground she badly broke her leg and ended up in plaster. Determined to put that experience to rest, Janice decided to go back to Uganda.

Selfies with the childrenSelfies with the children
Selfies with the children

“This time round was much more intense and emotional as I was living in the community among the people and working with them. Seeing the children in dark and dingy rooms with two sleeping to a bed on dirty matresses was heartbreaking, and they are the lucky ones.

“While we were there we went into the nearest town and those who had raised money for the trip bought matresses and blankets for the residents.

“I gave out the clothing and football tops I had collected and the children were so grateful for even a pair of socks, you would think you had given them £1m!

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“They had virtually nothing to call their own, but they were the happiest people I have ever met.

A visit to the Batwa pygmiesA visit to the Batwa pygmies
A visit to the Batwa pygmies

“We also bought two large water tanks to add to the one already there which will help provide more clean water for the town. The last time I saw young children drinking from muddy puddles, so there is progress being made, but there is still a long way to go.”

Janice lived in a guest house with the rest of the 23-strong group from all over England and she was the only Scot in the party.

While at Nkuringo the visitors attended a special church service which was full to capacity with people from neighbouring villages coming along to welcome them, and they were entertained by singing and dancing from the children and adults.

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As well as visiting the school and handing out donations, they also visited the Batwa Pygmies who were thrown out of their native forest when it became a national park back in the 1990s, threatening them with extinction.

Constance and her mum present Janice with giftsConstance and her mum present Janice with gifts
Constance and her mum present Janice with gifts

They also visited some of the HIV groups who live in mud huts separated from the rest of the village.

“There was a person there who was dying and it took a group of his friends six hours to take him on a makeshift stretcher to the nearest hospital,” explained Janice.

“We gave out clothing and shoes when we were there and again everyone was very grateful.

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“It was an eye-opening experience and I will be doing all I can to give them more clothing and medical supplies next summer when another group comes out.

“I would also like to come back for another visit, maybe in 2019,” she said.

Janice did her fundraising for our Maggie’s Centre in Fife and the Cottage Family Centre, and as well as the donations of clothing and football tops, she sent a separate donation of medical supplies she had collected.

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