Rotarian enjoys first day back at school
Woy Woy Rotarian Ms Sue O'Neill has enjoyed the first day of the school year at the Divine Mercy Primary School in Buwampa, Uganda.
Divine Mercy is a school championed by the Rotary Club of Woy Woy supported by Rotary Australia World Community Service as a humanitarian project.
The school is a partnership project between Woy Woy Rotary Club, Ugandan Rotary Club Njeru, and the community of Buwampa.
Ms O'Neill is the humanitarian project manager and represents the Rotary Club of Woy Woy as well as Rotary Australia World Community Service.
Ms O'Neill is also the school's primary fundraising officer in Australia and has been involved in every aspect of the Rotary project from its inception in 2017.
Students returned to the school on February 6 for their first full year of schooling and so did Ms O'Neill who made the trip to Uganda to celebrate with the school community on the beginning of a new school year.
"It was wonderful to return to Uganda and Divine Mercy," Ms O'Neill said.
"We don't have an exact figure just yet on our new enrolments but suspect it is an additional 120 students.
"This will give us a student population of around 485.
"First day back at school was organised chaos.
"We had uniform distribution and school fee collection.
"Each child had to bring in five kilograms of maize, two kilograms of beans, a bundle of firewood, a traditional broom and rolls of toilet paper.
"We now have a functioning and registered health centre and clinic at the school.
"It is run by a nurse, clinical officer, lab technician and volunteer doctor.
"It has started well as a self-sustaining facility," Ms O'Neill said.
Ms O'Neill recalled how the project came to be after a visit to Buwampa in 2017.
"I visited the community with a fellow Rotarian who grew up in the area for a medical outreach project.
"The outreach was held at the then primary school which was just three muddy little classrooms," Ms O'Neill said.
As part of the medical outreach, the volunteers built a new classroom to help meet demand for medical services and from there the idea for Divine Mercy was born.
Upon returning to the Peninsula, Ms O'Neill raised the project with her fellow Rotarians.
Ms O'Neill said she was thrilled to see Divine Mercy thriving in 2019.
"The first day of term was fabulous.
"The new school uniforms looked beautiful.
"The new kitchen is functioning well and Theresa, the school cook, now has an assistant.
"All in all it was a very pleasing start to what should be an exciting year at Buwampa," Ms O'Neill said.
Newsletter, 9 Feb 2019
Vic Deeble, Rotary Club of Woy Woy
Interview: Dilon Luke, 21 Feb 2019
Sue O'Neill, Rotary Club of Woy Woy