YOU may remember that several years ago the Gazette agreed to sponsor a boy in Uganda through the charity World Vision.
Our contact was Mike Whitlam, who used his experience as the former director general of the British Red Cross to build a special relationship between his community in Ickenham and families in Rukiga. Vyners pupils have recently been out there to cement links with a local school.
When the newspaper funding for Blair Oyesigyemukama ceased in 2009, I decided to sponsor him myself. For people like me, who are cynical about where our money goes, World Vision is great.
Regular reports on Blair’s progress arrive via airmail from Uganda. Mr Whitlam even visited Blair’s family on one of his regular trips to the country and we were able to show readers photographs of him with Gazette goodies including a baseball cap and T-shirt. I suspect he’d probably have preferred a football strip.
The latest update includes a photo of Blair which shows how much he’s grown. I know I sound like a kindly aunt, but that’s how it feels.
I am pleased to read in the accompanying report that he has received shoes but I am worried that there are no ticks in the box marked immunisation. Nor has he had a medical check-up.
In his own hand he tells me he has received a mosquito net, the aforementioned shoes, clothes, and fruit seedlings. World Vision supporters have also contributed to the construction of a school where Blair enjoys sport and cultural dance.
He ends: “Thank you for the love and wish you God bless”.
So, the charity Save the Children is to start supporting children in this country who are ‘suffering’ from ‘poverty’. Yes, there have always been hard-up families – even on the breadline in recent history – but with today’s welfare state, with free education, free health care and free school meals for those in need, no child needs to go hungry or without shoes.
I might have felt more sympathetic if the mother interviewed on TV, who had to “miss meals” to feed her child, hadn’t looked so well-nourished and maybe a little botoxed.
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