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November/December 2008

    Remember RYDA at Christmas

We all like to think that Christmas is a time for miracles. Now you can act to create a small one yourself. Please investigate our Christmas Gift Certificates. Each one you give or receive is a small miracle. Linking lots of small miracles will make a great wonder.

Thanks For Support
Our regular readers will know that October News was all about our response to the crisis at RYDA. They simply didn't have the funds to allow students to sit their final exam. With God's help this was problem was fixed. In this response from Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, Executive Director, he looks back at some of the critical events of the year.
Dear Doug,
I can't help myself to get on this organisation's computer to write to you to extend my appreciation to yourself, Ina and the St. Margaret's Uniting Church congregation for the timely support you have extended to me and the entire organisation this year, without which I would have managed to do what I have done this year.

I will always remember Ina's support during the Heart Operation of my daughter Doreen and the replacement of the cow for my family. (Editor's Note: Geoffrey had to sell the family cow to help pay for the operation.) Am glad to report that yesterday the cow gave birth to the female cafe and I hope the milk will be back to the dining table for all of us to enjoy especially my two little daughters. THANK you very much.

This Friday we will be concluding our Final Examination for the 57 students which you supported to achieve this final step of life. I had this morning a chat with the children to evaluate their feelings after the examination. You could see in their faces the promising desire to have performed well. Thanks to the Almighty GOD that this was made possible.

Through you I want you to extend our sincere appreciation to all those people who have supported our organisation this year. You have made our work better.

Hope For 2009
2008 has been very difficult for RYDA. They have not been able to find donors to support their programs - programs that have, in previous years, brought life and vocational skill training to over 300 of the most vulnerable youths in Uganda each year. Programs that need only $US150,000 to be sustained.

Instead the organisation has run on a shoestring budget and struggled to provide education, food, clothing and housing for 57 final year students.

RYDA cannot continue as beggars through 2009. Begging daily for help from the first world to sustain proven programs. The strain on staff is too great. Of course there will always be a need for individuals and groups to donate and donate regularly, but what St. Margaret's and other friends have been able to do is only the icing on the cake. The problem in 2008 has been that the cake has not been available.

RYDA's Board of Directors have begun reviewing their approach for 2009. They are trying to find new ways to use the resources they own - land, buildings, some machinery and tools, expertise and experience - to fund their core mission, which is to support the most vulnerable youths to build their own positive future. They do not yet know where to go. Please pray for inspiration for these leaders.

October 2008

Believe in Miracles?

  • If you don't believe in miracles, this month's story might convince you that God's Spirit is alive and well.
  • If you do believe in miracles, then look inward to see if God's Spirit is asking you to be involved in further miracles to support Rubaga Youth Development Association.
The story begins with an email to St. Margaret's Church. You can hear the desperation and despondency in the words of Geoffrey Kyeyune, Executive Director:

Monday October 13th

This is to let you know that we are facing the financial problem the examination is starting in a weeks time and we facing a problem of the examination materials and food to see us through I have tried to make this happen but with no vail. We hav 57 students who are to sit for their final examinations in four different trades. this is why are writing to you to see if we can find a way of rectifying this critical problem. I have tried my level best but all have not come to our side. We are in bad shape.
An email was sent to a distribution list of people interested in RYDA. Also St. Margaret's treasurer wrote asking for details of how much was needed. The response was:

Christmas Miracles

We all like to think that Christmas is a time for miracles. Now you can act to create a small one yourself. Please investigate our Christmas Gift Certificates. Each one you give or receive is a small miracle. Linking lots of small miracles will make a great wonder.

Wednesday October 15th
The 57 students require different materials.
  • 13 students will sit for tailoring and embroidery they sit for four papers this require $US312 for all of them.
  • 10 will be sitting for Electrical & Electronics they sit for 3 papers (practical) they require $US276.
  • 10 will be sitting for Brick laying and concrete practice, these require cement, polythene sheets, sand and specific equipment according to the cutting list they require $US297.34
  • 14 will be sitting for their Catering and food science these require $US357.50 dollars they sit for 9 papers.
  • 10 will be sitting for their Motor vehicle and metal works they require metal sheets and fuel for runnig their vehicle they will cost a total of $US250.
  • For the food items will require $US400.
I know this is a lot of money but that's the real cost. You can support where you can. Hoping to hearing from you sooner the examination starts next week on Tuesday.
Before this email had arrived, two readers on the distribution list had each transferred $AUD250 to St. Margaret's account. That was soon followed by two more donations of $AUD100 each, but in Australian dollars the amount needed was $AUD2787.
With just this $AUD700 in hand St. Margaret's treasurer and minister conferred and decided to use other church funds to make up the difference. Money had to be transferred in time for the exams start. It was an act of faith based in a firm knowledge of the generous spirit of St. Margaret's people, who had only last month sent over $AUD1000 to RYDA.

The full amount was transferred on Friday 17th and Geoffrey was informed. He replied:

Friday October 17th

One may sit at the chair with a sign of relf. What a chance you have given this vulnerable children a chance to have a future. This past two weeks I could believe that the problems which have been standing in our way to achieve this long battle is almost over.
Thanks for the effort and please send my deep appreciation to all those RYDA supporters who have made this possible. I will let you know on Monday if the funds are recieved and I will acknowledge for the funds there after.
Let the almighty God bless all those who stand with us in this endless troubles of fixing and making me like a wonder boy.
However, international banking is a strange business. Electronic transfer apparently doesn't mean instant transfer and by Monday the funds had not arrived in the RYDA account. But on the grounds of St. Margaret's promise, RYDA was able to borrow sufficient funds to get the exams started. A call from Geoffrey late Tuesday October 21st (09:00 in Kampala) told us:
...the children have been fed and are ready to do their best.
On Sunday October 19th, St. Margaret's congregation were told of the action that had been taken in their name to help their friend in need.
  • Within an hour $160 had begin given to replenish the church coffers.
  • Within a day another $1000 as a donation from one person.
  • Within the week a total of $640 more, including one donation of $AUD500.
In faith St. Margaret's sent $AUD2835 at God's call. In faith St. Margaret's family returned $AUD2500 to replenish the coffers.

In this crisis it was uplifting to be among a congregation whose heartfelt prayer support and practical donations were so generous. Somehow God needed St. Margaret's - of all the donor sources in the world - to take action to complete the education of these 57 vulnerable youths.

But does it have to be like this? A small congregation may be God's helping hand in times of crisis, but where is the donor of $US150,000 annually that will put RYDA on a secure, sustainable footing so they can offer a future to hundreds of Ugandan youths rather than tens???

September 2008

Some encouraging news this month, but the big problem of finding a donor partner or partners to provide sustainable income of only $US150,000 per annum remains to be solved. Through the tireless efforts of the Executive Director, staff and Board the organisation continues to survive day to day. But we know it would reach, and change the lives of, six times the number of young people if it had this funding.

Geoffrey's Healing
Geoffrey's injuries from the accident (see August 2008) are healing and he has returned to work. In an email he displays his continuing positive outlook:

Greetings from the RYDA community where I have returned to work and Uganda in general. It's raining here heavily and it has been hectic at the Centre but at least we do not need to spend money on water now. What a blessing in disguise.

Learning about RYDA at Kalinda Primary School
Some weeks ago we presented Where in the World is RYDA? to the Years 3 - 6 students at this school in Ringwood, Victoria. It was the beginning of African Studies for the Year 5/6 classes and now they are ready to show us what they have learnt. Teachers and students have worked very hard and you must see the photos of their displays. They are still working to raise money for RYDA.

Any teachers who would like to know more about how this unit was structured can contact Doug. Williams ( and ask for the email address of the key teacher involved.

Donation from St. Margaret's
RYDA has received $US844 donation from St. Margaret's Uniting Church. This was $AUD1103.91 and it included an amount for Ugandan bank fees and an anonymous donation of $AUD500. A special thank you to that person or family.

As you can see from this email, these funds were very welcome:

Dear Doug,
This is a quick message to let you know that today we have recieved $US844 in our account.

I want to extend our sincere appreciation to you and the entire St. Margaret's Uniting Church for the support. These funds will be used to purchase food items and pay electricity for our office and the girls dormitory.

We have been in the real crisis and I did not know what to do with the feeding for the children.

We have really appreciation this financial support to our organisation. Though the needs are ernormous, at least we have something in our store now to feed the children for a while.

God bless you all.
Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, Executive Director, RYDA

August 2008

This is turning out to be a terrible year for Rubaga Youth Development Association and personally for Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, its Executive Director.

  • The organisation has struggled to find sufficient funding to continue its highly successful services.
  • Geoffrey redeveloped malaria in March and was commanded to rest.
  • Geoffrey's daughter Doreen had to be operated on for a hole in the heart, an operation which comes with no guarantees of success, but fortunately Doreen seems to have recovered well.
  • ...AND NOW...
Geoffrey is recovering from serious wounds following a motor vehicle accident and is unable to work for at least two more weeks.
Please pray for a complete recovery and for the revelation of consistent long term core funding for RYDA.

How Did It Happen?
Geoffrey needed to go to town from the Centre, but could not afford fuel for the RYDA vehicle. So he took public transport - a local 14 seater community bus. The bus was involved in an accident with a private vehicle and crashed into a ditch beside the road.

  • Seven passengers died.
  • Two sustained broken limbs and other injuries.
  • Geoffrey was one of five who escaped unbroken but with serious wounds to his head, chest and neck. He also has chest pain which at this stage is undiagnosed.
  • All had to be cut from the wreckage.
Irene, Geoffrey's wife, was told that he had died. It wasn't until she came to claim the body that she discovered otherwise.

When I spoke to him by telephone this week he told me of this awful accident and then commented:

I have survived. God wants me to continue this work.
At The Centre
At this moment everything at the Centre in Buloba is operating day to day, hand to mouth. Fifty children remain at the Centre but there is little funding to support them. RYDA has been borrowing and begging food. The Centre is due to re-open in two weeks following summer break. Lydia, a former street child whom RYDA has supported through to university studies, and the RYDA accountant are working hard to hold things together.

Application for support has been made to the Uganda Aids Commission, but no response has yet been received. At the end of July, representatives of a Belgian NGO, Echo Communication, visited the Centre. We don't know what the outcome will be after their visit. However they were fascinated with RYDA's work and suggested two further contacts. These have been followed up but are also awaiting response.

Tell The Story
Can we do anything to help? Yes. Tell and retell the story of RYDA to encourage short and long term support.

And, following a very successful inaugural presentation for Kalinda Primary School, we now have a guest speaker willing and able to present that story to schools, clubs and churches in an entertaining, captivating way:

Click the picture to find our
Guest Speaker Presentation

July 2008

Email July 14th

  • Doreen is improving steadily and on Thursday went to hospital for the final check-up. Geoffrey and Irene continue to be thankful for prayers and support during her illness.
  • In two weeks RYDA will be starting second term Exams. The organisation is very grateful for support which has helped to keep the Centre open to allow orphaned and vulnerable children this opportunity.
  • Fifteen children who recently sat their final examinations are involved in field work practices and the feedbacks from their possible employers are encouraging.
  • Quoting from Geoffrey
    Though we have not yet identified a (long term) donor to support us we have not despaired. This month we were visited by a French journalist who was advised by one person to come and learn from an African NGO and he chose to visit us. He promised to publish our activities to the French as he was fascinated with what he saw at RYDA centre. Also on 28th July we will be visited by a Belgian NGO called Echo Communication and they want to know what RYDA is doing. You never know what will come from this visit.
Since this message the problem of paying the electricity bill has returned. Currently children can be fed, but there is not enough money left to pay for the electricity to run the computers. We know this because Geoffrey has been able to get a couple of messages through from an Internet Cafe in Kampala.

Action at St. Margaret's

  • In the continuing search for a long term donor partner for RYDA, a letter was written at the beginning of the month to Icross, Canada, introducing them to the need and testifying to the success of the organisation in advocating for orphaned and vulnerable children. No reply has been received as yet.
  • Doug. Williams, RYDA Support Co-ordinator, will give a presentation about RYDA to over 100 Years 5 & 6 students at Kalinda Primary School on August 4th. Prayers for success would be welcomed. Douglas has plenty of presentation experience, but this will the first time he has presented on behalf of Geoffrey and RYDA. The classes are beginning an Africa theme and the teachers wanted to make it more relevant and purposeful than lions and elephants. Hopefully we will soon be able to report on their growing understanding of human need and their follow-up responses.

June 2008

Personal Crisis & Healing
We were shocked earlier this month to learn that Geoffrey & Irene's daughter, Doreen, had been diagnosed with a hole in her heart. This was all the more worrying because another daughter, Jennifer, had been diagnosed with the same problem in 1998 and had not survived the operation.

The family's many friends have prayed constantly for the medical staff to be successful in their efforts to heal Doreen and we are delighted to quote from a recent email from Geoffrey:

The good thing is that Doreen had a successful operation and is progressing on well. She has started eating normally and she is talking normally. Thanks for your support and prayers.
Thanks to the generous support of friends in Africa and Australia, and the sale of their family cow, the associated hospital bill has also been paid.
Irene & Doreen

At the RYDA Centre
Geoffrey has now returned to work and writes:

The total number children currently undergoing training at the centre is 126. Out of these there are 46 students who are now undergoing their final government examination which started Monday 23rd.

Thanks for the support you rendered to us to re-open the centre. Food prices and fuel costs have gone up tremendously however at least we stocked some food to take us through next month. Electricity bills have been paid and two month salaries for the instructor.

The struggle continues. I attended the UNDP (see last month's news) and they included us as their partner but nothing concrete has been cemented but a try was done. Also, before Doreen's operation, I submitted a proposal to the AIDS commission funding and am praying that may be they would assist if they find it interesting.

Trying from this side is a process but God knows our plans. All of us shall try to see that we don't close indefinitely. God's power will prevail one day. I trust in Him. He gave us the centre, you and other friends and we are there for a cause.

Other very positive news from the centre is:
  • An AusAid grant (see August 2007 News), which was organised through the Australian High Commission office in Nairobi to support 50 orphans and vulnerable youths to undergo training, has resulted in 46 completing their training after sitting for the DIT Examinations last week. Out of the 12 students who sat for the Catering course RYDA managed to connect 7 to hotels - IVY's Hotel 3, Namirembe Guest House 2, and Hotel Equatorial 2. Efforts are being made to assist the other 5 students.
  • Financial assistance were extended to community members in Namayumba Sub-counties.
  • A donation of $US1000 from the Global Fund for Children, a US based organisation, was received and spent on the training materials.
St. Margaret's church wishes to add its thanks to AusAID, Global Fund for Children and the hotels named, for their support of RYDA's work. We look forward to add your continued support of this wonderful organisation.

May 2008


At the end of April, Melanda Schmid from the Environmental Youth Alliance was encouraged to visit RYDA on the recommendation of representatives of Save the Children, Norway. Making contact turned out to be a circuitous process, involving email through Australia, but the objective of meeting with Geoffrey and staff to discuss youth issues in Uganda was achieved. On May 12th Melanda wrote:

My visit to RYDA was excellent and I was impressed greatly by the facility and programs there. I have connected Geoffrey with Immaculate Gitta (United Nations Development Programme), in charge of Kampala's One Stop Centre, and hope that a future partnership may develop. My own involvement is relatively limited, as I am working specifically on supporting a website for the One Stop Centres, but, as I said, I have made the connection and Immaculate seemed hopeful that RYDA could come on board as one of the One Stop project's partners.
The next day she wrote to Geoffrey thanking him for the visit and the opportunity to photograph the RYDA Centre for the web site. Again she encouraged building a partnership with the UN initiative.

It is our hope that God is the architect of this connection and that RYDA will be strengthened and more of Uganda's youths will lead more positive lives as a result.


The wonderful people of St. Margaret's Uniting Church (including an anonymous donor of $1000) have recently made two transfers to the RYDA account. On April 30th $US1447.15 was sent and on May 8th a further $US1057 left our shores.

We know this will help Rubaga Youth Development Association to re-open on May 18th, even if it is with reduced services, but it does not solve the long term need for annual support of $US150,000 to secure the core program. Geoffrey tells us the funds have been spent to on food and medicine to support RYDA's rebirth.

If you want to contribute to RYDA's work, now or at any time in the future, please contact St. Margaret's treasurer, or do so directly yourself, using the information in How Can I Support RYDA.


Sunday May 18th, RYDA will re-open. Some time on that day - perhaps many times on that day - please stop what you are doing and offer a prayer for every possible blessing on Geoffrey, the staff and the children.

April 2008
Things have become much worse at RYDA in the last month. The following email tells the story.

Dear Doug Williams,
I have been down with high blood pressure. I have a lot on my mind. Thinking on what will happen next we had to break off until next month, 18th May 2008, as we had nothing to feed the children with.

Power has been cut from most of the building to the center and we are now in blackout. Only the office block has been connected back as we needed to communicate to our beloved friends and receive messages if any. Things are now beyond my control without any funding.

One good news is that this month we received one box from Saint Paul's Overseas Aid Group containing sports uniforms.

However, the current situation at RYDA is hectic without food, training material and instructors salaries. I don't know what I can do. Only miracles can make this situation changed. But I have not lost hope. With God everything is possible. Anyway let me not bother you much with our critical problems. As I am writing this message tears are coming from the eyes. What makes me continue doing what I am doing is the compassion I have for these vulnerable children and young people.

Send my greetings to all our friends and people of good will.

God bless you,
Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune
Executive Director, RYDA

What Geoffrey hopes to happen on May 18th is unknown. But it is clear that if it isn't significant funding, the organisation cannot re-open.

St. Margaret's Uniting Church, Australia, has written many letters to businesses and charities seeking long term secure funding for RYDA. But it seems, despite the evidence this site provides of the capacity of the organisation to provide a practical and purposeful future for hundreds of street youths, the Western World is unable to respond with funding of just $US150,000 per year.

March 2008
March has not been a good month for RYDA.

  • Executive Director, Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, redeveloped malaria and was ordered to bed.
  • Early in the month Geoffrey was able to borrow a sack of cassava to help feed the young people.
  • Mid-month RYDA had only 100kg of maize and 15kg of sugar left in its store. These are the staple foods for 200 youths. What happens when it runs out???
  • Staff have not been paid and have had to leave to find other income.
  • A partner donor is needed to underwrite RYDA's core work. See January/February eNews for background.
St. Margaret's have continued to search for that donor. Many letters have been sent to large corporations and to charitable organisations seeking a philanthropic response. Thank you to those who have suggested various avenues. To date, none has been forthcoming.

RYDA has already proven that it can change lives in a positive, sustainable way. But it needs help - in the long term just $US150,000 per annum. That is the amount Monica is paid for one episode of Friends.

Please pray that:

  • one of these letters will soon reach the right person
  • RYDA's short-term needs are met on a daily basis until the long term solution is found.
You can donate to those needs through St. Margaret's Uniting Church. Contact the Treasurer.

January/February 2008

The World Turns Upside-Down

Through no fault of its own, RYDA's work is at risk of crumbling!!
More than a decade spent building one of the most successful NGOs in Africa and two things have come together in January to undermine all that work.
  1. Save The Children, an arm of the UN, has had to move its priorities elsewhere. In recent years they have provided significant funding for RYDA's core work.
  2. Civil unrest in Kenya has severely disrupted the flow of goods into Uganda. Uganda is land-locked and for many years has relied on much of its needs being transported through Kenya.
The result of number one is that at this moment RYDA does not know if it can find the funds to feed its youth, the materials to train them or wages for their trainers.

The result of number two is that prices have risen astronomically in Uganda. At one point in January diesel fuel rose to $US10 per litre in Kampala - if you could find it. The simple act of going to market to purchase basic food immediately became ten times more expensive.

Email from Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, 13/02/2008

Greetings from Uganda and RYDA in general. Indeed it is a challenging time for us here at RYDA especially now that we are not having any funding.

Some interesting news is that the final result for our children who sat for the final Examinations last year in December passed very well and only two students failed. We were the best in the country in the Electrical Installation/Electronics and Bricklaying.

Also I have managed to place Diana in the her new school for her studies she is now at the Kawempe Royal College School. We pray her next two years are successful.

Email from Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, 18/02/2008
Things are not going well at the centre due to delay of paying our instructors for a period of two months. Three have left. This is just a beginning as some are even threatening to quit if they are not paid by the end of the month - lack of training material; electricity bills for two months have not been paid. Really this has put me in a world of new challenges with RYDA. It is a critical problem. If we lack the financial support many problems may arise.
Rubaga Youth Development Association needs a donor NOW to provide just $US150,000 annually to secure its core work.
RYDA's core work is maintaining the Buloba Centre and its community outreach programs and activities. It includes project staff salaries and wages, materials and office expenses.
Surely there is a philanthropist, philanthropic trust or large corporation that could find that amount and have change from the interest on their investments.

Please supply the name and address of any potential donor partner to Doug. Williams, RYDA Support Co-ordinator, St. Margaret's Uniting Church:
and a letter will be written.

Give God A Go

As mentioned in the previous news, on December 12th St. Margaret's treasurer transferred $US3302.44 to the RYDA account. After publication of that news, on December 20th, St. Margaret's provided a further $US1896.82, raised from various sources, to kick start 2008.

Without the Spirit of God moving through this congregation, RYDA would, by now, have been in an even more desperate situation than described above.

RYDA needs you to be open to the Spirit for the next level of support to be found.