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November/December 2007

Visit To Australia
November was a big month for RYDA and St. Margaret's Uniting Church in Australia. RYDA director, Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, brought his wife Irene and two youngest children Doreen and Daniella to visit their St. Margaret's family. The purpose was simply rest and recreation. As you will see below, it didn't quite work like that.

There were great fun times, such as:
  • Living the first week with Terry and Carol Ruthford and the next two with Doug. Williams & Ina Koetsier and joining in various family gatherings.
  • Worshipping at St. Margaret's.
  • Visiting Phillip Island.
  • Taking Doreen to Music Together classes at St. Margaret's, which is a Uniting Church outreach activity to young families (and, in Doug's case, old grandparents) to help parents and children bond through song, sound, dance and rhythm.

There were important work times, such as:

  • Helping to sell toys for the homeless at the church fête.
  • Meeting with Steve Bradbury at T.E.A.R.
  • Meeting with fellow youth workers at Anchor Lilydale.
  • Meeting once more with the wonderful ladies at St. Paul's Overseas Aid who include RYDA among the many organisations they support around the world.
  • Presenting an illustrated talk to students at Croydon Secondary College who have supported RYDA through a Breakfast for Africa program over the past two years.
But there were some tough moments too.

What do you do if you are half a world away and receive an email from your deputy director to tell you that the staple food (maize flour) has run out and he doesn't know how he is going to feed the 260 youths in the care of the organisation?

Clearly Geoffrey could do nothing but encourage his deputy to use the organisation's Ugandan network for temporary support ... and pray.

But St. Margaret's could do something. A congregation of some 90 members, most of whom are retired or heading for it, can't feed 160 young people on an on-going basis. But St. Margaret's is always working for RYDA and had some money in the bank. Within 30 hours $US446.25 was transferred to the RYDA account for emergency food purchase.

You can help to support RYDA through this crisis time while a long term donor is found to support their wonderful work. It would only take about $US150,000 annually to run their core program. In the scale of humanitarian aid, this is chicken feed.

  • Pray for a long term donor partner to be found.
  • Tell others about the success of RYDA and their continuing need.
  • Ask for RYDA Gift Certificates for Christmas, or give them yourself. See above.
  • Purchase some cute 'n' cuddly Aussie Toys to give as presents. See above.
  • Donate through St. Margaret's church at any time. 100% of every donation is passed on to RYDA
Return to Uganda
The family all arrived home safely after some 18 hours, although Doreen developed a cold after arrival as a result of air conditioning in the plane. This email from Geoffrey tells more:
Dear Doug Williams,
We arrived safely back home and on Tuesday. The work load at the centre after the absence of three weeks is enormous. I have today 152 e-mails to answer and this is a challenge for today.
Yesterday, we had a severe rainfall which we have not seen for many years which damaged our kitchen and it needs quick attention. Also our other neighbours the Buloba Teacher Training College and primary school were affected.
Due to strong wind, all our banana plantation was also affected.
Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune
Executive Director, RYDA
Two weeks later the Kyeyune family was personally hit by tragedy. Irene's mother was killed in a car crash. Now it is us who can do nothing but pray.

St. Margaret's Gives Thanks
On December 12th St. Margaret's treasurer transferred $US3302.44 to the RYDA account. $US230.52 of this amount was collected by the Friends of Diana. Diana has just completed formal schooling which was the objective the group undertook to support, however, this additional payment is a gift towards her future education and hopefully will encourage generous others to take up the baton.

The remainder of the transfer was was made up of:

  • sales of soft toys
  • Croydon Secondary College Breakfast for Africa program (which contributed $AUD455)
  • St. Margaret's weekly 'RYDA Box'
  • an unnamed donation
  • and other fundraising efforts such as the sale of biscuits
We expect this balance will help build staple food stocks to begin the new year.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this marvellous result. The Spirit of God has moved you. Listen.

October 2007

  • Christmas Now

    Christmas Gift Certificates are back
    This is your big chance to return meaning to Christmas.
    One click ... one minute ... read and respond ... change lives.

    Cute, Cuddly Toys for Christmas
    Aussie Animals help homeless kids.
    Christmas 2007 only. A must give for your kids.
    One click ... one minute ... read and respond ... change lives.

  • News From RYDA
    Executive Director, Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune tells us:
    It is Sunday 28th October 2007 that the efforts of St. Margaret's Uniting Church of Mooroolbark and RYDA will be realised. Lydia will be graduating from the Bugema University with a Diploma of Social Work and Social Administration (SWASA). We are looking forward to a successful day. After graduating Lydia will be going back to pursue a degree in Human Resource and Development at St. Lawrence University for three years.

    Diana who is being supported currently by Friends of Diana of St. Margaret's started sitting for her final UNEB Exams on 15th October 2007 we are closely praying for them to reflect the effort she has shown in this arena.

    Yesterday, October 21st, we held yet another Exhibition day for the RYDA Centre. Thanks for the continued support which has made this possible. Parents, benefactors and community leaders enjoyed the day. The children and guests were given a good lunch. One bull from the RYDA farm was slaughtered.

September 2007
  • Students Successfully Employed
    Some of the former trainees from the RYDA centre have continued to be employed by the public entrepreneurs and private institutions. Five former students have been employed by reputable hotels to exercise their full potential. Ivan, aged 19 years, a former trainee from the streets of Kampala is now employed at a prominent carpentry centre in the city of Kampala. Kanatta Phillip has come back to train the students in computer repair and programming. How wonderful to have another former student of the RYDA centre become part of the staff.
  • University Success
    Lydia, who was sponsored through school by the Millar family of St. Margaret's, will be graduating from the University in social work/social administration this October 28th. She has been enrolled for another degree in Human Resource Management. Thank God that this has been a successful story.
  • Pray For Success
    Diana, who is currently being sponsored through school by a St. Margaret's support group, will begin her final examinations starting from 15th October. Pray for her to achieve her intended goals and aspirations. She has started seeing her dream come true.
  • Success From Australian Government Support
    AusAID supported training of 50 Orphaned or Vulnerable Children (OVCs) continues in a range of skills. Early feedback suggests the communities of Busuukuma and Namayumba have been appreciative of this project.
  • Visitors to RYDA: A Measure of Success
    • The International Child Resource Institute-Africa officials from their regional office in Nairobi will be visiting RYDA in the next few weeks to learn from our organisational experiences.
    • On 28/09/07 COWA students will be visiting RYDA centre to learn from what we are doing in empowering the young people.
    • On 3rd september an Evaluation team from World Food Program (WFP) came to RYDA to find out the OVC and HIV/AIDS program have been conducted.The RYDA Director has been invited by the National Council for Children to participate in the planning workshop due to take place on 28th September at WAYS office in Nateete.
  • The Good With The Bad
    • On a sad note, due to torrential rain in many parts of the country, many schools, totalling to 174 in the eastern part of the country, have not opened. Some roads are even impassable. Classrooms have been demolished by the rain and some of the food gardens have been destroyed. Perhaps the global warming effects are beginning to show signs because this rain is much more than the usual rain which falls in Uganda.
    • On the good side the RYDA expenditure on water has reduced as a result of this torrential rain.
August 2007
  • Bonza Baby Coming To Australia
    In the previous issue we told you about the birth of Daniella, the youngest daughter of the RYDA Director, Geoffrey Steven and his wife Irene. This month we can tell you that Geoffrey, Irene, Daniella and their second youngest, Doreen are arriving in Australia on November 4th for three weeks of R & R. St. Margaret's is happy to host our friends once more and very excited about meeting the children.

    The visit is largely to draw breath again after a couple of tough years fighting the daily battle of feeding, housing, clothing and educating hundreds of vulnerable youth, but there is no doubt that Geoffrey will be involved with some meetings during his time in Australia.

  • AusAID Supports RYDA
    In May we told you Lucy Kirimi, Programme Manager, AusAid from the Australian High Commission office in Nairobi, Kenya visited RYDA Centre at Buloba and was happy with what she saw. We can now tell you that AusAid have committed to a one year project to support RYDA's HIV/AIDs work. Well done to the Australian Government.

    In response to the funding RYDA are already supporting 50 young people affected by HIV/AIDs with vocational skills training in the two sub-counties of Namayumba and Busuukuma of Wakiso District. Also providing them with Micro-Enterprise training and Capacity Building courses. Geoffrey reports this project is already going well.

  • Toy Story Continues
    Yes, St. Margaret's church is still selling brand new Australian Animal stuffed toys to raise funds which will be divided equally between the needs of homeless youths in our area and in Uganda.
    • If you missed the article, read Toy Story.
    • In total just under $4,000 has been raised to date.
    • Toys are still available. Get in early for Christmas. Contact Graeme Munday, whose details you will find in the Toy Story article.

  • Speaking of Christmas
    Christmas Gift Certificates which support RYDA by providing you with the perfect gift for those who have everything will be available again this year. You will receive details in the October News, but start planning now to make this part of your Christmas giving.

  • St. Margaret's Gives Again
    This remarkable congregation, which has now supported RYDA for more than a decade, has somehow found another $US905.24 to donate. This donation is even more remarkable when you know the congregation is comparatively small with an distribution seriously weighted to the retired end of the scale.
    Does this inspire you to listen for how God is asking you to support this wonderful African self-help organisation?

    $US200 of this amount was to support a particular student, Diana, in the last term of her Secondary education. A small team has been sponsoring her through her years of schooling. The balance will be spent stocking the RYDA clinic with medications.

July 2007
  • Bonza Baby
    Congratulations to Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune and wife Irene on the recent birth of a healthy baby daughter named Daniella Mellisa Nanyonga. We don't have a photo but we believe mother and daughter are doing well ... and that father went straight back to his work as Executive Director of the amazing Rubaga Youth Development Association (RYDA).

  • Toy Story Continues
    In May we told you about God's gift of thousands of brand new Australian Animal stuffed toys to St. Margaret's church and the congregation's decision to sell them and split the proceeds between the needs of homeless youths in our area and in Uganda.
    • If you missed the article, read Toy Story.
    • Since then $2,500 has been raised and this amount is rising.
    • Two cartons of small toys were sent to RYDA for distribution, postage paid for by Black Douglas and St. Margaret's. RYDA chose to give one to every girl child at the centre. We are told they have all been named and are waiting on their beds for them every afternoon after training.
    • Read a letter from the girls below.

Thanks for our Toys

Dear Friends from Australia.

On behalf of the RYDA students we write to extend our sincere gratitude to our beloved friends in Australia for thinking about us; especially the girls of RYDA who cherished this donation most. Now the Girls' dormitory beds are decorated with a toy on each bed. What a pet for everybody. Your selection was marvellous.

Sarah misses the bigger toys. Next time don't hesitate to send to us bigger ones as we need them for comfort after the all day training. This is a joke. We appreciate whatever donation you give our institution. Mary Namusoke has named her toy Jelly and Sarah Nakato has named hers a Ugandan name Nakirya because for her it sounds strange to give it a name she can not associate with.

Warburton Market
Marj Hookey & Ina Koetsier from St. Margaret's
spent a very cold day at Warburton Market.

We look forward to visiting your country and if possible you visiting us in Uganda to see for yourself what we do at our centre and our villages. For everybody who received the toys at the centre we are excited and please send our deep most thanks to those who spared time to think about their friends in Uganda. What a donation.!!!!!!!!!!.

May the Almighty God bless you even more in your ever helping hand.

From your beloved African Girls at Rubaga Youth Development Association,
Namusoke Mary & Nakato Sarah

May 2007

The big news this month was the start of the ongoing fund raising we call Toy Story. Take a look at the link. April 2007

We have a few snippets of news from Africa this month. All except one are wonderful, and that one just might change with your help.

1.   Expanded Computer Training
Last month we recorded a wonderful funds transfer to RYDA which was a combination of a huge donation from the staff of Trädgårdsstadsskolan, Sweden, and the regular work of the people of St. Margaret's Uniting Church, Australia. With these fund, RYDA has managed to strengthen their computer training section with four second hand, reliable computers and the training has commenced.

Be Proud
Sample Letter
Dear Ms. Kirimi,

I am aware that you recently visited Rubaga Youth Development Association in Uganda. I believe you are impressed with their work. As an Australian supporter of this organisation, I know something of the hard work and passion which has brought the success you perceived.

I also know that RYDA desperately needs consistent, continuing high level support to sustain and expand its work. Australian individuals and groups have led the way in supporting this organisation; now our government can act assured of success. I am aware that Africa has low government priority for distribution of AusAid funds, but I believe you can influence that policy.

Your head knows it would be good for RYDA and good for the Australian government to be seen directly supporting one of the few very successful African NGOs. Please let your heart guide you to influence our Australian government in this direction.


2.   On the Tele
RYDA staff have done a TV talk show about RYDA activities on Record TV and every body was very happy with the work which RYDA is doing for the young people.

3.   Exam Success Leads to Jobs
From Geoffrey: Our children who sat for the UNEB examination performed very well. Ten of these orphaned youths have got employment and they have started working.

4.   Visit from AusAid
During March, RYDA was visited by Lucy Kirimi, Programme Manager, AusAid from the Australian High Commission office in Nairobi, Kenya. Lucy was apparently very happy with what RYDA is doing, but apparently cannot offer Australian Government funds.

Perhaps we can influence that decision. Lucy's email address is
Australians have supported RYDA for more than a decade through the generosity and dedication of groups and individuals. The people's support has led the way; now our government can act assured of success. RYDA desperately needs consistent, continuing high level support to sustain and expand its work. Please write to Lucy to encourage her to alter Australian Government policy to include RYDA in its overseas aid budget. The sample letter opposite would not take you long to copy, modify and send.

March 2007

1.   Wonderful Exam Results
This email from Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, Executive Director, which arrived on a Sunday, speaks for itself.

Dear Doug Williams,
I could not wait for tomorrow to tell you this news. Today the National Examination Board released the Vocational Skills Examination result and our RYDA children performed very well. It is all excitement at the centre. Out of 102 students who sat for the exams only 4 failed. And those who failed only failed their theory papers not the Practicals.

Thanks for the St Margaret's Uniting church financial support which enabled us to buy the materials which we used to facilitate the exams.

God bless you all at St Margaret's Uniting Church who always contribute the funds to execute our work.

Rubaga Youth Development Association

2.   Purpose & Program on Paper
RYDA has just published its 2006 Annual Report and several brochures about the organisation and the life skills courses it runs. These documents are now on site as PDF files and give a clear, graphic and positive message about the on-going success of this organisation. Please:
  • take a look and improve your understanding of the organisation you are supporting
  • print key documents and use them to inform others
3.   Unexpected Support: Part A
What a joy it is when a donation comes from an unexpected source. On this occasion the staff of Trädgårdsstadsskolan, Tullinge (near Stockholm), Sweden. Around $US450+ is a fantastic donation from such a small group of caring people. Thank you.

Carpentry Course
Perhaps the pathway which led to the donation is just as fascinating:
  • Two members of staff (Per och Maria) have friends in Australia.
  • They stayed with their Australian friends in the weeks before Christmas.
  • Their friends attend St. Margaret's church.
  • During the visit they learnt about RYDA because the RYDA Christmas Gift Certificates were a topic of conversation.
  • On return to Sweden they explained about RYDA to their colleagues who agreed to donate proceeds from a regular charity fund raising event held by the staff.
Many would see the Spirit of God at work here.

4.   Unexpected Support: Part B
St. Paul's Overseas Aid, Kew, Australia, have surprised again. The hand of God is at work here too. Judge for yourself the importance of their gift:

Last week I received the two boxes sent by St Paul's Overseas Aid Group of used clothes comprising of used women clothes and some men clothes. Today I managed to distribute the used clothes to young girls.
Our thanks also to these wonderful ladies, and to Bronwyn Williams who introduced them to Geoffrey and the needs of RYDA.

February 2007

  1. Micah Network Member
    Fantastic News! RYDA and its Executive Director, Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, have been admitted as full members to the Micah Network. This international biblically-based organisation is established to promote communication and the exchange of information within a Christian framework on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged of the world. It's web site supports child advocacy, community development, HIV/Aids understanding and a host of other areas through case studies, discussion forums, conferences and so on. This will be an important platform for a much wider audience to come to know the energy, successes and needs of RYDA. Some of RYDA's documentation, for example a case study on Child-headed Families, is currently being reviewed for inclusion.

    However, Micah Network is not a donor organisation. We still need to find a large scale international donor organisation to underwrite the work of RYDA and thus guarantee the continuation of its successes.

    Why should one of the few long-standing, demonstrably successful self-help African NGOs have to worry about whether it can pay its electricity bill??

  2. Christmas Gift Certificates a Success
    $AUD722.93 was donated through the Gift Certificate program. Not bad for a first year with the concept. The money came from Australia and USA and, as God would have it, was transfered to the RYDA account - 100% remember, no costs removed - at a very timely moment. Their administrator was wondering how they were going to pay the electricity bill due on December 23rd. They were able to pay and have change for food.

    Perhaps in 2007 donations might be received from good-hearted neighbours in many countries. It's pretty much up to you in that regard - and how God is able to touch your heart. Tell others about the scheme. You don't have to wait until Christmas. You can still read about the idea in the How To Support RYDA link.

    Personally, I received three certificates signed by donors from among my friends and family. I am keeping then in a folder in the hope that I will build up a collection over the years. I am thinking we might redesign the certificate each year, so that people like me can see the years pass colourfully.

  3. Extra Donations from St. Margaret's
    Beyond being the receiver for the Christmas donations, St. Margaret's also collected an additional $AUD492.40 through their own special efforts, and their sponsor child support group, Friends of Diana, transfered fees for Diana's next school term. Great work. Thanks team.

  4. Breakfast for Africa
    Croydon Secondary College Chaplain reports that the second semester of their program to provide breakfast for students in return for a small donation to RYDA has been successful on two fronts. Catrina reports that over 60 days the initiative provided breakfast to 420 'paying' students and an additional 180 free meals to students in need, resulting in $AUD201.05. She offers a very big thank you to St. Margaret's and Croydon North Uniting Churches ...for their awesome support both physically and financially.
    There are plans for the program to continue in 2007.
Pancakes for Breakfast
Pancakes for breakfast today. Yum!