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December 2009

Christmas Gift Certificates

This month we have only one focus. We ask you to consider RYDA Christmas Gift Certificates this year. How you give to others and how you ask them to give to you will offer practical, hands-on hope to RYDA.

October 2009

Hope For Sustained Funding
During October Geoffrey was invited to a meeting in Kampala of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which is a division of the United Nations. This organisation has supported RYDA in the past and is considering doing so again. In Geoffrey's words ...there is a possibility that they might support RYDA next year after the visit at the centre next month. Please pray that this becomes a reality.

The basis for the support would be that in offering education and vocational assistance to street youths, RYDA is actively working to remove them from the potential clutches of child or exploited labour.

Geoffrey is currently preparing a proposal at the request of ILO as part of its International Project on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC).

Celebration Time
Friday October 30 is a celebration day at RYDA with many former students. The following week is the next round of government exams. We wish everyone well for a warm, family celebration day and pray that each student sitting exams is inspired to present their very best work.

Perhaps more importantly though, we pause to consider. For almost two years, including an international financial crisis, RYDA has had no large scale sustained funding and yet the organisation has continued to provide opportunity for street youths to educate for a better future. The staff and supporters of this organisation have created their own small miracle.

Is it right that they should have to continue this battle without sustained first world support?

Christmas Is Coming... you really need those presents? It's great that your family and friends want to spend money on you to show how much they care, but how about if you pass on that care with an extra dash of your own. Ask your family to give you a value added RYDA Christmas Gift Certificate this year and give practical, hands-on hope to RYDA.

Life is Different in Uganda
This message arrived a few days after the previous eNews was distributed. It tells its own story about the day to day life at the RYDA Centre.

Dear Friends,

I hereby write to give you some updates on what is happening here at RYDA. The graduation ceremony went well. The turn up of past students was good and the graduands were given one bull to slaughter from the RYDA school farm.

On the ILO/IPEC proposal we have submitted to them it will depend on their screening committee. About 12 organisations have been identified and the best five will be supported to implement the child labour project for two years. Pray for us so that we are among the five organisations to be given a go ahead.

On a sad note, one of staff, the instructor for motor vehicles, has resigned because of low pay and has joined Uganda Wildlife Authority were he was given a new job. It hurts to loose him but what to do without dependable funding. Anyway that is life - everything has an ending - and we pray for him in his new assignment.

Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune

September 2009

This month we continue our feature helping us get to know the people of RYDA by introducing you to staff member Simon Ntambi. We would have liked to include photos but at the moment RYDA does not own a working digital camera.

Let Me Introduce You To...

Simon Ntambi
Electrical Instructor
I have been selected by RYDA team to be the one to share with the rest of the world my personal experience with RYDA's centre.

Am by name Ntambi Simon aged 26 years, currently the electrical instructor at RYDA centre. I was brought up and raised in single mother family who helped me to have a better future. A lot can be said about such an experience in such an environment. In a family of 8, I am privileged to say that I am fortunate for being at RYDA to pray to help the vulnerable young people with electrical skills.

I came to RYDA with a hope of getting employment and as soon as I approached the RYDA Director I saw a team leader totally different from all those I have worked with. Many admire him for being a facilitator and a good listener who gives a chance to all those at his centre to have a sense of belonging. This attracted me to stay at the centre to help him in the challenges he faces daily. I want to be a part of the solution.

I am now more motivated by his approach to work and the sense he displays working with the young and old. All see him a part of the solution to many problems he faces daily. I want to write to extend my appreciation to you and St. Margaret's Uniting church for supporting him for such along time. You are friends indeed.

The bell is ringing and I have to go and train the children, but as I end my simple story let me note that things can happen at RYDA and this gives us a devotion to continue.

Director Sick Again
During the latter part of August and into September Director, Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, was again very ill. He was sent home for some weeks to recover from malaria and rest to reduce his high blood pressure. Many have been praying for the return of his good health and we can report that Geoffrey has now returned to work on a half-time basis. This will continue until he fully recovers.

Geoffrey writes:

Send my warm greetings to all those who supported me during this testing time.

Giving Is My Gift
We have two examples this month of people giving to RYDA in unusual ways - unusual ways that will perhaps become more common.

  • Jean Allan from St. Margaret's Uniting Church reached a significant birthday and gathered a good bunch of friends for a celebration. The only present she requested was that people would donate to RYDA. As a result of that little party $51.45 was raised.
  • Scott Williams, in his younger days a member of the same congregation, offered his Dad good wishes for Father's Day, then pleased him greatly by transferring the value of a present to St. Margaret's RYDA account.
Think about it. When your birthday, Christmas etc. comes around, do you really need anything the family could give you? Would it be a greater gift, from you and the family, if you were to forego a present and redirect the value of the potential gift to RYDA in a similar way?

August 2009

More Giving
Last month we reported on a generous gift from John & Mary De Bono of Groupwise Australia. Before that could be sent another substantial donation appeared anonymously in the offering plate at St. Margaret's Uniting Church. In total then $1504.14 was transferred to the RYDA account on July 22nd, which included an amount paid from St. Margaret's funds for Ugandan bank fees.

On July 24th we received this response from Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, Executive Director:

Dear Doug Williams, Let me hope you are okay and fine. I have received your message of funds transfer today. I hope it will be on our account next week.

But on how the funds will be used, we shall use it to stock food for the children, pay electricity bills, pay for internet service and buy some materials for the training of the children.

For the first time in Uganda drought is hitting most of the parts and people are now starving and in Teso for example some people have died. Even some animals are dying. Pray for us. Some water has started drying up, so this donation will go along way in helping to stock the food in time. For further information don't hesitate to read Uganda newspapers on line:

Note: These sites sometimes have difficulty displaying.

Send my greetings to all those who have kept our dreams a reality.

Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune.

Rockefeller Can't Help
We received the following message from the Rockefeller Foundation on August 2nd:

Thank you for your recent idea submission to the Rockefeller Foundation, which has been reviewed by Foundation staff. Unfortunately, at this time, we are not able to pursue this concept. Please accept our assurances that this decision does not reflect on the merit of your idea, but rather on the initiatives currently under exploration at the Foundation.

All ideas received by the Foundation inform our efforts to identify trends, funding gaps and opportunities and may help influence the development of future initiatives.

We urge you to keep abreast of our emerging initiatives by visiting our website at On the website you will also find a set of links to internationally recognized organizations that may inform your search for project support.

Thank you again, and we wish you success with your efforts in this area.

The Rockefeller Foundation

Disappointing, but we don't give up hope that somewhere there is a donor able to provide annually only $US150,000 to sustain the core work of RYDA.

July 2009

This month we begin a new feature. We have asked Executive Director, Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, to help us get to know the people of RYDA. We will have someone new to meet each month. This month we meet students Suzan and Dennis. We would have liked to include photos but at the moment RYDA does not own a working digital camera.

Let Me Introduce You To...

Suzan Nakku
Vice President
RYDA Student Council
I am Nakku Suzan aged 18 years, undertaking a Catering course at RYDA vocational skills training centre. I have been advised to write a simple story by our Beloved Director Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune after he read to us a communication where you made a request for the information from our centre to put on the website.

At RYDA centre I am currently performing the role of the Vice President of the Student Council. On behalf of the RYDA student fraternity allow me to extend my sincere gratitude to St Margaret's Uniting Church and all others for supporting RYDA for over the years. You enable us, the vulnerable orphaned children/young people to attain a better future. May the the Lord bless you. We feel fully blessed with your gifts and and we are also briefed by our Director on your endless financial support.

We orphaned young girls use LYDIA as a role model of your support. Ten years ago she was also inspired like us to continue struggling for a better future. Now LYDIA is doing her master degree in Human Resources. She is a real star because of endless support. Despite the challenges we face at the moment we have not despaired but continue to keep the fire burning. We need to assure you that we will strive to make the goals and objectives apparent.

I am a born again orphaned young person who believes in God's Will always. Over the years to come, history will be written about the organisation which we cherish. Let me quote the Bible: It took Solomon twenty years to build the temple and his palace. He also rebuilt the cities that the king Hiram has given him. These words from the bible tell about our organisation. One day we shall reach there.

The interest you people have shown in supporting us over the years is enough testimony to give us the courage not to despair, but to continue struggling and supporting our beloved Director. We love him. His Father's love always keeps us smiling and building strong feelings about the upcoming future direction. Bravo to all those who have supported and given us a strong belief that together we stand and divided we fail.

Let Me Introduce You To...

Dennis Cheptoyok
Electronic Department Student
Global Disparity
When God created man it is said he removed the rib from him to create a woman as a helper to the man. Creativity is a challenge to many especially when given a chance to initiate something. When I look at the materials which are put to waste, the global civil strife, hunger in the world then I think about the suffering children and young people in the world.

Take for example the corruption in our countries, the type of cars driven by the rich people, think about the way they sleep, drink, enjoy themselves; do they one day spare a time to think about the suffering people in their communities.

The Global trends will one day will be a Time Bomb to those who neglect the poor, forgetting that that one day things may change towards them. It's time to spare some time and think about them especially those who are in need of our help. A stitch in time saves nine.

Donations Do Much Good
Readers of last month's news would remember an anonymous donation of $US1000 to Rubaga Youth Development Association from a family of St. Margaret's Uniting Church. We now know this has been spent:

  • adding food to the RYDA store
  • providing training materials for those students sitting their final exams
  • paying the balance of the electricity bill for the RYDA office
  • reconnecting the Internet to the office.
Geoffrey's words to this family in early June were:
Thanks for this wonderful support and may God bless you abundantly with a lot of blessing in many years to come.
Then, later in the month, when exams were over, he wrote:
I want to tell you that with the support you sent us the children who were supposed to do their exams they managed this week to do it successfully. What a chance you gave us. May the almighty God give you more and bless your work abundantly.
Also, mid-June St. Margaret's received a donation of $AUD500 from John & Mary De Bono of GroupWise Australia which founded on the belief that creative and meaningful engagement enables people to connect deeply and inspires people to produce the very best of themselves.

Clearly this is a charter very similar to that of RYDA in Uganda.

Thank you John and Mary for this unexpected blessing which will be put to good use helping the street youths of Kampala create a better future for themselves. You can read more about GroupWise on their web site:

And if you would like to donate, remember donations from $2 to $toomuch can be sent to St. Margaret's treasurer, Marj Hookey, at any time. See:

How to Support RYDA...

Malaria Strikes Again
Also mid-June Executive Director, Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, was burdened with a recurrence of malaria. It caused him to take several days off work. He is recovering but, as usual, returned to work earlier than he should.

June 2009

Right Now at RYDA
If the world economic circumstances where you are give you grief, then spare a thought for RYDA. Although the organisation continues to strive to be self-supporting, the reality is that RYDA depends on First World support to secure its programs.

  • RYDA is grateful for every gift.
  • Every dollar given is used to support the young people who are learning vocational and life skills which can help them build a positive future.
For example, in response to a recent funds transfer from St. Margaret's Uniting Church (see April 2009 News below) we received this message from Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, Executive Director.
Dear Doug,
Let me take this opportunity to great you in the name of our Jesus Christ. We received the donation which you sent us in April. The funds were used to pay for electricity bills which were outstanding on the Girls Dormitory and the Office. The rest of the funding was used to buy training materials for the Centre.

Currently, we have 102 young people at the centre and they are aged between 14-18 years old. 65% of these are girls.

We are busy revising our strategy to suit the children needs and the staff who serve them as we also reflect on our overall mission of helping the vulnerable children and young people. Indeed this is a challenging year. With no funding certain things are not moving as they used to be done in the past, for example, communication to our supporters is done through an outside Internet in town 9 miles away from the Centre. Fuel and feeding the children are the persistent challenges of today's RYDA Centre.

Sometimes I don't want to bother you a lot but I am constantly having sleepless nights lamenting on what I should do next. Many are looking at me to have the solutions to our persistent problems. This in particular has not been the best, but what to do? The calling of God makes me always to continue to do what we are supposed to do.

I would have had a lot to write but sometimes it's limited by the money available to keep me on air.

God bless you all for your continued support.
Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune

Gifts from the Heart
  • A member of St. Margaret's read the line in the message above about the daily difficulty of finding food for 102 youths and immediately donated $US1000 to RYDA. The Spirit has moved here and Geoffrey has been asked to use the money on food 'or whatever is the current essential need'.
    If it is all spent on food that is $US10 per head. How long would $US10 keep your teenage kids from hunger?
  • Independently, a young Australian father, perhaps influenced by our Christmas Gift Certificate scheme, told his wider family:
    I have everything I need and what I don't have I buy when I need it. There is really nothing you can give me for birthdays and Christmas. Please donate your gift to RYDA instead.
Thank you to these anonymous donors on behalf of the kids to whom you are offering hope.

Visit from Youth Challenge International
During May Steve Cumming from Youth Challenge International (Canada) visited the RYDA Centre. Geoffrey tells us:

...we discussed a lot of issues pertaining our two organisations. They are offering volunteers to work with youth organisations. I don't know what he perceived about RYDA programmes. He has just gone back to Canada.
and Steve writes:
I arrived back in Toronto last week and have had an opportunity to meet with our directors team to brief them on my trip.

YCI is interested in program expansion to Uganda. It's unlikely however, due to budget constraints, that this expansion will occur before the last quarter of the year.

I'll be sure to keep you posted on our next steps.

Please pray that YCI will become part of the world wide team striving to support RYDA.

April 2009

Gardening Day a Great Success
Joyce Dodge and her sister Grace were the generous people who opened their garden on April 4th & 5th and donated their portion of the entrance fee to RYDA. Joyce writes:

We didn't have sunny weather but the small showers didn't impede things too much. We had a total of 217 adults plus children. Carol had good help from Michael, Wilma and the young people - James, Jamie, Cassie and Mitchell. They raised over $300 which included some donations and we expect to get back about $370 from gate takings.

Most people who came were keen to learn about the energy efficient house. We were pretty well talked out by the end of action.
The RYDA display looked good and was in a prominent position but I wouldn't have a clue how many people looked at it as I was too busy with my tours.

Carol Ruthford, who organised the refreshments, writes:

We went VERY well on the weekend. We enjoyed every bit of it - hail, rain or shine - and will do it again and with those young 'helpers'. They were all good - and we enjoyed Cassie's humour.

News from RYDA
Steve Cumming, International Programs Director, Youth Challenge International (YCI), has made arrangements to visit RYDA in late April or early May. YCI builds communities and leaders through youth development initiatives. So does RYDA so we are praying for a meeting that helps both organisations meet their aims and fulfil their current needs.

For the past 20 years YCI have been implementing programs with Canadian volunteers and local partners in South and Central America, West and East Africa. Primarily funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), they also receive funds from volunteer contributions, donations, and Foundations.

In 2009-2010 YCI is expanding its countries of operation and is interested in programming and partnership opportunities in Uganda. RYDA is one of most experienced and successful NGOs in Africa, but it needs significant first world help to run sustainably. Please pray for success through this meeting for both organisations.

Funds Transferred To RYDA
St. Margaret's Treasurer has since collected the takings from the garden day and added other generous contributions in order to send a substantial gift to RYDA to help continue its excellent work. Treasurer Marj Hookey was able to send the following message to Executive Director, Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune on April 22nd:
Good morning Geoffrey,
This email is to let you know that on 20th April 2009 I transferred $USD1046.56 to the RYDA account. This amount includes $USD20 to pay bank fees in Uganda.
Of this amount $AUD678.50 was raised through Joyce Dodge opening her house and garden through the Australian Open Garden Scheme. This generosity enabled us to be given 30% of the gate takings and all the money from the sale of food. Carol and Terry Ruthford were the organisers of the food and drink on sale.
The rest of the gift comes from our weekly offering box and several donations at Christmas time that were given after I had sent the Christmas cheque.
Marj Hookey, Treasurer

March 2009

Love Gardening? Support RYDA
Yes it's possible. Turn your interest in gardening into practical support for Rubaga Youth Development Association. Joyce and Grace Dodge own the The Glade in Mooroolbark, Victoria and on April 4th and 5th it will be open to the public. Entry is $5 and proceeds will support the work of RYDA. The more who visit, the more street youth in Kampala can be supported to build a self-help future through life and vocational skills training. Please come yourself and tell your friends. Refreshments will be available.

The Glade
Pre-existing mature fruit trees frame vegetables, natives and flowering exotics in an abundant densely planted garden around a 1990s passive solar house with many sustainable features and incorporating parts of an earlier house.
  • water tanks, compost, chicken run on 0.2ha
  • regular guided tours of house
  • 25 Carronvale Road, Mooroolbark, Melway 37: K12
  • $5 entry
  • 4 - 5 April , 10:00 - 16:30
News from RYDA
In crisis conditions last October many St. Margaret's people and others reached out with donations to provide food and educational materials to help 57 students sit their final examinations. RYDA simply couldn't feed and support them through to their end of year examinations. Some were due to sit their third and final year papers.

We have just learned that 25 sat their final exams and did very well except two who had to redo their theory paper. Students in catering , electrical, weaving and bricklaying & concrete practice did very well. Some students have already been placed in jobs.

The balance of the 57 students sit their final papers in June - Uganda runs exams twice yearly. Continuing to support RYDA with donations to help these students through is vital.

Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, Executive Director, writes:

I want to extend our since gratitude to St Margaret's Uniting Church and all others for their support which enabled us to do our final examination amicably. The success is due to all of us.

This year we have begun in a humble way with many challenges especially the power fees. Some of our three training blocks don't have power due to an uncleared bill in my office. This has made me to travel to town almost every two days to communicate to people.

We are still struggling but we have not despaired.

February 2009

Where is RYDA?
If you are an Australian, the answer might be 'in the sticks'. See for yourself. Google Maps hasn't quite captured the detail of Uganda as yet, but the RYDA Centre address is:

8 Miles off Kampala-Mityana Road, near Buloba Teachers' College
and this Google Maps link shows both Kampala and Mityana. See if you can get closer using the map or satellite photos.

Gifts to RYDA
Just three days before Christmas St. Margaret's Treasurer transfered a touch over $US500 to the RYDA account.

  • About one third of this amount came from the children and parents of Kalinda Primary School, Ringwood, Australia, who sold pens that Write for RYDA following our Guest Speaker presentation.
  • Some of the balance was from St. Margaret's regular Sunday collection for RYDA, but much of it was through donations for Christmas Gift Certificates. Thank you to the many generous people from many places who saw value in this gift. I received one of these certificates myself and it still stands beside my bed.
Thanks from RYDA
January 27th
Dear Doug Williams
Greetings from RYDA, Irene and me in general. Indeed it has been long without hearing from each other. However the following are the updates on how we used the funds which you sent. Some of the money was used to pay for the pending electricity bills and the remaining ones we used it to organise the christmas party for the children at the centre. Thanks for the support. It was too much for me.
I dont know how it will be without funding and with the recession which is going on in the world we dont know what we are going to do.
However we are trying but in a hard way. The children have reported back for the new term but the most challenging point for me is how to feed them. The sun has been shining a lot in Uganda and this has affected our plants which we had grown.
The results of the children's 2008 examination is expected any time from now I will let you know as soon as they are released.
Send my greetings to the all those who supported us last year.
I remain
Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune
Blessings for All
On December 26th another child was given back to God. Daniella Mellissa Kyeyune, Geoffrey and Irene's youngest, was baptised at St. Paul's Cathedral, Namirembe. A wonderful family celebration followed. Daniella is the little cutie in the photo below, which was taken when her family visited St. Margaret's, Australia in November 2007.

And for 2009?
What is God's plan for this amazing organisation? You can see from Geoffrey's message above that there are already difficulties in finding food for the youths who want to return to learn.

  • $US150,000 per year is all it would take to secure and sustain RYDA's core programs. How many billion, or is it trillion, dollars is your government spending on 'stimulus packages' at the moment?
  • The RYDA Board is searching for new and creative way to use their resources to develop self-help income. Will they be led to inspiration?