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December 2012 / January 2013

What would do you want for Christmas?

I don't know.
Don't waste your money on me, there isn't anything I need.

But I want to give you something.

Mmm, I know. Give a donation to RYDA and give me their certificate. It would give me great pleasure to know that remarkable organisation has one more small donation to help with its work next year.

  • Print your own certificate from this site.
  • Send your donation to RYDA through St. Margaret's Uniting Church.
  • It's so easy.

Print Certificates...

  • Click the image above to reveal the PDF file.


  • Any amount to RYDA through St. Margaret's Uniting Church.
  • Donor's choice.
  • 100% of every donation goes to RYDA's work.
  • Cheque
    St. Margaret's Uniting Church
    P.O. Box 306
    Mooroolbark 3138 Australia
    Please enclose a note indicating the donation is for RYDA.
  • Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
    St. Margaret's Uniting Church
    Commonwealth Bank Mooroolbark
    BSB 06 3231
    Account No. 1019 1975
    Swift Code: CTBAAU2S (Donors outside Australia only)
    Please email to tell us the transaction has been made.

Give ... Receive ... Enjoy your Celebration

The Children Wait

It is Advent - the beginning of the church year. The season of waiting and preparing for God incarnate - the birth of the baby Jesus. RYDA students are also waiting. They sat their government examinations in trades such as electrical, carpentry, bricklaying, tailoring, art & design, hairdressing, catering and so on at the end of November. Now they anxiously await their results. We wish each of them the best possible outcome and a healthy, prosperous and secure post-graduation life.

RYDA will be making every effort to place these former orphaned or vulnerable children, many of whom were once living on the street, in valuable employment.

Geoffrey Kyeyune, Director, revelling in the companionship of students from Billanook College, Australia, during their visit in April. The first such visit by any school in the history of the organisation.

The word means peace - not absence of war or strife, but God's peace. The peace that brings well-being. Peace that passes - surpasses - all understanding.

The Director, Board, staff and children of RYDA and St. Margaret's Uniting Church (who have been supporting RYDA since 1996) wish you, our supporters peace for the Christmas period and the New Year.

Shalom to you all.

November 2012

Betty's Story

Betty hosted two overseas visitors in her home for a couple of nights. They didn't speak much English and were accompanied by a long time friend of hers. When they left she found a thank you card on the pillow. Her friend had translated the message but he didn't know that her guests had included $150. Betty was stunned.

Hospitality is not offered for reward. It is a gift given to pass on. But Betty knew immediately what to do with this money that she didn't need. In the same spirit of thankfulness in which it was given to her, she passed it on to support the work of Rubaga Youth Development Association.

Billanook Doubles Its Gift

The six remarkable students from Billanook College who visited the RYDA Centre earlier this year to support the former street children face to face, have continued to gather donations for RYDA. Last month we told you they had raised $700 so far. By this month, with the help of their teachers and chaplain, this total rose to:


which was passed to St. Margaret's for transfer to Rubaga Youth Development Association.

Putting The Pieces Together: Part A

As the stories above show, donations to RYDA come to St. Margaret's in all sorts of ways. Every one is a blessing - from the $2 regularly dropped into 'The RYDA Box' on Sundays, through surprises like Betty's and special efforts like the October Total Trivia night, to continuing dedication such as that of the Billanook students and those who regularly sacrifice from their salary. St. Margaret's gathers them all and has included them in a recent transfer to RYDA of:


Our Treasurer always pays the bank transfer fees at both ends so that every cent of every transfer is available for RYDA's work with orphaned and vulnerable young people.

Putting The Pieces Together: Part B

Roofing Kasubi Hall is a major project at RYDA and as much as possible, this transfer will help purchase the pieces needed to progress that objective. The original Kasubi was destroyed in a tropical storm in 2010. Through RYDA's own labour the new Kasubi is rising to again become the meeting space, worship space, celebration space, examination space which unites every aspect of every day at RYDA and provides rental income when hired for local events.

Messages of Thanks
To St. Margaret's
On behalf of the Rubaga Youth Development Association (RYDA) I write to acknowledge the receipt of US dollars 2,793 towards the Kasubi Hall work. We want to extend our sincere appreciation to St Margaret Uniting Church, Minister, Administration and the congregation members for their continued support since 1997. Fifteen years down the road supporting us morally, financially, materially and hosting us while on the visit to your beloved church and country, makes us proud. Making our organisation published and known to other members of your community also is applauded.
May Almighty Lord stand with you as we conclude this year.
To Billanook College
On behalf the Rubaga Youth Development Association (RYDA) Board and staff I hereby write to acknowledge the receipt of the donation you raised through a fund raising drive organized by the Billanook College for RYDA. We are indeed very grateful for this gesture and the interest you have towards RYDA Kasubi Hall. We definitely going to purchase some items to start on the process of roofing the Kasubi Hall. Allow me to extend our sincere appreciation to Billanook College Administration, staff, students for supporting our organisation with such a large donation just five months after your visit. You are giving every young people to have hope that our once cherished monument will be back to its normal use again.
May God reward you with what you need most in life.
Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, Executive Director

Community Service Award

St. Margaret's was recently recognised for its dedication to RYDA through an award presented to its RYDA Support Co-ordinator by the local member of State parliament, David Hodgett. It was one of several such awards presented on the day and the ceremony confirmed that there are many people and organisations working for good in our local community.

RYDA Christmas Gift Certificate
Click the image to find out more.

Ron and Faye have already
arranged 9. One each for
the grandchildren and
great grandchildren.

October 2012

Wendy's Story

Wendy found a wallet in the street. She returned it to the owner. The owner wanted to give her a reward. Wendy didn't want a reward for doing the right thing, but she soon realised that the owner needed to give one.

So Wendy accepted the reward and passed it straight on to St. Margaret's to be included in the next transfer to the RYDA account.

Trivia Success not Trivial

The photos show some of the happy people who gathered at St. Margaret's on October 27th to have their brain strained by question after zany question. Do you know the original name of the city of Melbourne?

It was a truly relaxing, fun night out with not an electronic gadget in sight - well except a CD player for the music questions. People enjoying each other's company to raise money for Rubaga Youth Development Association. And how much was raised?


Special thanks to Lyn, Alan and Andrew Bromage for organising the whole event and to all who came along, or who couldn't come but donated anyway. We hope this will be enough to get the last 25 sheets of corrugated iron needed to for the roof of Kasubi Hall. Next comes the timber to attach it to and the nails to hold it on!

More From Billanook

Do you remember that six students from Billanook College visited RYDA at Easter this year? The first students from another school to visit their brothers and sisters at the RYDA Training Centre. Shannon, Courtney P., Courtney W., Elise, Georgia and Alex were so impressed with the young people whose lives were being changed by the opportunities RYDA offers them. They have been beavering away in the Billanook community raising funds for RYDA and to date have raised


They are hoping to perhaps even find a little more before their own lives are temporarily 'shut down' by examinations.

Exams at RYDA

RYDA students are orphaned and disadvantaged youths who may have come from a background of child-headed families, war, street life, poverty, prostitution or child labour. They may have been found by RYDA in its outreach work, or they may been brought to RYDA for care by organisations like the UN. They are there by invitation, because they have chosen to be and every youth has the opportunity to train for a career in a wide range of areas such as hair dressing, carpentry, computer, tailoring, bricklaying and so on.

Hair Dressing Students

Tailoring Students

RYDA students sit exams for government qualifications and are supported by RYDA to find quality work when they graduate. 107 students began a series of examinations on October 18th - some promotional exams to the next level and some their final exams.

Please pray for each one to be the most successful they possibly can be. In a way quite different from the Billanook students' experience, these exams will be life changing for the RYDA students.

A Message From Geoffrey

Through you I want to extend our sincere appreciation to all those who are organizing fund raising events to raise funds for the organisation. We are proud of those people who strive to keep the fire burning. The visit of the Billanook students early this year built new synergy in the work not only for staff but for children at the centre. The training of children in computer has greatly improved with their donation of 8 computers.

After reading the web update for the month of September through I realized my brother Scott is trying to do some fund raising. Through you extend my sincere thanks to all those who have are involved in this drive.

Its getting dark and power has gone out I will write more in the next few days.

Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, Executive Director

September 2012

Funds Go To Water Survey

In the August news we mentioned that $US1523 was transferred to RYDA recently. The Board had to decide whether to use the donation to continue to roof Kasubi Hall, or divert it to do a ground water survey required if they were to submit an application for an EU grant to sink bores and use the water for new toilet and shower blocks. Executive Director, Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, has let us know that the decision was made to do the ground water survey. The Board hopes that further funds might come from somewhere to help complete Kasubi Hall as the worship/ community/ performance/ learning centre of the vocational training site.

An Evening of Total Trivia

The poster says it all.

This will be an evening out just for fun at the right time of the year and every dollar will go to RYDA. You enjoy yourself with a gathering of friendly, relaxed people and RYDA benefits.

  • Perhaps there will be enough raised to roof Kasubi Hall.
  • Perhaps the funds raised will be used to build up food stocks.
However the Board decides to use the donation the orphaned and vulnerable of Uganda will benefit.

Please join us. And please feel free to click the image to view and print a PDF version of the poster to display at 'your place'.

Father's Day Donation

Scott and his family brought joy to his Dad and hope to RYDA with a significant donation '...for your birthday and for Father's Day'. Thanks Scott for your wonderful gift. Apparently, when asked 'what he would like for...', his Dad always answers that he has everything he needs. Our RYDA Gift Certificates are available for any such celebration. Give the certificate to the one you love and the present to RYDA.

August 2012

Small Gifts - Big Meaning

Two simple, important donations have been made to RYDA since the previous eNews.

  • Marilyn Gane, Head Librarian, Avondale College of Higher Education, which has been offering excellence in Christian Tertiary Education since 1897, wrote to say that they had some videos about welding and to ask if RYDA might be able to use them in their training courses. The answer was assuredly Yes!, especially in the motor vehicle training program. On behalf of the college, Marilyn added to the gift by arranging the postage. Avondale have helped with training text books in the past and we are very grateful for their continued support.
  • Mr and Mrs Kayemba, from Indiana, USA, who are long time friends of RYDA, have donated an HP laptop computer to be used in day to day work. For a long time RYDA has been operating with a limited number of administration computers and this gift will ease that situation. It will be especially useful in the field, working to overcome family and village life reasons that can lead to children travelling to the capital to beg a new life.

Cowes meets Billanook who met RYDA

It was a wonderful Sunday morning service. The July 29th service at St. John's Uniting Church, Cowes, was blessed by a presentation from five of the six young people from Billanook College who visited RYDA last Easter, Robyn Green, one of the teachers who went with them, and Jennie Gordon, School Chaplain, who organised and inspired the visit. Through a short video, photographs and straightforward, personal expression the meaning of the experience to each person, the Cowes congregation were once more touched by the needs and achievements of Rubaga Youth Development Association.

In her softly spiritual, relevant and casual style Jennie wove the young peoples' threads together with the Bible readings for the day and offered a reflection that glorified the ever present, ever necessary work of the Spirit in bringing humanity before God.

Robyn introduces the presentation.
The slide shows Courtney presenting one of several laptops to an excited RYDA student.
Courtney, Alex, Shannon, Georgia and Elise. With another student, also named Courtney, were the first students from any school to visit the RYDA headquarters at Buloba, Uganda.
Later, Jennie followed up the experience and we all discovered that the young people learnt as much about 'church' as the congregation learnt about RYDA.

The Mikado Wins Again

The wonderful choir Singularity volunteered their time and talent once again, this time in Cowes, to raise money for RYDA through a presentation of Gilbert & Sullivan's ridiculously convoluted and madly musical The Mikado. The afternoon of August 12th will remain with the 80+ audience members for a long time. Costumes, music, story line and nifty modern twists to the lyrics of I've Got A Little List all made for a wonderfully entertaining afternoon and...

ticket sales plus later donations raised a total of


for RYDA's work with orphaned and vulnerable children

It All Goes to RYDA

Gathering the donations from The Mikado concert at Cowes and several other donations from several other faithful and compassionate folk, St. Margaret's treasurer has been able to transfer $US1523.90 to the RYDA account this month. Everyone who contributed any part of this amount is sincerely thanked. You may not know what good you do, but know that you do do good.

This money arrives at an important time for RYDA. They have been facing a dilemma.

RYDA has the opportunity to apply for an EU funded grant through a Belgian charity (SOS Layettes). The grant would finance drilling for ground water which could be used to service new toilet and shower blocks for both boys and girls which would also be included in the funding. However, to make the application, which of course has no guarantee of success, RYDA would have to fund a professional ground water survey at a cost of around $US2000.

The dilemma has been whether or not to divert funds set aside for roofing Kasubi Hall in order to have the survey done and make the application. This decision has led to many sleepless nights and we hope our transfer will help the Board to decide the best course to take.

If you feel moved to donate to further reduce the stress of this decision please contact Doug. Williams, RYDA Support Co-ordinator, St. Margaret's through the details at the top of this page.

July 2012

Singularity Concert A Success

On July 1st Singularity entertained over 100 music lovers from 2 years old to 82 years old with a fabulous performance of the The Mikado at St. Margaret's Uniting Church.

The overture is scored for four hands! Thanks Lyn and Andrew.

The three little maids were just as giggly as you would expect.

The outcome however, we did not expect...


Thank you to each and every generous donor.

This amount was combined with donations received earlier through other sources and the colossal total of...

was transferred to the RYDA account. St. Margaret's also paid the bank fees at both ends from its own resources.

One More Opportunity

If 100 plus people were leaving St. Margaret's relaxed, refreshed and bubbling with enthusiasm for the experience they had just shared, what more recommendation could you want? If you missed the concert at St. Margaret's you have one more opportunity to enjoy the fun and support the work of Rubaga Youth Development Association.

St. John's Uniting Church

Chapel Street, Cowes

Sunday August 12th, 2:30pm

Afternoon Tea Provided

Tickets: Gwen McRae ... 5952 2095

Donation Raises Hopes for Kasubi

Do you remember Kasubi Hall? It was the worship centre, education centre, performance centre, examination centre, celebration centre of RYDA and it also provided a little income when hired out for local functions. It was crushed by immense tropical rain in February 2010 and since has been raised again to ceiling level. But it needs to be finished as soon as possible.

Why? Well you can't use a building without a roof - especially in the tropical rainy season. And even more importantly RYDA will not be able to retain its government certification to host examinations if it doesn't have a suitable building. An almost building is not a suitable building.

So, the RYDA Board and Staff has resolved to save this latest donation in the hope that God's Spirit will move to add enough to complete Kasubi Hall. Geoffrey Kyeyune, Executive Director, has written:

Click the image to print A4 posters to display and distribute.
Contact Doug. Williams (above) if you need A4 posters mailed.

Dear Friends,
I hereby write to acknowledge the receipt of $US2,359 which you sent to our RYDA account. The Board, staff are very appreciative for the support and the effort you put in to see that RYDA activities continue.

I want also to bring to your attention that the Board and staff resolved to save this money for the roofing of the Kasubi Hall which is critical for the center activities. We still have a deficit of $US4,167 to do the the roofing. In this context all the funds raised in this period will go to the completion of our Kasubi Hall. There is a desperate need to do the roofing as it also acts as an examination room for our students. We have only 3 months to do the examination in November/December 2012.

If roofed, even if other phases are not yet done the Kasubi Hall can be used for Exams. We are also hoping that people of good will continue to support this noble cause.

Do you know that with the funds you sent we can be able to get 105 Iron sheets? We then have only a deficit of 25 to make the total of 130 sheets we need. This is a step forward so far. RYDA needs now only the timber, 25 remaining iron sheets, nails and labour costs to accomplish this dream.

I know its is still a mountain to climb but the God's power is in our midst. I congratulate all those who have supported this noble cause indeed without you people Kasubi would be no more. But now there is a strong will from us and our donors.

We pray to the Almighty to give us the energy and direction as with him we stand.

Good bless you all

June 2012

How Could You Miss It?


The opportunity to support RYDA's work in return for a crazy afternoon of Gilbert & Sullivan musical mayhem.

Yeah. Which show?

Take a look at the photo and see if you can guess.

Uhh ... The Mikado?

Got it in one ... you're so clever you must have gone to a ladies' seminary!

What's the story?

Singularity is a choir of experienced opera singers who volunteer their time just to sing for charities. In July and August they will being singing up an 'a capella' storm to raise much needed funds for Rubaga Youth Development Association. They did a similar thing for RYDA last year and raised $1560. You can bet that went a long way to helping house, feed, cloth and educate orphaned and vulnerable children and youths in Uganda...

Okay! I get it. Where and when?

Read my sign...

St. Margaret's Uniting Church

Hull Road, Mooroolbark

Sunday July 1st, 2:30pm

Afternoon Tea Provided

Information: Doug. Williams ... 9726 8316

St. John's Uniting Church

Chapel Street, Cowes

Sunday August 12th, 2:30pm

Afternoon Tea Provided

Tickets: Gwen McRae ... 5952 2095

Disappointment for RYDA

Earlier this month Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, Executive Director, received the disappointing news that after many months of negotiating with MIVA Netherlands, the RYDA application for donation of a new vehicle was not successful. The current RYDA 4WD is on its last legs and if it were to fail the ability of staff to reach villages would be seriously curtailed. This part of the work includes:

  • providing family counselling support
  • running programs to encourage income generating activities
  • documenting family circumstances in an effort to reunite street children with family members
The RYDA staff and students are praying for a new opportunity to open up that will lead to a new vehicle. They certainly can't generate the funds for such a capital investment by their own efforts. God must be their provider.

Rejoicing at RYDA

  • Catering Instructor Juliet Nassaka will be graduating from her hospitality course on 29th June. Juliet joined RYDA staff this year and Geoffrey says she has '...added a new synergy to the team'.
    I am Nassaka Juliet aged 22 years. I am a Diploma holder in hotel management and institutional catering and am currently working with RYDA team. For real I have enjoyed working with this team however much in these six months. We appreciated the visitors from Billanook. Indeed it was fun both to the instructors and to the students, not forgetting RYDA administration as a whole. If opportunity comes we ready to host them again. On behalf of RYDA team we are really thankful though we still have problems of transport like school vans to take our students to different exhibitions in their specific departments but we pray that it will become history
    Hoping that God will always prevail in our endeavours.
  • Solomon, Geoffrey's oldest son is home from university on holiday for the next two to three months. He will be spending some of his time helping out at the RYDA Centre.

May 2012

More About Billanook Visiting RYDA

Billanook College is the first Australian school to have visited RYDA's Vocational Training Centre. Robyn Green, one of the staff who accompanied the six students says of the visit:

I would go back again tomorrow - and so would my students.
As we told you last month, Billanook donated several notebook computers and the photo shows the reaction!

They will be treasured! In the short two day visit Billanook students were able to spend a little time tutoring RYDA students in computing skills and through this and an amazingly full program of exchange, learning and socialising, firm friendships were formed.

Through a follow up article written by Jennie Gordon, School Chaplain, who organised this adventure to coincide with a Round Square conference in Kenya, we can sense something of the depth of the connection that has been formed:

Fruit that will last
In John's gospel Jesus says to his disciples; "I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends." Early in April six students and two staff members saw the liberation that comes with moving from the status of servant to that of friend...

Read Jennie's full one page article.

Click the image to print A4 posters to display and distribute.
Contact Doug. Williams (above) if you need A4 posters mailed.

Fruit that will last
In John's gospel Jesus says to his disciples; "I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends." Early in April six students and two staff members saw the liberation that comes with moving from the status of servant to that of friend. They met girls in Uganda, rescued by the United Nations from lives of servitude in the sex trade, provided with education and security and restored to the dignity of a life they own; free to dance, to learn and to be called friends.

You don't come back from Africa unchanged. It was risky business on many levels to send Billanook College students Alex, Shannon, Courtney P, Courtney W, Elise and Georgia accompanied by Staff member Robyn Green and Principal Roger Oates to Kenya for a Round Square conference and then on to Uganda.

Reflecting on the experience, a month or so after being back home there's a sense that the students carry the weight of their exposure with less ease than they might have anticipated. They have seen first hand the unbridled happiness of people who own little more than what they stand up in, and that brings into question the truth and degree of happiness in their own relatively well-resourced lives and the lives of those around them. They carry knowledge of the depth of poverty, the degree of hunger, the ever-present threat of disease and death and have lost the ability to take their health and lifestyle for granted.

Read Jennie's full one page article.

The closing part of that passage from John's gospel talks about bearing fruit, fruit that will last. It's too early to tell what fruit may blossom and flourish as a result of this remarkable visit, but the commandment to love one another has, for six students and two staff members taken on a new face. You don't come back from Africa unchanged; you come back understanding that whatever else we have in life, our connection to each other, our capacity to love one another across all boundaries and borders, is the greatest gift and treasure.
Singularity Sings for Africa - Again!

Following the huge successes of their performances of The Gondoliers in 2011 to support the work of Rubaga Youth Development Association, Singularity have offered to once again sing for Africa. Not one, but two ways to have a great Sunday afternoon of mirth, merriment and music.

Singularity sings Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado to raise funds for RYDA's work for the orphaned and vulnerable children of Uganda.

St. Margaret's, Mooroolbark, Sunday July 1st ...and... St. John's, Cowes Sunday August 12th

  • Please put one of these in your diary. (More details on Cowes next month.)
  • For additional information about either concert contact Doug. Williams (top of page).
Singularity was formed in 2003 as an SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) a cappella choir, based in the Dandenong Ranges area. It has a membership of around thirty voices and performs a wide repertoire at around twenty performances per year. Performances are always for charity and the group's gift of time and talent has raised significant funds for many groups over its history.

On the dates above Singularity is inspired to support an African success story.

RYDA has successfully worked for over fifteen years to offer life skill and vocational skill training to orphaned and vulnerable street children in Uganda. Its work has been recognised by the United Nations, with whom it is currently executing a pilot program to eliminate child labour from three districts of the capital, Kampala.

Don't miss an opportunity to enjoy a great afternoon and support an excellent cause.

GroupWise Donation

In April 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.

This is not the first time John and Mary have surprised with such an unexpected blessing and we thank them for their consistent support. The donation 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:

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 at the top of this page.

National Youth Leadership

Within Uganda RYDA's work is recognised and respected by government and NGO organisations alike. For example in early May Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, Executive Director, was chosen as one of the National Youth Trainers and was asked to travel to northern Uganda to train youth leaders in:

  • youth participation
  • decision making
  • problem solving
  • advocacy and lobbying skills.
In accepting such a call Geoffrey is not only able to share RYDA's 20 years of experience supporting the orphaned and vulnerable of Uganda, but is able to demonstrate the strength, efficiency and effectiveness of the team remaining at the Centre servicing the needs of the current group of children.

April 2012

Billanook College Visits RYDA

Easter Sunday, April 8th, Roger Oates, Principal, Robyn Green, Teacher, and six Year 10/11 students from Billanook College, Mooroolbark, Australia, arrived at RYDA Centre following several days attending the Round Square conference in Nairobi, Kenya. They were welcomed by the Director and his team and welcomed into the Geoffrey's home. What followed was almost two days of sharing, learning, listening, understanding and celebrating. We hope to have some photos for next month's news, but for now these responses from Geoffrey Kyeyune, Director, and Lydia Millar Nakyeyune, Project Social Worker, capture something of the experience.

I am glad to tell you that the visit from the people was very good for me and I hope I can get a chance to interact with people like that again.

The group from Billanook College visited RYDA center on Easter Monday and I hope they enjoyed their day at the place. They spent some time training our children in some computer skills. I wish they had more time. Madam Robyn, the Principal and the students were great people. One of the students donated 200,000 Ugandan shillings to the music group of RYDA and we have used it to purchase dancing skins. What a gift to the RYDA Drama group.

For us the hosting family it was nice to have them hosted at home. Despite only two and half days stay in Uganda it will be memorable to us at RYDA to host such a college in Uganda. The National press was present and they telecast their visit at RYDA.

And in a follow up letter to Robyn, Geoffrey included:
The entire group was so wonderful for us at RYDA and family. Indeed your coming has been so instrumental in changing the hearts of young people at the center. ... To Billanook members who visited we hope to be hearing from them from time to time ... We at my home appreciate your hospitality and compassionate nature and accepting to be hosted at our home. ... Special thanks to Mr. Roger for parental and inspiring developmental comments made during to us during the visit. His advice has been taken in good faith. Indeed we are looking forward to our future partnership and working relationship for many years to come. The donation of computers will kick start the computer training for our young people. Thank you very much.

To the Chaplain and the entire Administrative Board, parents and children, we are very grateful for support you extended to the group to enable them come and visit our centre. Bravo to all of you dear friends.

Billanook Donation

The students who visited will undoubtedly be sharing their experiences with their friends and classmates by now. The Year 10 cohort were introduced to the RYDA through our presentation Where in the World is RYDA? (see above) on the day the visitors left Australia. They seemed very interested in the many photographs and the DVD which showed something of the RYDA Centre. Many thanks to their teacher Candice Rulach for this opportunity to share RYDA's success with these young people. Special thanks also to Chaplain, Jennie Gordon, who organised a donation of $300 on the day.

Action from St. Margaret's

The Billanook donation gave St. Margaret's the ability to answer a need it was aware of - RYDA was having a problem paying their electricity bill.

Having transferred to the RYDA account in January to help purchase water during a mini-drought, the coffers were low. However with the Billanook donation, regular small gifts given by faithful St. Margaret's folk which had gradually mounted up, a couple of surprise donations and a little 'robbing of Peter', Marj Hookey, church treasurer, was delighted to be able to transfer $US1000 to the RYDA account at the beginning of April and pay the bank fees at both ends from St. Margaret's own funds.

Electricity problem solved (for now) and some spare for other daily needs. It really is amazing how God meets those in need.

Good News from Workaid UK

Workaid UK tackles poverty by supplying disadvantaged people with the tools they need to acquire practical skills and become self supporting. Tools and equipment are collected from all over the UK, refurbished and sent to vocational training projects and self-help groups, mostly in East Africa and in the UK.

In 2011 RYDA application for Workaid assistance was supported by a letter from St. Margaret's. Geoffrey has now been informed that the application has been approved and the RYDA Centre will be visited by a Workaid team member in late May to finalise details. That's just simply fabulous. Clearly RYDA fulfils precisely the Workaid objectives and we hope for a long term relationship beyond this first gift.

RYDA has already written a letter of appreciation, but from St. Margaret's congregation - RYDA's base for support outside Uganda - a huge thank you to Sylvia Parratt and the team for recognising the value of this organisation and acting to enhance it.

You can explore Workaid's programs on their web site.

March 2012

Meet Christine Kadondi

Rubaga Youth Development Association is dedicated to supporting orphaned and vulnerable children and youths to find a better future through self-help. The RYDA Training Centre is a major part of their work. Here we meet one of the new students for this year who is already finding she has positive hopes for a future that breaks the cycle of poverty in her peasant family.

Am Kadondi Christine aged 19 a Karamonjong girl coming from Moroto Hills. Karamonjong are commonly known as cattle rustlers. My home village is Nakapelimen, Matheniko sub-county, Moroto District. My parents are both alive. My mother's name is Wanyenze Loyce and my father is Lokiri Peter. They are peasants. we leave in the remote area of Karamoja.

I managed to attain two levels of education, primary and secondary school level, and I was helped by an NGO working in our area. (Editor: NGO = non-government organisation). The primary school was at Moroto Army barracks primary school and my secondary school education was at Kangole Girls senior school.

I not get another opportunity to continue with formal education as I come from a poor family. This year I got a chance to join RYDA vocational skills training center. I have started enjoying a new life at RYDA as children at RYDA comes from all over Uganda. Here we have enriched culture and life style.

Currently am doing Catering and Hotels Management. I hope to attain a Craft Certificate. I always pray to God to guide me in whatever I do. I look to getting a friend who can support me after school mainly after training at RYDA.

Kadondi Christine,
RYDA Catering Student

Dreams Do Come True

In November 2011 News we reported that Lydia Nakyeyune - orphaned when she was 7 and now 25 - was returning to RYDA with two university degrees to take up a position as Project Social Worker. What an inspiration! Geoffrey tells us:
Lydia has moved forward and she is now fully involved in the day to day activities of RYDA. She is fully involved in training children in Music, Dance and Drama. Also she has started to going to the field activities.
Lydia has been blessed with more than paper qualifications for this role. In these two songs you can hear her beautiful voice leading the singing. Each runs for about four minutes.
Enjoy listening from here, but if you decide you want to download and use the songs in some other way then we encourage you to arrange an appropriate donation to RYDA in return. See How to Support RYDA above.

Who Has Visited RYDA?

  1. In the past month RYDA was visited by two members of Parliament:
    • Hon: Ssimbwa of Kampala West
    • Hon: Kidega of the East Africa assembly
    They were excited and fascinated by RYDA work and said they will advocate for RYDA wherever they go.
  2. Margaret, the MIVA representative in Uganda visited the RYDA Centre to ascertain what RYDA is doing and why a request was submitted to MIVA for support. Geoffrey and the Board hope that her visit and the report she is going to give MIVA will be positive. Feedback is expected in April if all works out well.
    MIVA = a DUTCH charity to which RYDA applied in 2011 for transport and communication support
  3. The Weather Man. After a stressful, extended period without any rain at all, during which RYDA had to spend most of its January donation from Australia on buying water, the rains have finally started. The tanks are filling and RYDA's water supply for sanitation, cleanliness, drinking and cooking is secure again.

Who is Planning to Visit RYDA?

It's very exciting ... for everyone!

Around this time last year Geoffrey's son Solomon visited Billanook College, Mooroolbark, Australia, a Uniting Church School.

On Easter Sunday this year, six Year 10 students accompanied by their Principal and another teacher will visit the RYDA Centre for a couple of days. The journey has been organised by School Chaplain Jennie Gordon, a former minister at St. Margaret's church, and will begin with a youth conference in Kenya. After the conference the group will fly to Uganda to be met by the RYDA team. They will arrive on April 8th and leave on April 10th.

Each student will be carrying an extra laptop computer as a gift for RYDA and on the day they leave Australia our representative will be presenting a talk about RYDA to the Year 10 students remaining at school. (See the link above if you would like this presentation for your school or group.)

Geoffrey writes:

Solomon and RYDA students are very excited for the cultural exchange. On their way from the Airport to RYDA Centre, the group will get a chance to see the Ugandan wild life, and if time allows they will visit the source of river Nile.

The Easter Monday they will spend at RYDA Centre exploring what RYDA offers to the young people. They will start with an orientation, Uganda/Australian sharing, participating in vocational skills training sessions, music gala and then goat roasting to mention but a few.

The RYDA principal will be working with the visiting Principal to discuss possible partnership and networking.

Please pray for blessings and safe travel for everyone involved in this visit.

Jennie with Geoffrey's wife Irene during a visit to St. Margaret's.
November 2007

Speaking of Solomon

Solomon recently began university and has just finished his semester exams. His Cumulative Grade Point Average (CPGA) was 4.64 compared to a possible 5. Which means he has received a first class honour for his first semester.

Well done Solomon! Keep up the good work.

February 2012

Child Labour Project: Final Report

At the beginning of February RYDA was required to fill in a report for the ILO/SNAP project:

  • ILO = International Labour Organisation (an arm of the United Nations)
  • SNAP = Support National Action Programme to eliminate child labour
Through this pilot project (which came to be called the Child Labour Project) the United Nations funded RYDA for $US66,121 and RYDA had to find an additional $US9,196 to tackle the elimination of Child Labour in three districts for 22 months from February 2010 to December 2011. RYDA is one of the few long-standing NGOs with the experience and networks to be able to achieve such an outcome. In brief, the feedback from the donor organisation is that RYDA 'performed well'.

Such success would not surprise regular supporters of RYDA, who, for almost 20 years have seemingly pulled off miracles with every dollar donated. We encourage all site visitors to read the RYDA Child Labour Project Final Report.

  • Regular supporters will see just how much they have helped to achieve.
  • New visitors will find it encourages them to review how they can support RYDA's on-going work for orphaned and vulnerable children.
It is largely in point & paragraph form and is easy to read. The questions have been phrased by ILO/SNAP and the responses are from RYDA.

Giving Through 2011

Apart from occasional 'big player' donations like the one above, RYDA relies on smaller amounts from individuals, churches and other organisations to supplement its efforts to be self-sustaining. St. Margaret's Uniting Church, Mooroolbark, Australia collects such funds from any donor who wishes and provides a transfer service directly to RYDA's account, paying bank fees at both ends from its own resources as part of its giving plan.

During 2011 St. Margaret's gathered and transferred:


About half of this amount was from sponsorship of Rev Runs for RYDA (see October 2011 News) and all of it was from a wide, wide group of charitable, generous, spiritual people. On behalf of the Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, Executive Director, the RYDA Board and staff and all the children who benefit from RYDA's work, a very big:

Thank You
Please keep up your support through 2012.

Giving Begins for 2012

On January 31, St. Margaret's transferred funds equivalent to $US1383.56 to the RYDA account. This included the donation from Kalinda Primary School (see December 2011 news) and $250 from St. Margaret's UCAF group. And every cent was needed...

  • 70% was spent buying water! Yes - unbelievable as it sounds - tropical Uganda is in drought. RYDA's Buloba Vocational Training Centre needs water for personal hygiene, flushing toilets, cooking and drinking. RYDA operates with several very large rain water tanks (you can see them on the Google map) but there has been no rain for weeks.
  • A necessary amount was spent on fixing the toilet system of the girl's dormitory. It operates through a gravity fed tank system. There is no reticulated water at the RYDA centre.
  • The balance was spent on food and daily needs for the young people just beginning their training in life and vocational skills.
This donation will secure RYDA's water needs for about one month. And then what...? Anything you can do to help will be welcomed.

January 2012

Official Opening

Dear Doug,
We managed to open the new training year yesterday (Friday January 27) but with one problem - water. It's too hot this month. The sunshine is the not the usual one we are used too. Put us in your prayer that God answer our prayers for rain.
Water is becoming scarce and in some communities their animals have started dying. At our center we don't have running water. We depend entirely on available resources to facilitate the purchase water for cooking, washing, cleaning and toilets. We have several tanks, but with no rain, they are almost dry.

The economic situation in Uganda is difficult. Recently businesses in Kampala went on strike because of rising interest rates and the entire city was quiet. It's affecting everybody and sectors and prices are going up every day. I don't know how were going to handle the food situation. We need to stock, but currently we have not yet got the funds.

For our supporters and grantors we salute them all for the support they extend which has enabled us to at least begin the new year. We look forward to continuing, regular support. Despite the challenges of the present we have a strong dream and vision to make RYDA a self-sustaining organisation.

Have a blessed year and please pray daily for RYDA.
Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, Executive Director

What is RYDA Training?

  • Read this short report on RYDA's 2011 Training Programme (PDF file).
  • Lots of photos of students are included.
  • You may have been one of their sponsors.
  • Before becoming involved with RYDA these young people were engaged in harsh or inappropriate child labour which would have lead to no positive future.
  • Through RYDA they have gained a government certificate in a trade or skill that will allow them to make their own income-generating choices.
  • Photos show they have also been given a starter kit of equipment to ensure an immediate start in their chosen new trade.

Find RYDA on Google

Colin Isherwood, St. Margaret's Uniting Church, has spent a great deal of time researching the exact position of RYDA on the face of the earth, so that we can all feel more connected to the organisation we support. Use the new Google Maps link in the left column above to explore the RYDA Centre grounds.

Geoffrey tells us ...You can now navigate and see the pavements are bordered in black and white. The vocational blocks are green roofed and there are three blocks and our office and canteen are red roofed. You can even see our water tanks.

Colin has marked these buildings with 'map pins'. Zoom out in steps and you will discover RYDA's position in the local area, its relationship to Kampala, the capital city, and its position within the country of Uganda.

Possible Support from Crossroads Hong Kong

Towards the end of 2011, RYDA made application to Crossroads Foundation, Hong Kong, for support. Crossroads takes quality donated goods from Hong Kong and redistributes them to registered organisations and charities which are doing humanitarian work around the world. St. Margaret's Church sent a letter of support with RYDA's application and has since been contacted to confirm that RYDA is willing and able to accept the conditions attached to a donation. Of course we know they are.

We hope that this personal contact from Mrs Karen Fail, International Shipment Applications Coordinator, is indicative of a decision to follow through with a container of much needed goods.

Thanks to Kalinda Primary School

In the December News we mentioned the wonderful support given by the students of Kalinda Primary school in raising $639 by starting their own businesses as part of their Business World studies. Geoffrey sent a letter of thanks to Lyse Carlson, the co-ordinating teacher, as follows:

Dear Lyse Carlson,

I have been informed by Doug Williams about the fund-raising you made on the market day purposely for Charity. This time you chose our organisation to be supported. Let me take this opportunity on behalf of the Rubaga Youth Development Association (RYDA) to write to acknowledge the cheque of $639 which you handed over to the treasurer of St. Margaret's Uniting Church on our behalf. Indeed this donation will be utilized properly for the purpose of enhancing the RYDA programme

Through you let me extend our sincere appreciation to the school administration , teachers and the school children for choosing our organisation for this wonderful support.

Geoffrey Steven Kyeyune, Executive Director

New Welcome Page

Have you seen the new opening page for the RYDA site. Hopefully it will make it even easier for you to find out all you need to know about RYDA's past, present and future.