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Some of the instruments that were made for the students of Greenhill Public School in Uganda. Photo submitted

Hub Staff

Following a good will trip to a school in Uganda and a socially responsible Safari in February, three adventurers are gearing up to go back and have started fundraising efforts for the children in Uganda.

After a small initiative in early 2018 which raised over $6,000, Saugeen Shores residents Meryl Gillmore and Cathy Fenton, and former resident Rebecca Binnendyk travelled to Namwiwa Town in Uganda to present the over 700 students of Greenhill Public School with instruments after hiring local people to make them.

Binnendyk is a teacher and musician at heart and the trip was a way of helping the students learn music. In a May interview Binnendyk said that teachers at the school were teaching the students through music. The traveller said the culture often sees girls married off at young ages while others are sexually and physically abused, and through music the students are taught “to encourage the equal treatment of women” by way of stories and dance.

Binnendyk said she was amazed at how many people’s lives were positively affected by creating the instruments and regalia. She also noted that next year the students will treat guests to a recital with their newly acquired instruments.

Because the group raised more than they anticipated thanks to many people from the Saugeen Shores community, it gave them an opportunity to treat the students to porridge days. The school, which does not feed its students, is now able to provide two porridge days a week, that will feed the entire school through to the fall. Binnendyk suggested that a single porridge day costs the school $35 and feeds 700 children. The group also brought clothing for the students and “girl kits” to aid students who are menstruating, by the gifting of reusable pads.

“We brought them reusable pads and educated them on their own bodies because they have a misunderstanding that having your period is dirty and wrong. So when you start educating them on why their body does that it really frees them from thinking that it’s a bad thing,” said Binnendyk.

During their two and half days at the school the travellers also planted many fruit trees to provide shade and food.

Their next trip to Greenhill will be longer and is already planned for February 2019. Cathy Fenton, owner of Cathy’s Flowers N’ Treasures in Port Elgin, has already begun fundraising for Greenhill and hopes that she can assist the school build two classrooms. Fenton will be selling three different candles which remind her of her trip to Uganda with proceeds going to the students. The scents created through the Serendipity Candle Company are African Tea, Musanga Rainforest and Fruits of Uganda, which Fenton is selling for $12 each. Gillmore is creating the reusable pads for the girl kits.

Following the Greenhill mission, travellers will then get to take part in a socially responsible safari at the Maasai Mara Reserve. “We want to bring more people there so they can have the experience, a combination of volunteering, giving back, and getting the taste of real Africa,” said the organizer.

Now two trips in, Binnendyk is able to reflect on her time in Africa admitting that people often go into the trip thinking that they are there to save the people of Uganda but in reality it’s such a cathartic experience. “I think we get saved more than we know,” she said.

More information about the 2019 trip is available online, www.srsafaris.com/safaris/uganda-heart-rhythm-and-soul and at Cathy’s Flowers N’ Treasures in Port Elgin. An information session will be held June 13 held in Kitchener.

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Cathy Fenton (left) and Meryl Gillmore served porridge to the students of Greenhill Public School in Uganda. Photo submitted.

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Cathy Fenton, Rebecca Binnendyk and Meryl Gillmore with the students of Greenhill Public School in Uganda with their newly donated gym uniforms. Photo submitted.

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Greenhill students held their girl kits, containing reusable pads. The next batch is currently being created by Saugeen Shores resident Meryl Gillmore ahead of her next visit to the region in February 2019. Photo submitted.

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Rebecca Binnendyk assisted with Porridge Day at Greenhill School this past February. Photo submitted.

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Meryl Gillmore helped to plant some fruit trees around the Ugandan school. Photo submitted.

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Cathy Fenton helped to plant trees around the Ugandan school. Photo submitted.

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