Ingrid Heugh

SACU receives $50,000 donation thanks to Amherstburg couple

 

By Ron Giofu

Save African Child Uganda (SACU) has received a large donation from an Amherstburg couple with that money going towards more new classrooms.

SACU received $50,000 from the couple with SACU committee member Ingrid Silvaggio Heugh stating the couple wishes to remain anonymous.

“Dreams do come true,” she stated.

Heugh noted that a single classroom she had been fundraising for is finished and a second two-unit classroom has also been completed. The $50,000 donation will allow SACU to construct a four-pod classroom for babies and younger students with a common area in the middle. The new building will also be able to have indoor washrooms, said Heugh.

The donation was made after recent articles were published in the River Town Times about Heugh and her trip to Uganda. SACU supports children in the Ugandan village of Buwando.

“The Lord has answered a lot of our prayers,” said Heugh. “We’re quite excited about all of this. It’s a very generous couple.”

Heugh said this will complete the number of permanent classrooms they need and get the students into buildings with concrete floors and walls. Makeshift classrooms built with tree limbs, metal sheets and other materials SACU could scrounge up will be decommissioned and that is a good thing in another sense, since snakes have been burrowing into the flooring in some of the small rooms.

Another portion of the donation will be used to support families in the area. They also hope to use a portion to start planning for a new shelter, since homeless boys and girls in the current shelter may not be able to use it anymore as the government officials in the African nation may shut it down due to the age of the children and the fact it is a mix of boys and girls.

Another shelter to separate the boys and girls is a project for the future, she noted.

“Believe me, it can be filled very quickly,” said Heugh. “We’re considering using part of the $50,000 to start the process of constructing another shelter for the kids.”

Workers are happy to build such structures, she added, because they not only get some needed money but they also appreciate people giving back to their villages and homeland.

Donations have been coming in at a steady pace, she added, including a substantial donation from an estate last fall. The Harrow woman who died, who was identified simply as “Aunt Madeline,” left the donation through her estate and that has been helpful to SACU as well.

“When she passed, her family wanted to give back because she was very generous when she was alive, especially to those in need,” said Heugh.

Ingrid Silvaggio Heugh stands in a classroom she helped fundraise for in Uganda. Now, thanks to a $50,000 donation from an Amherstburg couple, a new four-pod classroom will be constructed in the village. Heugh is part of SACU. (Submitted photo)

While Heugh was unable to disclose the exact amount, it did enable SACU to fund high school educations for 12 of its students and keep them together. Tuition was over $1,000 for each student.

“To keep those kids together was a great feeling,” she said. “They could stay as a family.” Even though SACU is making significant progress in Uganda, Heugh said there is still more that needs to be done. In addition to the new shelter, there are still children that need to be sponsored.

“My next goal is to get older children sponsored,” she said.

Many children start young but many of SACU’s children have older siblings who haven’t had the opportunity to be educated, stated Heugh.

Sponsoring a child costs $350 annually.

“It’s less than a dollar per day,” said Heugh.

All donations are appreciated, she added.

“What you are able to give is a blessing.”

SACU began when Windsor resident Geri Sutts developed the program with Ugandan resident Ivan Nsera. Early work included clothing and feeding the children and while that continues, matters have improved somewhat to where there is a shelter, school and food garden on their three-acre site. They now have a seven-person committee that, in addition to Sutts and Heugh, includes Betty Westfall, Cheryl Rudgers, Kathy Vriesen, Margie Anson and Elaine Johnson.

Their website – www.saveafricanchildugan.wix.com/sacu – is still being developed. The public can also access information about SACU on YouTube & Facebook (Save African Child Uganda). Donations and sponsorship cheques may be mailed to 6625 Matchette Rd., LaSalle, ON, N9F 2J9.

Additional information can be obtained and donations can also be made by contacting Heugh at 519-736-3512.

Heugh is also welcoming churches, schools and organizations to contact her so she can make a presentation to them. She has received some invitations, but would like more.
“I want to share my story,” said Heugh.

SACU holds sold out fundraiser at Shooters

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

A local retired teacher involved with Save African Child Uganda has held a sold out fundraiser at Shooters, the proceeds from which will go towards completing a classroom in Uganda.

Ingrid Heugh, who retired as a teacher from Amherstburg Public School, went to the Ugandan village of Buwando in late November and early December with SACU. She explained the organization was begun with a 19-year-old Ugandan man named Ivan Nsera who approached a retired teacher from Canada, Geri Sutts while she was in Uganda helping another organization.

“Ivan was brought to this village as a young boy to be raised by his grandmother, Jaja, when he lost both of his parents to AIDS,” said Heugh. “He witnessed how his loving grandmother would help abandoned and abused children in the village and take them into her home. Ivan never forgot where he came from even though he now lives in the city, Kampala with his family.”

SACU holds a wide range of fundraisers, from pasta dinner, to winter galas, murder mysteries, golf outings and more. Heugh said she thought she would throw in a totally different fundraiser and give a comedy night a try. She said Leo and Diane Dufour have been “awesome to work with.”

“I remember Leo back in high school he was funny then and continues to make me laugh hysterically,” said Heugh. “I have attended some of his shows and recently attended a Komedy Korner Fundraiser that was held by CAS which gave me the idea.”

Ingrid Heugh, a retired teacher from Amherstburg Public School held a Komedy Korner fundraiser with Leo and Diane Dufour for Save African Child Uganda (SACU) at Shooter’s Roadhouse in Amherstburg. The event sold out and was a huge success for the organization.

Heugh had a waiting list of people who wanted to be called in case someone purchased a ticket and couldn’t attend. She said she wishes she could “stretch the walls” and make the building larger to accommodate the support she received from the community. The fundraiser brought the organization over $2,000 and Heugh said it was “the easiest fundraiser SACU has ever planned thanks to Leo and Diane Dufour.”

Heugh explained the money raised from the event will go towards finishing the classroom she started while she was in Uganda. She left when the first phase was completed, and she hopes the second and third phases will be done by the time the students return to school on February.

“We have built a shelter for abandoned and abused children, built classrooms, hired and paid for caring teachers and shelter moms,” said Heugh. “We also provide breakfast and lunch for all of our school children and provide medical if children become ill. The children in Buwundo and the nearby villages had very little hope for their future. Their parents and guardians don’t have enough money to send their children to a government school or the neighbouring schools. Most of the schools require the students to pay tuition, purchase their uniforms, shoes, school supplies, and even need to pay for their government exams, which we fundraise for our SACU students.”

The committee consists of Heugh, Sutts, Betty Westfall, Cheryl Rudgers, Kathy Vriesen, Margie Anson and Elaine Johnson. Heugh said they work hard to plan fundraisers and make decisions about what is important for the children and their futures.

Over the years, SACU has grown from 65 students when Heugh got involved in 2012. This past year, they have grown to accommodate 145 students.

“2018 is an exciting and challenging time for SACU with 15 young children starting up in February and we have our first 10 students from P7 graduate from Elementary,” said Heugh. “They wrote their government exam in November and are now waiting for their results which will determine which high school they will be attending. The students understand the importance of studying hard and listening attentively to their teachers to perform at their best. They truly are grateful for what we have put into place and provided for them, so they can have a brighter future.”

Retired teacher returns from humanitarian trip to Uganda

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A local resident spent three weeks in Uganda late in 2017 and her fundraising efforts for her cause is continuing in early 2018.

Ingrid Heugh, a retired Amherstburg Public School teacher, was in the Ugandan village of Buwando in late November and early December on behalf of Save African Child Uganda (SACU). Her humanitarian mission was her second to the African nation, having also gone two years ago.

Amherstburg resident Ingrid Heugh made a visit to Uganda late last year. She is a member of Save African Child Uganda (SACU). (Submitted photo)

“I had to go back and see the children,” said Heugh. “Once you meet the people, that becomes all you think about.”

SACU began under another retired teacher Geri Sutts in 2010 when Sutts developed the program with Ugandan resident Ivan Nsera. Early work included clothing and feeding the children and while that continues, matters have improved somewhat to where there is a shelter, school and food garden on their three-acre site.

“They were starving for food and an education,” said Heugh.

Heugh became involved with SACU about five-and-a-half years ago and helped fundraise for the $5,000 needed at that time to secure the title on the land they occupy.

While Heugh connected with Sutts in Uganda two years ago, she travelled alone this most recent trip.

“This trip was quite exciting,” said Heugh.

Students line up outside a schoolhouse in Buwando, Uganda. (Special to the RTT)

Working with Nsera and one of the head teachers, simply known as “Teacher Anne,” Heugh was able to see the completion of the first phase of a new classroom she helped have built. Heugh said the classroom was originally planned as a surprise to the rest of the SACU committee.

A fundraiser this Saturday night at Shooter’s Roadhouse in conjunction with Leo’s Komedy Korner will help fundraise for the completion of the Ugandan classroom.

Heugh complimented the teachers at SACU’s school, stating they work long hours and do an exemplary job. Any sort of abuse and disrespect of students isn’t tolerated at the school, though there is no law against it in Uganda, but Heugh said that isn’t an issue.

“At the time I was there, the school was just finishing and they were preparing their year-end concert,” she said.

The school resumes Feb. 1 and will include 15 new children and some will move on to high school.

“I’m happy to say ten of our students will start high school in this new year,” said Heugh. “We’re still waiting to see who passes the government exam. That will determine what programs in high school they will go in.”

A documentary was filmed, on the suggestion of Nsera, and that included following some of the children home. Those that don’t live in the shelter live in the village and many are still struggling, including siblings of SACU students.

“They literally have nothing,” said Heugh.

While SACU students are fed breakfast and lunch and are issued a uniform, some of their siblings and other village children don’t have that and often have to suck on a sugar cane for sustenance.

“My goal is to try and get more sponsors,” said Heugh. “We have about 100 sponsors right now but we need more sponsors for children. It just takes money. Our teachers are willing to take more students in their classroom.”

Yearly sponsorships are $350, Heugh noted.

“It’s less than a dollar a day that makes a difference for a child,” said Heugh.

Heugh brought six suitcases of donations and gifts with her to Uganda. While there, she was also able to successfully fundraise through Facebook for repairs and upgrades to a borehole that suffered damage and thefts to pipes that helped provide water to the school. She recalled being asked not to go when students were travelling to another water source but was saddened when she actually saw it as they were taking water that was brown and filthy.

Thanks to donations, the clean mineral water was re-established.

“It’s hard living,” Heugh said of life in the village. “It’s survival. The children help out a lot.”

Other goals are to provide more to eat each day such as bananas, fish, peanut butter and crackers. She added that a new kitchen was built recently for the school in memory of Madeline.

Tickets for Saturday’s fundraiser are nearly sold out but people can contact Heugh at 519-736-3512 for information. It begins at 8 p.m. Churches and schools can also call that number if they want Heugh to give a talk on her experiences with SACU.

In addition to Sutts and Heugh, SACU members include Betty Westfall, Cheryl Rudgers, Kathy Vriesen, Margie Anson and Elaine Johnson.

“Everyone brings a unique gift to the committee,” Heugh said. “Everyone has their specialty.”

Everything SACU is able to do is due to sponsorships and donations, Heugh said, and that all money raised goes directly to the village and the children based on the donor’s wishes. Visits to Uganda, such as the one Heugh just had, are paid for out of the committee member’s pockets.

“We pay our own way,” said Heugh.

Heugh also was part of a General Amherst 40th class reunion last fall at the Fort Fun Centre. The organizing committee of the reunion split the money they raised between the ALS Society in memory of Dave Scott and SACU and Heugh will put that money towards completion of the classroom in Uganda.

In addition, her son James also presented a Christmas event in Windsor in which he raised about $400 for SACU and goods for the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission. James Heugh is an “acro” athlete and is part of the Acro-Army team in Los Angeles.

Their website – www.saveafricanchildugan.wix.com/sacu – is “only at the beginning stages,” she said, SACU is looking for someone to help them with it. The public can also access information about SACU on YouTube & Facebook (Save African Child Uganda). Donations & Sponsorship cheques may be mailed to 6625 Matchette Rd., LaSalle, ON, N9F 2J9.

Amherstburg Public School taking a vow of silence

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg Public School will be going silent April 26 even though it will be a regular school day.

The school will be holding its third annual “Vow of Silence” next Wednesday and held a kickoff assembly to promote the event last Thursday morning. The “Vow of Silence” event is being organized by the Grade 7 classes taught by Melisa Mulcaster and Joanie Cotter.

Amherstburg Public School students will try to “Be the Change” as they will hold their third annual vow of silence April 26. The students are going silent so that less fortunate children and those who are bullied can have a voice of their own. A kickoff assembly was held April 13.

Amherstburg Public School students will try to “Be the Change” as they will hold their third annual vow of silence April 26. The students are going silent so that less fortunate children and those who are bullied can have a voice of their own. A kickoff assembly was held April 13.

“We’re going to be silent for the day,” explained student Erica Ayres. “We’re going to be silent for those less fortunate and those who don’t have access to basic human rights or clean water.”

“We are falling silent to give others a voice,” added classmate Breanna Lee. “Sometimes we take our human rights for granted.”

Lee noted that children in third world countries don’t have the same privileges they do with Ayres adding that some children in poor countries have to walk kilometres to get water that might not even be clean.

“People think that because you’re one person, it won’t make a difference, but it will,” said Ayres.

The Grade 7 classes showed the rest of the school a video showing those who are bullied and those in poorer countries need to have a voice.

“First world problems aren’t problems,” said Lee.

Ingrid Heugh speaks to Amherstburg Public School students on behalf of Save African Child Uganda (SACU). Heugh is a retired Amherstburg Public School teacher.

Ingrid Heugh speaks to Amherstburg Public School students on behalf of Save African Child Uganda (SACU). Heugh is a retired Amherstburg Public School teacher.

The classes are also trying to raise money to support two children they sponsor in Uganda through the Save African Child Uganda (SACU) program. Through the sale of T-shirts, they hope to allow the children – named Ronald and Hadijah – to stay in their Ugandan village and get an education.

Ingrid Heugh, a retired Amherstburg Public School teacher who now volunteers with SACU, said SACU now educates 145 students in Uganda. The students are fed breakfast and lunch each day.

Heugh said the children in Uganda want to be educated and that SACU is trying to help them.

“We all have rights because we are human,” said Heugh.

Acrobat with local roots performs on “America’s Got Talent”

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

James Heugh returned from a backpack trip around the world and headed to Los Angeles.

That relocation ended up with him making an appearance on an NBC broadcast of “America’s Got Talent.”

Heugh, 26, was born and raised in Amherstburg but now lives in Los Angeles and is part of the Acro Army group which performed on “America’s Got Talent.” Heugh and the rest of his acrobat colleagues were seen on the show that was broadcast Dec. 19.

James Heugh is part of the Acro Army acrobat group that appeared on the Dec. 19 episode of the NBC show “America’s Got Talent.” Heugh is originally from Amherstburg but now resides in Los Angeles. (Photo contributed by James Heugh)

James Heugh is part of the Acro Army acrobat group that appeared on the Dec. 19 episode of the NBC show “America’s Got Talent.” Heugh is originally from Amherstburg but now resides in Los Angeles. (Photo contributed by James Heugh)

“They hired Acro Army for the Christmas show,” said Heugh, explaining the group had already been on the show and was brought back for the Christmas episode.

“The production of the show is absolutely incredible,” said Heugh. “It was really a special experience.”

Heugh moved to L.A. after returning from the backpack trip. He was living in a van before getting an opportunity with Acro Army, an opportunity that arose after the partner he was training with let him know about it.

“The choreographer of the group decided he liked me and hired me on full-time,” said Heugh.

Acro Army trains in Redlands, California, which Heugh states is roughly 80 miles east of Los Angeles. While he has 160 miles of round-trip driving to do every training day, he said the move to California is “the best decision I’ve ever made for myself.

“I couldn’t think of a better situation,” he said. “I need to live around palm trees. I’m not a big fan of snow.”

Before his move west, Heugh worked at Maximum Training Centre in Windsor. He had been training in mixed martial arts (MMA) for six days a week but an injury forced him down a different career path. The Sky Society, an aerial dance and acrobatic group, rented space at the centre and Heugh got involved after they asked if he was interested.

It became a passion and he pointed out that “it’s not a hobby,” as he now trains 20-25 hours per week. It is something he has quickly grown to love.

“It makes you feel like you’ve never worked a day in your life,” he said.

Heugh added that he moved to Los Angeles without many plans.

“I just go with the flow,” he said. “Opportunity finds you when you work hard.”

Heugh added the group has “lots of plans for 2017, I’m told” and is appreciative of the support he has received from his hometown of Amherstburg and the area in general. He organized a Christmas party in Windsor where hundreds of items were raised for area food banks, including the Amherstburg Food Bank.

James Heugh (bottom) recently appeared on the NBC television show “America’s Got Talent.” The Christmas episode aired Dec. 19.

James Heugh (bottom) recently appeared on the NBC television show “America’s Got Talent.” The Christmas episode aired Dec. 19. (Photo contributed by James Heugh)

“The amount of support I’ve gotten from my hometown is pretty crazy,” he said.

His mother Ingrid said the episode of “America’s Got Talent” turned into a special occasion at their Amherstburg home.

“It’s been awesome. We had the whole family here (Dec. 19) cheering him on,” she said.

Ingrid, a retired Amherstburg Public School teacher, said several of the school’s students also went to the Christmas party.

While he is now back in California, Ingrid said they miss him but still greatly support his efforts.

“All a parent wants is for their child to be happy,” she said. “I truly know he is happy there. What more could you ask for?”