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 – – 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.

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