South African Child Uganda say thank you to sponsors



By Christian Bouchard


For as little as a loonie per day, South African Child Uganda is helping change the lives of hundreds of children.

Save African Child Uganda (SACU) is a non-profit organization established in 2007 and later started its operation in 2010 by a Ugandan children rights activist Ivan Nsera and Gerri Sutts in response to the ever-increasing need of HIV/AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children in difficult circumstances.

“We don’t know what poverty is here in Canada,” said Elaine Johnson, one of the six committee members.

SACU held a wine tasting event at Vivace Estate Winery to thank all their sponsors over the years.

From left to right: Rick Vreisen, Kathy Vreisen, Elaine Johnson, Ingrid Silvaggio, Cherryl Rutgers and Betty Westfall pose for a picture at Vivace Estate Winery at their sponsorship appreciation event for SACU.

For less than $1 a day, or $350 for a year, sponsors help children receive education, two meals a day, medical assistance for HIV and malaria, school uniforms and shoes as well as 24 hours a day care.

According to Johnson, the children are receiving one of the best educations possible. After eight years, Johnson noted SACU has now sent their first group off to high school, with most students excelling.

“The children go through a government testing,” said Johnson. “Our kids scored high and their marked outweighed the local schools in their area. Even the government school, they did much better.

Since its inception, SACU has helped 160 children attend school, away from poverty where they have seven classrooms, two shelters an outdoor chapel and bananas growing on site.

Ingrid Silvaggio, a committee member for SACU said they have been taking 15 new kids every year, but right now due to sponsorships, they are looking at sending just ten children to school the next go around.

“Sponsor have made a huge difference in a child’s life,” said Silvaggio. “They’ve created a whole new future for these kids. It’s an ongoing commitment from our sponsors and they’ve changed the children’s lives forever for less than a dollar per day.”

Those who are interested in becoming a sponsor are encouraged to contact Betty at 519-978-3623 or e-mail

Amherstburg Public School students take “vow of silence,” spread message in town



By Ron Giofu


Amherstburg Public School went silent last Tuesday as part of the annual “vow of silence.”

Amherstburg Public School students assemble for a group photo prior to their “Vow of Silence”.

The local elementary school saw students take the vow to recognize other youth that don’t always have a voice, including those who are bullied and those living in third world countries. Students also walked around town, many carrying signs and banners displaying their message.

Students, through teacher Melisa Mulcaster, did convey what their messages were and why they were having such an event thanks to written submissions.

“This day sends an amazing message to the rest of the community especially during our walk,” explained Grade 8 student Morgan Bezaire. “We travel the area around town staying silent to push our message further. To be able to see (Ugandan students sponsored by Amherstburg Public School) Ronald and Hadijah doing so well within SACU gives me even more encouragement to get this movement further out there to the world. No one should have to suffer like some of those in third world countries.”

Bezaire added that “we take many things for granted” and “today is a day to reflect and appreciate all of the things we have.”

Erica Ayres, another Grade 8 student, wrote that “there are some people in this world who cannot voice their rights because the rest of the world is too ignorant to notice. We need to become more aware of how many millions of children in third world countries are suffering (due to) a lack of basic human rights. Today, we stay silent so those children will be heard, so for one day we will fall silent so they can speak up.”

After sitting quietly for the group photo organized by the school, the students then left on a walk through the downtown core (left). Amherstburg Public School held the event as a way to show support for children who may not have a voice due to bullying or who live in third world countries.

Jesse Carter, also in Grade 8, said the day was about creating awareness for those whose voice is not heard, even though they cry for help.

“They do not have access to clean water, food and a right to education,” Carter stated. “We go silent to feel like they feel.”

Carter added they want to help “break poverty in third world countries” as well as give people rights to education, food, clean water and “for their voice to be heard.”

“Education is the key to all of this because they are drinking muddy, filthy water and they don’t know that’s actually hurting them or actually killing them,” said Carter. “With an education, they could get a job, leave their country and change the world.”

Amherstburg Public School going silent in support of less fortunate May 22



By Ron Giofu


Amherstburg Public School will be a quiet place to be May 22.

The Grade 8 classes at the school are heading up the “vow of silence” and are doing so in support of children who don’t have a voice. Those include students in Third World countries and those who are bullied.

“There are students who are bullied every day,” said Ben Pillon, who acted as master of ceremonies at an assembly last Friday with classmate Chelsea Boose. “These individuals exist on a global level and right here in our community.”

Pillon said that “we have amazing students here. We need to shine a light on them.”

Boose added that “everyone has a voice that needs to be heard.”

“We have made a lot of change happen and we continue to make an impact,” she said. “We need to take care of each other too – at our own school, out on the playground and in the classroom. We need to encourage others instead of putting them down. We need to stand up to those who aren’t doing that. If we don’t work together and try to build a positive school atmosphere, no one wins.”

Grade 8 students at Amherstburg Public will lead the “vow of silence.”

Amherstburg Public School sponsors two students named Ronald and Hadijah that live in Uganda. The two Ugandan students are sponsored through Save African Child Uganda (SACU) with SACU committee member and retired Amherstburg Public School teacher Ingrid Silvaggio Heugh speaking to the students about her cause.

“It’s all about human rights. That’s what the SACU committee believes in.

Heugh said a lot of work has been done thanks to sponsors, including the construction of homeless shelters and classrooms. SACU helps 160 children with schooling and food thanks to over 100 sponsors, said Heugh.

Heugh told the Amherstburg Public School students their fundraising efforts have taken children like Ronald and Hadijah from lives of destitution to lives where they now can dream of post-secondary educations and careers.

Children in the shelters take care of one another, she added, as “they know what it’s like to be abandoned and afraid.”

“We continue to seek sponsors,” said Heugh. “For less than $1 per day, you can make a difference.”

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

The “vow of silence” will be an all-day event for some, though some classes may do it for a period. The students are collecting donations up until the day of the event.

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 – – 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.”