Get Flash

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Big Give!

It's been an incredible two days - a real roller coaster. Monday saw the launch of The Big Give Double Donation - an unprecedented initiative taken by The Big Give and the Reed Foundation to match £1million worth of donations going through the site. Every donation, up to a certain amount, would be doubled until the £1million ran out. With over 5,000 charities eligible, the offer wasn't ever going to last for long!

15 minutes after the launch, the response had been so overwhelming that the Big Give had to temporarily suspend the scheme - until midday today when it all kicked off again. Once the dust settles we'll know how many people were able to donate through the site.

With the current challenges facing River of Life - the double whammy of plummeting exchange rates and high inflation - this could be a really decent boost to our funds as we seek to finish the boys home, get more children at risk into school and take on more community care work through our Mercy Missions.

A big thank you to everyone who made donations!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Crane Mail is launched (finally!)

After months of promising we're going to launch Crane Mail - the email newsleter from River of Life - we have finally managed to do it! We hope you like the result...

The December 08 Crane Mail contains links to download the latest newsletter, which was published end of November, as well as drawing attention to The Big Give, and our brand new Christmas Gifts Catalogue, which you can download from the website!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

River of Life photos on Flickr

We've posted a whole load of photos on Flickr to help you get more of an idea of what's going on at River of Life.

You can view the slideshow by clicking here

There's a set of photos specifically about Babiyire and Josephine, two very malnourished babies that were abandoned at Nazareth Children's Home, an orphanage a mile up the road from River of Life where the White Eagles help out. These images are quite distressing - Babiyire and Josephine were very very thin - but after 4 weeks at Kitovu hospital in the Intensive Feeding ward they were discharged positively plump!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What an amazing trip!

As predicted, it was nigh on impossible to find time to update the blog, even if we had had the internet connection! Our - Rob, Katharine, Christina, Sarah and Sarah - trip to Uganda was absolutely brilliantly awesome! For me (Rob), it was the first time I'd been for 2 years, and it was SO good to see everyone again. I felt proper parental as I proudly saw 'my' kids grown up - there's something immensely powerful about seeing the White Eagles shaking free of everything that has held them back, as they respond to the love and care our wonderful staff give them. Don't get me wrong - it's no bed of roses. You put 27 boys in to the same house, or 7 girls in the same house, you're going to get some fruity moments - the boys being fruitier. But I am absolutely buzzing with excitement with seeing the White Eagle girls and boys blossoming...

I can hardly do the trip justice here - others are far better wordsmiths than me. Some of what we got up to will come through other blog articles as I update progress and news on existing projects, and new ones. But what I probably won't be able to do is fully communicate the real depth of excitement I feel about the work we're doing. I love it! I absolutely love it. There is nothing I'd rather be doing.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Going to Uganda...

In a week, five of us are off to Uganda, including 3 girls who have never been before - Sarah, Sarah and Christina. We hope to keep you updated with what we get up to, but bearing in mind how Tim struggles to get internet access, we might not manage it.

September is school holidays for the White Eagles, so we'll be doing a full programme of activities for the kids for the 2 weeks we're there, as well as reviewing progress on building the boys home, looking at the farm project we have, checking out the new White Eagle Families scheme and all the other amazing things that are going on...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

We've been blown away with the response to the bike ride!

Unbelievable! We've had an amazing response to the sponsored bike ride - we've raised nearly £17,000! That's beyond our wildest dreams, and has prompted us to plan to keep going with the next phase - building the retaining wall to hold up the terrace it's all being built on. In the picture you can see the new kitchen and store going up... If you've donated or supported us in any way, thank you so much!

Also, the On-yer-Bike-for-River-of-Life escapade has inspired Damien 'the saddle' Dacey and Tim 'free wheelin' Burbidge down in Bristol to do even more! 60 miles will be nothing to them as they battle 600, yes 600 miles across France to the med! Respec' to them!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Thank you for sponsoring us!

Here's a massive thank you to everyone that sponsored us for the epic Manchester to Blackpool bike ride! It was 60 miles, well 65 for those of us who got a little lost (!), of riding in the most amazing sunshine - not the raining cats and dogs we were expecting at all! Sponsorship is still coming in, and it's not too late to sponsor us online at our Just Giving page.

And of course, a huge thank you to Eddy, Ming, Dan, Mark, Andy, Tim, Sarah, Christina and Rob, our 9 heroic riders! We didn't get off to the best of starts, loosing a peddle, a saddle and one bike only being able to turn right due to a trapped cable, but we all crossed the finish line in the end (even if it was from the opposite direction!)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cycling to Blackpool? You must be crazy...

Here's the grizz - a team of 8 crazy fools are biking 60 miles from Manchester to Blackpool this sunday 13th July come rain or shine (or hail, thunder, lightening or gale if the last few weeks are anything to go by...) to help raise funds for continuing to build the new boys home - the second and third phases of kitchen, dining room, store, toilets and retaining wall are almost complete, but we need to raise a lot more money to move on to the next phases of washrooms, bedrooms and bed-sit! You can see more info by downloading this PDF which has photos of progress so far...

We've had to have some team changes - Katharine has been badly injured in training this week - she came off in a thunderstorm :( thankfully nothing's broken, but she's not going to be fit to bike 60 miles sadly. 

So with zero preparation, and with only 60 hours to go before the big day, Dan the big man has stepped up to take Katharine's place. He just about knows which end of a bike is which...

And, I'm so excited about this! After keeping it under wraps for weeks, we can also break the extraordinarily exciting news that, all the way from Masaka, Uganda we have the bombastical, the legend, the flippin hero the Rev Timothy R Crow AKA Rabu Ragtoe AKA the Rabumeister AKA simply, Timoth and White Eagle Daddy himself c'mon! c'mon! YES! BRAP!!!

He's flown 4,000 miles back to blighty specially early to join us - there was something about surprising his beautiful girlfriend too, but what dedication! What commitment! 
What he doesn't know is that the bike I've got for him is this one -

And also, I've just noticed over on his blog, he's offered to ride the last mile naked if we raise more than £5,000!!!! On that saddle?!

So please reach deep into your pockets if you can, and help us reach our target! 

You can sponsor us online here at our JustGiving sponsorship page and you can also read more team news on there...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fancy a non-coffee? A new fundraising idea...!

Just had to quickly write and talk about a new fundraising idea from Barabara, one of our Trustees. She's set up a JustGiving page for a TrickleFund - the idea being that everyday we can save a little bit of money to help Uganda's kids through River of Life... She writes:

"Everyday there's money you don't spend .....Walked instead of taking the bus? NOT bought that chocolate cake? Put the money in the Uganda Trickle Fund instead! Better for you and for Uganda's children!

And then there's washing machine money, sofa money, forgotten in pockets money, found on the floor money - especially in SOME people's bedrooms who shall be nameless - come on guys, donate your forgotten money - you can't have needed it!

Don't forget that if you pay tax Gift Aid makes your donation worth 28% more -at no cost to you!"

So if you've just found a couple of 20p pieces down the back of the sofa, or even an old fiver in the back pocket of a pair of jeans, why not donate it to River of Life, and help provide for some of Uganda's most vulnerable kids by donating to the TrickleFund!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Introducing the White Eagle Family Project!

We have some very exciting news to share - this month we have launched a whole new scholarship program supporting 18 vulnerable and needy kids within their families! That brings the number of kids we are helping directly through our sponsorship program to 52, which is a huge milestone for River of Life and alongside the hundreds of kids that we're getting alongside through our youth work and sports ministry, the people we're visiting and assisting through the Mercy Missions, the work we're doing with agricultural development and the links we're building with Northern Uganda, it feels like we've definitely moved up a gear in the first half of 2008. Hallelujah!

Anyway, back to our new White Eagle Families. We've recognised for a long time the need to support families as much as possible - afterall the absolutely best place for children is within a loving family. The strains and stresses of Ugandan life - poverty, sickness, hardship - often stretches the social safety net of the family to breaking point, and children can fall through the gap and end up working on the streets, or in the markets, earning a few shillings a day to supplement the family income. That's the best case scenario - what also happens is that 'unwanted' children - perhaps from a previous marriage, or from a sister who has died - fall to the bottom of the pecking order and are neglected and considered a burden on the rest of the family: often resulting in them running away.

So what better thing to do than to complement our 'reactive' White Eagle work that saves kids from the street, with 'proactive' work that supports parents straining with looking after large families, including nephews, nieces, half brothers and step-sisters by providing scholarships? Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, that's exactly what we've been able to do! The kids are enjoying going to better schools whilst growing up in a loving family environment - fabulous.

Of course there are many more potential 'White Eagle Families' that need our help who we are unable to support (yet!) so if this exciting new venture has tickled your fancy and you'd like to find out more or become a supporter, drop us an email

Thursday, May 8, 2008

14 guests to stay!

Our 3 bed bungalow has been host to 14 of the White Eagle Boys recently! With the rest of us here, we've had over 20 people round the dinner table... I'll start from the beginning. I've been back in Uganda 2 weeks now, after our emergency visit to the UK to see Duncan's mum. The night before I was due to fly back another emergency meant I took off to Leeds, instead of Entebbe, to spend the best part of a month with family - Duncan had to return to Uganda on his own and attend to the funeral arrangements for Jjaja Rose. I have to be honest, it's been a really really tough time recently, it feels like we've been through the mill.

But, on the first Sunday I was back, Church was lovely, it was so good to be there. Duncan and I had had a short break in Kampala, and we'd decided this school holiday to spend a lot of time with the kids. So from Wednesday to Saturday morning, 14 of the older boys came to stay with us in our home! Each day 2 stayed and work in Bwala our home and 12 went to work on Kibaya Farm. We have cooked lots of food as they have worked really hard - Tim went with them and took photos which you can see. Also he took some good video footage to make a promotional DVD for this summer - do pray for him in this as it's a lot of work!

Then in the evenings we had a topic, teaching and discussions. The first night was 'integrity' - it was great. The second was 'sex and single life' - I put it together and opened the session but then left it to the men to talk men to men! Then the third night they all went to John's home to watch some football match, so they didn’t go to bed till about 1am - but they were up again at 6:30am. The last night's topic was 'money - good or bad' and finishing with watching the Passion of Christ. And on Saturday morning we had a time of sharing what they got out of the sessions as well as looking at employment and work. They all really worked hard, we are so enjoying this holiday time with them!

You can see how hard the boys work. Here's what it looked like before:

And here it is after! All ready for planting crops and delicious food:

You can read Tim's take on the events on his blog

Thank you to all our supporters, and God bless

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Reverend Ragtoe & DJ Duncan

Check out Tim's latest video - a tribute to the White Eagle's spectacular performance in this year's football tournament. As an added treat, he's somehow managed to get Pastor Duncan bustin' out some beats in a rasta-wig, whilst he raps "get ready for the skill of the white eagle, the kings of football, their skills are regal".

He's a special one.

Go to the River of Life YouTube Channel, sit back, and, laugh or cry, you'll love it!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Remember that newest member of the Church?

When we first started this blog we wrote about little Mercy, so-called by one of our elders because of the Mercy God had shown on her life. We found abandoned in a saucepan by the side of the road - she was so thin and scrawny and obviously undernourished back then, it was terrible - we have a photo of her but it's too distressing to post it here. Anyway, she joined the big White Eagle family here and she is getting on so well, we just had to write about her. She has everyone wrapped around her little finger, chatters away in English and Luganda and is a really bright little spark.

A total transformation compared to how she was when she came to us, praise God! Here she is with Tim, after a chapatti making session...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fundraising for River of Life's easy!

Did you know that you can set up a fundraising sponsorship page at the click of a button? Just head over to Justgiving and follow the instructions to set-up a fundraising page, and make sure you link it to "River of Life Uganda". Your friends and family then donate through your webpage... and if you're thinking "I can't do a sponsored event - doesn't that mean running a marathon? or doing a skydive? or sitting in a bath of baked beans for 24 hrs? I'm not doing any of those!" help is at hand! Because a casual browse of the Justgiving "Inspiration for Fundraisers" blog entries shows just how creative you can be in designing a 'sponsored' event. Of course here's your Lands End to John o'Groats bike rides and London Maranathon runners, but there are also men who shave off their beards, a team called the 'Urban Ironing Collective' who will do your ironing for a £15 donation, pancake races, and much more besides. A lot of people are setting up 'In memorium' pages for when a loved one dies, or forsaking birthday gifts and asking people to donate to charity instead. We'll be encouraging everyone to do something later in the year when we hold the first ever International River of Life Gift Day Bonanza - here's hoping for loads of wacky fundraising ideas!

As well as using Justgiving, River of Life is set up with MyCharityPage, another online fundraising page, and our building appeal is listed on theBigGive
webpage - search for projects in Uganda, Eastern Africa under £25,0000. Check us out...

I'll be writing much more about fundraising ideas in the near future, so watch this space if you want to get involved...

In memorium Jjaja Rose

It is with great sadness that we write of the death of Duncan's mother, known to many as Jjaja or Maama Rose (depending on how old you were). Any of you who have visited Duncan & Mary will no doubt have either met her, visited her or eaten great piles of matooke and chicken at her house on the outskirts of Kampala. We have all been knocked sideways by her death, which was a few weeks ago now, on March 8th.

However, we were so overjoyed that Duncan and Mary were able to get back to the UK a few days before and have a great time with her before she died. Thank you all so much for all your prayers, and thank you to those who made this unplanned visit possible.

Having had some time to recover, we'll be much better at updating this blog thing. Honest :)

Friday, February 29, 2008

Watch Tim's Videos!

Armed only with a camcorder and his MacBook, Tim's been busy creating fabulous videos of the footie tournaments and life at River of Life in general. The 2006 promo video has been on YouTube for a while, but we're now just beginning to post all our videos there. So head over to our channel on YouTube to see the 2007 promo, our little donate now video and more, as and when I get the footage to post it...

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Communications Revolution is here!

So here we are at last! River of Life Uganda has made the giant leap into the online world, because we want to connect more and better with our sponsors and supporters. So please browse our new website at , find out more about the White Eagles, our Youth Work, the Mercy Missions, our Enterprise work, our work in Reconciliation and our Prayer life, particularly our fledgling Masaka Prayer Mountain for the Nations. If you want to find out more, then why not register for updates?!

This blog is specifically for the growing crowds of people who have been to, heard of, donated to, loved, prayed for, been inspired by, got teary about, dreamt of, and want to be eternally joined-at-the-hip with everyone at RIVER OF LIFE, MASAKA, UGANDA! BRAP!!! I'm writing it from the perspective of a currently UK-based Muzungu who's also a Trustee of Uganda River of Life Ministries, the UK charity set up to support River of Life Uganda. So we'll have lots of news on fundraising, visits, initiatives, developments and all things going down in Nyendo, Masaka, and Uganda. From our new website you can also read Rabu's beautifully crafted Bombastical Badboy Blog, and we've even got Duncan and Mary doing a bit of blobbing...

So make our news Your news, and get involved!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Duncan & Mary online (take 2)!

So, after briefly experimenting with 'blogging' at the end of 2006, we're going to now really get into it - at least as much as the power and internet access of Masaka allows! Our trustees in the UK have been working hard to help us communicate with our supporters using all this new technology - the website, email, blogs - and we really hope that it will help our supporters feel connected to the work that's going on out here. We're about to send out a newsletter with all the latest updates, and launch our new website and e-bulletin - it's very exciting! Let us know what you think... In the meantime, let us say a big hello from everyone here at River of Life, and we look forward to 'connecting' with you more!
(written by Rob D (Trustee, on behalf of Duncan & Mary)