We at the African Refugee Education Project (AREP) are a small charity whose main focus is the education of young people in Uganda, South Sudan and Kenya.
The Purpose of the Charity as agreed with the UK Charity Commission which regulates AREP (we are Registration Number 1145790):
“The objects of the Charity are to relieve poverty and advance the education and training of persons, particularly but not exclusively young people, living in East Africa, to enable them to acquire and develop those practical and academic skills which may assist them to improve their conditions of life.”
“The Trustees shall have power to provide:
a. Grants or loans in respect of tuition, subsistence and accommodation costs at schools, colleges, universities and other establishments of higher education in East Africa;
b. Text books and other educational resources to schools, colleges, universities and other educational establishments.
c. Work experience for periods up to three months.
d. Grants for medical expenses.
e. Any other grants which Trustees in their absolute discretion will forward the aims of the Trust.”
All operations of the charity are accomplished with volunteers. We registered with the UK Charity Commission on February 8th 2012. Our Registered Charity Number is 1145790.
Our logo was designed jointly by Nathan Stazicker, a student in the UK and Richard, one of the South Sudanese refugees who was studying in Uganda. Nathan went on to study at Cambridge University. Richard returned to South Sudan after A Levels, but then was displaced by the Civil War and had to flee to one of the refugee camps in Northern Uganda.
The project had its genesis in 1992 when Nigel Lea-Wilson met Lino at the Namirembe Guest House in Kampala. Lino wasn’t wearing any shoes. He was staying in Kampala on a metal-working course, but was based in the Kiryandongo Refugee Camp in Northern Uganda. He was a refugee from the Civil War in South Sudan.
Correspondence resulted and over the next several years some support for school fees was sent to Uganda from time to time.
But it wasn’t until 2006 that the project started in earnest. A visit to the camp took place and photos of some of the children were brought back to the UK.
Nigel Lea-Wilson was a Physics Teacher at Great Sankey High School at the time. Initial support came from the Forms then in Year 9 at Great Sankey High School. The children left the Camp together with Lino and his wife Florence and moved to Kampala. Their schooling began in January 2007.
AREP as a charity was registered in the UK with the UK Charity Commission in Feb 2012.
Now in late 2018 the children have almost completed 12 years of education! It has been a challenging period when inflation in Uganda has been high and the value of the UK Pound sterling has fluctuated widely. Several of the children have completed Senior 4 (O Levels or GCSEs) and some have also completed Senior 6 (A Levels). Only two so far have had any kind of University education. We have also sponsored some vocational training in Baking and Tailoring.
In addition to the South Sudanese children, there are currently a few children being sponsored in South West Uganda.
We support children at schools in Uganda.
The school system in Uganda is different than in the UK. Their school year begins in January and ends in December. There are exams at the end of every year. If you pass your exams, you progress to the next year. If you fail, you have to repeat the year.
In Uganda, there are seven years at Primary School: P1 through to P7.
At the end of P7 children take their Primary Leaving Exams (PLE).
Those children who gain high marks in the PLE are offered places at the top Secondary schools.
Then there are four years at Secondary School: S1 to S4.
S4 is equivalent to UK GCSE level.
Finally, for those who go on to do A Levels, there are two further years: S5 and S6.
The trustees of the African Refugee Education Project are:
Nigel Lea-Wilson, recently retired from teaching Physics at Great Sankey High School, Reader at St Helens Parish Church, who was born in Uganda and visits to audit the activity of AREP each year.
Roger Chard, previously Head of Chemistry at Great Sankey High School, now Head of Chemistry at a school near Manchester.
Colin Gaskell, a Manager at RBS and Treasurer at St Helens Parish Church.
Gill Lea-Wilson, florist and previously a part-time Childminder and also a member at St Helens Parish Church
The project began with a visit to a Refugee Camp in Northern Uganda.
We believe in continuing close personal knowledge of what is happening on the ground, which means periodic visits to East Africa. Of course we are also in very regular contact via the most appropriate channel – usually WhatsApp.
To date, visits have taken place as follows:
August 2006, August 2009, Dec 2011 and Nov/Dec 2014, Nov/Dec 2015, Jan 2016, Nov 2017, Nov 2018.
Although our fund-raising is targeted directly for school fees, each year we try and pursue one or more limited-scale development projects which lead to some kind of empowerment and/or potential income generation. We want to increasingly emphasise trade rather than just aid, a hand-up rather than a hand-out.
Recent examples have included:
Eco-Stoves in Palabek Camp, Bweyale, Kiryandongo Camp and Kampala;
We have a separate much smaller operation called the Kibera Fund which is 100% dedicated to Rev Wachira Maina’s work in part of the Kibera slum in Kenya. The aims are the same as the work in Uganda and South Sudan, namely empowerment through good education.