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Before October 27, pupils of Lakeside Preparatory Primary School would walk to the lake to collect unsafe water. This hindered their classroom activities and were at risk of contracting waterborne diseases. Things have rather changed when a hand-pump borehole was drilled at the school.

With the Uganda Buddhist Centre support as part of its Water and Sanitation Program, funded by VietCare.org, the newly drilled borehole will provide the school with a safe water source and improved hygiene and sanitation.

The new borehole was launched by Most venerable Bhante Buddharakkhita on October 27, 2019 which was also a cultural day for the school. In an expression of their gratitude, the school committee headed by Ms. Nakavuma offered fruits and other gifts to Bhante Buddharakkhita, an act that is very unusual.

In her letter of appreciation, the head teacher Ms. Nakavuma Pauline Sanyu, says that “…there is no way we can express our joy to you but through this letter, from the bottom of our hearts, we are really grateful for the borehole…” with unlimited supply of safe drinking water, children of Lakeside Preparatory School have more time to concentrate on their studies without having any worries of having to look for unsafe water from the lake.

The school is located along the shores of Lake Victoria about 4km from UBC with over 150 children. VietCare.org is an Australian based non-profit organisation that support humanitarian activities worldwide.

This borehole is one of our efforts to provide every individual in the community safe and clean water and to ensure that children in school have the best chance of success without any hindrance.

 

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The word Kathina is a Pali term which refers to a wooden frame used to make robes during Buddha’s time. The Kathina ceremony is a special event that bring together monastics and laities to share and reflect on the Dhamma. The ceremony happens in October after the three rains retreat (Vassa). It is also celebrated to show a mutually interdependent relationship between monastics and laities, where lay people abundantly cultivate merits and joy through generosity.

This year was the first time kathina is celebrated at the Uganda Buddhist Centre. The pre-Kathina ceremony was on October 13 and it included Bhante Buddharakkhita delivering a speech on the significance of Kathina ceremony and offering of food to over 80 children and gifts to over 20 women from the local village by Ms. Moe Moe.

The Sri Lankan community led by Mr. Kamal and his friends also donated food items to the temple.

The second kathina ceremony was on October 27th. The event opened with a one-hour meditation and Ven. Justin from Cambodia gave a talk on his mission to Uganda, a talk that inspired many of his listeners. He emphasized that he was sent by his teacher Most Venerable Abbot Mahanoeun Yin of Santa Ana Monastery (also Founder/President of Khmer Buddhist Relief Association) to bring alms (dana), and strengthen Buddhism in Uganda. His coming to Uganda laid a firm foundation for the establishment of Uganda-Cambodia Buddhist friendship.

On the same celebration, Bhante emphasized the significance of Kathina as a day of alms-giving to the Sangha and getting together which is also a practice in the African traditional culture. He also demonstrated to the local people on the Buddhist culture of Pindapata, where lay people lined up to offer alms to the monastics.

In the afternoon, Venerable Justin presented the robes that he had carried all the way from Cambodia. The robes were offered by his followers from Cambodia and he offered to the temple on their behalf. He further offered scholastic items and T-shirts to over 150 children from the village. He also generously offered school supplies to the Peace School.

This year’s kathina ceremony was a milestone in the history, growth and development of Buddhism in Uganda. In fact, Mr. Gihan De Silva and his family (Sri Lankan living in Uganda) requested and booked as the main kathina celebrant of 2020. He will offer robes to the monastics.

The team at the Uganda Buddhist Centre would like to express their gratitude and joy to venerable Justin for his generous heart. Your Venerable, so many people want to come support Dhamma in Africa, but you have taken the courage to come to Africa.

Venerable Justin narrates his experiences in Uganda during his recent visit to the Uganda Buddhist Centre.

“Thus, as a Buddhist Devotee, never in a million years did I think that I would actually be in Uganda as a Cambodian-American Buddhist Monk!

Due to the fact that my former upasampada preceptor, Most Venerable  Abbot Mahanoeun Yin (Bhante Bhikkhu Vinayadharo), was intrigued by the good deeds of Most Venerable Abbot Buddharakkhita, he decided to send me on a journey to Uganda Buddhist Centre to do more research on Most Venerable Abbot Buddharakkhita. In addition, the main purpose of my pilgrimage to Uganda Monastery was to interconnect and strengthen the relationship of Buddhism between Cambodia and Uganda.

Buddhism was unascertained in Uganda until a fully ordained Ugandan Monk (Bhikkhu), whose birth name was Steven Kaboggoza (ordained name is Buddharakkhita), introduced to Kawempe, Kampala, Uganda, on April 10, 2005; thus that was where the inception of Uganda Buddhist Center started. In 2006, Most Venerable Abbot Buddharakkhita relocated Uganda Buddhist Centre to Bulega Mbilu Village (Garuga, Katabi Subcounty, Busiro County, Wakiso District, Entebbe), where a Meditation Hall was constructed.  Presently, Uganda Buddhist Center is located in Bulega Mbiru Village (Garuga), approximately 6 Km off Entebbe-Kampala main road. However, the Uganda Buddhist Centre was not established with a consecrated boundary to be formally declared of the eight stones blessings, which is known as Sima (Sīmā), until 2016; the centre was not officially inaugurated to be called a monastery after the Eight-Stones Blessings Ceremony.

On October 18, 2019, at approximately 12:50 PM, the plane had landed in the Entebbe International Airport; the overwhelmed feelings were strongly amassed beyond one’s imagination. Thus, I had arrived in a country, Uganda, where I knew no one and not a thing about it, except the perilous aspects of politics and wild animals. At the window of getting my visa fee remunerated, a young man asked me, with his intimidated voice, “What business do you have in Uganda??! Where will you be staying?!

How long are you staying in Uganda??!”. The questions were not difficult to respond, but his intimidated voice worried me a bit; and yet I revealed no intimidations to him! Nevertheless, to make a long story short, as soon as I responded to one of his questions, I will be staying at Uganda Buddhist Centre; the young man seemed to be congenial to my presence. As I was exiting to meet Kivumbi Andrew Mukomazi, whom I had been communicated on messenger for several months before my pilgrimage, the menacing feelings seemed to be alleviated. In addition, on the way to Uganda Buddhist Centre, even more so, Andrew was able to make me feel safe by his affability; thus I realized that for the next two weeks of my stay in Uganda will be safe!

As Most Venerable Abbot Buddharakkhita has planted the Seeds of Dhamma in Bulega-Mbiru Village since 2005, many assistances to disseminate Buddhism in Uganda are still needed! According to Most Venerable Abbot Buddharakkhita, there are only about 45 local Buddhists but including Burmese, Chinese, Indians, Sri Lankans and Thais, the summation of Buddhists is approximately 400; that is practically nothing compared to the total number of population in Uganda (from World Population Review 2019, the population in Uganda is 44,774,854; approximately 44.27 millions). The majority of Ugandans believe in Christianity, which means that they are very unaccustomed to Buddhism; and with my personal experiences, some Ugandans think that Buddhism is a parasite. On October 30, 2019, while I had another opportunity to be in Kampala, I realized that the majority of Ugandans scrutinized me strangely; they did not even know that monks exist.

Nonetheless, whilst traffic was moving very slowly, we encountered a man with a book (Holy Bible), who was preaching about the scripture at the roadside, shouted at me “You go to hell …!”; Andrew and I turned to look at each other and smiled. We were practically speechless for his uneducated knowledge about Buddhism. However, due to the fact that they were busy with their quotidian lifestyle, some Ugandans couldn’t care less of my presence. Thus, I must dispense the elucidation of the term ‘Buddhism’! Buddhism is not a parasite as some Ugandans think; there are two languages in the term ‘Buddhism’ (Buddh + ism). ‘Buddh’ is the Pali language which derives from the term ‘Buddha’. In English, the term ‘Buddha’ means ‘the Awakened One, the Ultimate One, One who has fully attained enlightenment, or One who knows all’; the closest English translated terminology which I have selected for the term ‘Buddh’ is the word ‘awakening’. The term ‘ism’ is a ‘noun’ which has several meanings, such as ‘a distinctive doctrine, cause, or theory; a distinctive practice, system or philosophy, typically…; the system of beliefs’. Furthermore, the term ‘ism’ can be a ‘suffix’ which is used at the end of a word to form a ‘noun’, such as the terms capitalism, socialism, baptism, alcoholism, racism, Anglicanism, etc… With the combination of the two meanings (a distinctive practice and awakening), in my personal opinion, the term ‘Buddhism’ means ‘a distinctive practice to awakening’.

In conclusion, as the Cambodian-American Buddhist Monks, Most Venerable Abbot Mahanoeun Yin and I are most definitely intrigued by the good conducts of Most Venerable Abbot Buddharakkhita who is the first Ugandan Buddhist Monk to initiate Buddhism to Uganda. In addition, not only Most Venerable Abbot Buddharakkhita has introduced Buddhism to the village, but he is the Founder of Peace School as well; the school for Kindergartens. Furthermore, Abbot Buddharakkhita has created employment opportunities for the villagers at both the centre and school.

As for the perilous feelings that I had before I arrived in Uganda, were dissipated after a couple days of staying at Uganda Buddhist Centre. Thus, the experience which I had between October 18, 2019 through October 31, 2019 in Uganda was beyond my expectation. The hospitality from Most Venerable Abbot Buddharakkhita, Bhikkhu Sangharakkhita, Samaneras and the employees was far off than what I had imagined. The nostalgic remembrance which I will never forget. My profound gratitude to Uganda Buddhist Centre, Most Venerable Abbot Buddharakkhita and his staff!”

May all beings be liberated from all sufferings. May all beings always be blessed with the Four Buddha’s Blessings which are the Virtue of Longevity, the Virtue of Nobility/Complexion, the Virtue of Peace/Happiness and the Virtue of Vigor. May everyone encounter the three various opulences which are the Opulence of Mundane Being, the Opulence of Devada and the Opulence of Nibbana. Thus, whichever opulence you are desired; may you obtain that opulence as you wish. –

 Venerable (Sāmaṇera) TungTan, Liv Sieng Justin

 

Sources: Uganda Buddhist Centre; The Most Venerable Abbot Buddharakkhita; The Elucidation of the Term ‘Buddhism’; The Pilgrimage from The Motherland to East Africa: The Interconnection of Buddhism Between Cambodia to Uganda; World Population Review 2019; Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia.

 

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For those who have been at Uganda Buddhist Centre between 2007 and 2019, you probably have met Geoffrey. He was short, bold-headed and a gap between his teeth. He was very humble, joyful and hardworking. He could speak a few words in English language. I am sure you can now recognize Geoffrey.

Since 2007, Geoffrey has been Bhante Buddharakkhita’s caretaker. He would give Bhante hot water in a bucket to shower; he cleaned the temple and took care of the whole facility. He was so dedicated, so loyal and a humble servant of the Dhamma. He would do any work you assign him.

In late September this year, Geoffrey was diagnosed with what the doctor called “Clinical malaria”. He was put on a treatment for about a week. Geoffrey gradually started regaining his energy for the next two days. However, he kept carping that he has difficult with breathing, his energy also drastically deteriorated. We took him back to the hospital where he was admitted for 3days and properly treated.

On the following day, Geoffrey requested Bhante for a leave so that he could go visit his family in Lyantonde, his home village. Bhante himself together with his assistant escorted Geoffrey to his home village since it was also the first time for Bhante to visit Geoffrey’s home. Alas, after two days, we received a call from Geoffrey’s brother that Geoffrey is readmitted in Lyantonde referral hospital. When his health improved, he requested Bhante to go see him, so that he can show Bhante his family and son.

It was on October 9th (which is also Uganda’s independence), when Bhante arrived in Lyantode, where Geoffrey was still being held for treatment. In fact, when Bhante arrived, Geoffrey could walk and with no any difficult, spoke to Bhante. He showed him some of his family members, and requested one of his brothers to go show Bhante his son.

Little did we know, Geoffrey was saying bye to Bhante. Bhante returned from Lyantonde at around 9pm. At 12:20am, we received a phone call that Geoffrey has succumbed to Anaemia. It was very shocking and sad news. There is nothing we could do, after all, life is very uncertain.

As a team from the Uganda Buddhist Centre, and friends to the late Geoffrey, we are eternally grateful to Bhante Buddharakkhita for supporting Geoffrey from the time he came to the Uganda Buddhist Centre till the time that he passed to stillness. We are forever grateful for Geoffrey’s work at UBC and for his joy that he shared with us. May he attain final liberation!

Further to mention, Geoffrey left a son (Agaba Junior) of 1 year and 9 months. Prior to his death, Geoffrey had requested Bhante to take care of his child. The child is now absorbed to the Compassion Orphanage Program, and so far he has received support from Dolores Watson, Dawn Perryman who met Geoffrey last August.

 

 

 

Reactions Geoffrey’s death

I lived with Geoffrey only for a period of 2 months & some days before he passed away but he was a darling to everyone very kind, generous, hardworking, caring and welcoming regardless where you come from, basically words enough can’t describe him.

Whenever I see his son, I see Geoffrey and as UBC we shall always remember Geoffrey for his endless efforts towards supporting and disseminating Dhamma activities particularly in Uganda. 

Nansubuga Enid


Long gone friend!

I am glad our lives crossed paths but little did I know that it was just a junction.

Surely! Life is uncertain and death is certain. However, it gives me great joy that you found your purpose and that you gave your whole heart serving towards a noble cause. I remain humbled by the light and joy that you shared amongst the people at the Uganda Buddist Centre.

Andrew Mukomazi


Words fail me. But you were beyond a friend to me. Your jokes, laughter, kindness, love and joy you shared  with me still reverberate in my mind. What are they anyway—Thoughts streaming through the mind.

In the teachings of the Buddha, where you have been a humble servant and practitioner, all of us will eventually pass away. It is a natural process of birth, aging and death (life is of the nature of change).
May your merits that you have accumulated throughout your life be the gateway for your final liberation!

Andrew Bakaki

 

 

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Art is the backbone of a society. Historically, art was the way through which mankind shared life experiences.

Buddhist art was developed to present the timeless and profound teachings of the Buddha which has remained a pivotal part of the cultural fabric of most southeastern part of Asia. However, as the Dhamma spread and evolved in the different parts of the world including Africa, Buddhist art was adapted and assimilated to the culture and art of the host country. In Uganda, the teachings of the Buddha are having a great resonance where it continues to open hearts and minds.  The Uganda Buddhist Centre, with its adherents are inspiring and creating art to express and echo the timeless and universal teachings of the Buddha. Buddhism in Uganda has started attracting artists.

One of these artists is Gilbert Kalegga. He is a great artist in drawing Buddhist paintings and pictures. Currently, his paintings are displayed at the Uganda Buddhist Centre temple.

He narrates a story how he came to be interested in art from childhood.

Brief Background of Gilbert

“In 2009, I was in my primary six, twelve years old and dared myself to work on the late Michael Jackson’s portrait. In fact, it was so good that my class teacher requested to own it. It was a turning point in my life when I realized my talent and abilities since I had never thought of being an artist.

Eight years later, while I was in high school at London College of St. Lawrence, I reflected on the idea of being an artist. Consequently, I started getting commissions for all kinds of portraits from the school staff.

In 2017, during my vacation, I volunteered with Dwelling Places, a Christian organization dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating street children, abandoned babies and high-risk slum families in Uganda.

Also, I joined a private Arts and Design gallery where I trained in teaching art and compound design for eleven months till mid-2018. However, I felt like I haven’t yet fully explored my creative potential. Therefore, I embarked on a mission of boundless self-discovery. This led me to discover a unique art I had never seen in Uganda. In the same period, I met Venerable Bhante Buddharakkhita who advised me to start making Buddhist paintings and art.

Currently, my aspiration is to make these paintings more affordable for all people, establish a self-sustained workshop, gallery and a Buddhist Arts and Design Institute.

Furthermore, I would like to teach Buddhist art at the Uganda Buddhist Centre Peace School.

I am established at the Uganda Buddhist Centre. I am kindly requesting for support to boost Buddhist art in Uganda and Africa.

Below are the different sizes of the artwork I do with their respective prices in Uganda Shillings (USD 1 = UGX 3,670)

A0 | A1| A2|A3+| A3| A4 |A5| A6.

Size Without a frame With a Frame
Medium Large
A0 118.9 * 84.1cm 415,400 250,000 320,000
A1 84.1 * 59.4cm 324,300 170,000 220,000
A2 59.4 * 42.0cm 260,200 90,000 140,000
A3+ 48.3 * 32.9cm 226,700 72,000 80,000
A3 42.0 * 29.7cm 215,000 60,000 68,000
A4 29.7 * 21.0cm 183,000 40,000 45,000
A5 21.0 * 14.8cm 160,000 20,000 28,000
A6 14.8 * 10.5cm 144,000 10,000 ______

 

 

 

 

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The Uganda Buddhist Centre offers a volunteer program for people who would like to contribute to its mission of creating a culture of peace through the teachings of the Lord Buddha. We receive volunteers from various places that support our activities. Currently, there are two volunteers, Enid Nansubuga and Kalega Gilbert, who are greatly contributing to the growth and development of Buddhism in Uganda.

Enid is a young lady with excellent experience in statistical analysis, taxation, and business management. Before joining the Uganda Buddhist Centre, she worked in the Uganda coffee industry with Uganda Coffee Federation, National Union of Coffee Agribusiness Farmers Enterprises (NUCAFE) and Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA).

She also worked as Finance and Administrative Personnel with UTZ the Netherlands country office and Kisa Holdings Ltd.

She now assists the Uganda Buddhist Centre with finance and administrative functions such as documentation, financial expenses and other administrative roles.

Enid says that;
“working with the Uganda Buddhist Centre community and with the guidance of Bhante Buddharakkhita, will enhance my spiritual wellbeing and the understanding of Dhamma as well as develop in the humble life of Buddhists.”

As a team at the Uganda Buddhist Centre, we believe Enid is an asset regarding daily financial operations of UBC.

 

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The children at Peace School found it a bit hard to engage in extracurricular activities in order to develop their mental and physical abilities. We would like to acknowledge Ms. Dolores Watson and Dawn Perryman from the U.S., for generous donation and offering out door slides, sling swings & rotating wheel swings.

This brought overwhelming joy. The Uganda Buddhist Centre would like to extend our sincere gratitude for your kind contribution.

 

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Venerable Bhante Buddharakkhita often does routine checks at the Uganda Buddhist Centre, Peace School and other projects.
One day as he was passing-by the Peace School, he found out that the privacy of the school is at the mercy of the public. Intruders were entering the school to use its playground and make noise which interrupted school activities. To enhance the security at the Peace School, he decided to install a chain link on the perimeter fence.
The cost of beefing up security was USD 313.84. Certainly, the newly erected fence will eliminate trespassers and increase safety of children and staff.

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Dolores Watson met Bhante in 2009, while Bhante was teaching at IMS in Barre, Massachusetts. She asked him to be her teacher and Bhante accepted.  Later, Dolores spent three days driving all the way from New Orleans to meet Bhante at Bhavana Society in West Virginia. The culmination of this meeting was the establishment of Flowering Lotus of which Bhante Buddharakkhita became a Spiritual Advisor. However, both Bhante and Dolores are no longer affiliated to Flowering Lotus Meditation Centre. She founded Radiance Retreat Center in Magnolia, Mississippi, where Bhante is the current Spiritual Advisor.

After ten years, their friendship culminated into the arrival of Dolores to the Uganda Buddhist Centre to show her support for Bhante and his Dhamma activities in Uganda, Africa.  Dolores came along with her friend, Dawn Perryman to Uganda on the night of August 3, 2019.

On the following morning, Dolores and Dawn distributed items that they had carried to UBC’s women economic empowerment group and teenage girls. Some of the items offered included clothing, detergents, chocolates and sanitary towels. The two demonstrated to the young girls how to use the sanitary towels that they offered.

On August 6, 2019, Bhante took the visitors to the Peace School, where they interacted with the children and the staff. On their arrival to the school, two children offered them flowers, a moment which was very humbling and touching for Dawn and Dolores. Dawn and Dolores also offered chocolates and candies to the children, and had a grand tour of the whole school while Bhante Buddharakkhita highlighting the development plan of Peace School.

Remember: Peace School is an education program of the Uganda Buddhist Centre, established to provide holistic and high-quality education while embracing African values, Buddhist values and the Uganda National Curriculum to children.

Thereafter, they were taken to St. Paul Bulega Primary School and Bugabo Primary School, where they had a grand welcome and cultural entertainment by the Primary Six pupils. Bhante has offered boreholes to both schools, thus providing access to safe and clean water for children and the nearby communities.

Later in the afternoon, they travelled to Ssese Islands to see the land that Bhante is planning to buy for expansion and establishment of a retreat center.

Together with Bhante, Dolores, Dawn and other UBC members visited the Source of River Nile, the longest river in the world. While in Jinja, they also visited the Palace of Obwa Kyabazinga Bwa Busoga (Busoga Kingdom).

Dolores’ visit to Uganda coincided with her 77th birthday on 12th of August. The UBC team and members of the community surprised her with a birthday celebration gifts. She was moved to tears by the generosity of the UBC members. On the same event, Bhante offered gifts including umbrella trees for both Dolores and Dawn to plant at UBC.

Dolores had plans to travel to Kenya and Rwanda, but she canceled the trips on the grounds that she needed more time to experience Uganda. In the afternoon, Bhante took Dolores and Dawn to visit Golden Hearts Kindergarten and Day Care Centre in Kasenyi, Entebbe. The school was established by Counsel Joseph Kalemba, a volunteer legal adviser at UBC.  Later on, Dolores donated USD 1,000 towards the installation of a borehole. Moreover, in appreiciation of Kalemba’s legal advice, Bhante donated USD 312 towards plastering the floor of classrooms.

UBC team and the local communities, are eternally grateful for her continued generosity towards the Centre.

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As we join the rest of the world to overcome hunger and malnutrition, the UBC organized its campaign of the “Third Walk to Feed the Hungry” on Sunday, August 18, 2019.

The walk was led by Bhante Buddharakkhita and over 500 people including UBC members, people from the village, children from 3 local schools, and distinguished guests participated in this campaign.

Hunger and malnutrition are a very big global challenge. In the villages surrounding the UBC, many children including orphans cannot afford a square meal.  Some children in schools cannot afford lunch and yet they have to study the whole day. The causes of hunger include endemic poverty, wastage of food and lack of knowledge of the potential foods available in Uganda. Poor people cannot afford food rich in health-sustaining nutrients. According to the Buddha, “Hunger is the worst diseases, conditioned things the worst suffering. Knowing this as it really is, the wise realize Nibbana, the highest bliss.” (Dhammapada 203). Certainly, if one is hungry, one cannot listen to the Dhamma thus hindering one’s spiritual growth and development.

To overcome this challenge, Uganda Buddhist Centre started a program called, ‘Hunger Relief Program’, which offers nutritious food to over 50 children monthly from Bulega village.

Purpose of Walk to Feed the Hungry

The “Walk to Feed the Hungry” campaign is intended to create awareness about global hunger and resources to develop sustainable food security system. The gift of food is the gift of life.”

The walk campaign was started by the Buddhist Global Relief (BGR) chaired by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi in New York, USA. Ven. Buddharakkhita is a Spiritual Advisor at BGR and he has led a couple of walks since their inception. Ven. Buddharakkhita introduced these kind of solidarity walks in 2015 in Uganda. Since then, the number of participants has been increasing.

This year’s walk featured the feeding of over 500 people by the Sri Lankan community in Uganda. Furthermore, Kamal and his Sri Lankan friends demonstrated the number of foods wasted in Uganda such as potato leaves, banana flowers, cassava leaves and green papaya.

Part of the cultural show included a poem presentation on how hunger affects mental and physical health by Bugabo Primary School. Finally, Venerable Bhante Buddharakihtta gave a brief talk on the significance of the walk before he flagged off the walk.

 

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With the generous donations from VietCare.org (Vietnamese organization), the children of Lake Side Primary in Gerenge have a sustainable future of plentiful clean and safe water. We are drilling a borehole to provide the school with safe and clean water. The school has been relying on water from the lake and sometimes rain water catchment systems.

The borehole will benefit over 150 school children and hundreds of households neighboring the school. This new borehole is expected to be completed towards to the end of August 2019.

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