We got involved, as a church, with the country of Uganda and with the diocese of Luweero in particular, in 1997 when Bishop Evans visited the UK in order to attend the Lambeth conference. He came to PCC.

We have made a number of reciprocal visits since. Nine years ago a large party went from St John’s to visit Luweero and Kampala. How are things there now?

Following the covid epidemic, schools have only just been permitted to re-open for the first time in almost two years. This means that for 22 months children have received almost no education. Some classes did re-open in October 2020, but closed again the following year. Most schools did not manage even that.

After one of the world’s longest school closures, Uganda authorities fear that at least 30% of students will never return to the classroom. This is a tragedy.

Some have started work. Others have married early. Many young girls have become pregnant, only to be abandoned by the father of their child.

While schools were closed, there have been some lessons via the radio, TV and newspapers. Despite these efforts, a great deal of learning is likely to have been forgotten during the long closure.

All in all, no less than 15 million students have been affected by the closure, according to government figures. UNICEF warns: “We must never let this happen again. We must keep schools open for every child, everywhere.”

Children are not the only ones to suffer. When schools closed, teachers ceased to be paid. Without social security this has been a huge cause of financial anxiety. We will see in next week’s article how recent government actions have made an already dreadful situation for those in need even worse.

A year ago our diocese raised about £36,000 for pastors and their families. Looking back we can see just how desperately needed that food aid was. It was truly a lifeline for many clergy families.