2020 was a year like no other! For Hands4Uganda (H4U), this meant major leadership changes and a critical review of our functional organization. At the end of 2020 the Board of Directors and volunteers met for three days to evaluate H4U operations and our strategic plan. Our goal was to ensure best practices and the long-term sustainability of Rock of Ages Community School (ROA) despite uncertainties such as the COVID-19 pandemic. I am pleased to share with you the next few stories listed in this blog and featured in our July newsletter - each article a story, a prayer answered, and a testament to how our God always provides. 

Sponsorship is the lifeblood of H4U. It is through this funding - your continued monetary support of these students - that we are able to do what we do. We greatly feared a decline in sponsorship as the pandemic created financial uncertainty for so many. While we continue to strive for 100% sponsorship of the students at ROA, I am pleased to share that we not only maintained but grew our sponsor support over the past year. 

Many have asked where their sponsorship funding has been going throughout the COVID-19 pandemic while the students have not been attending school. Through your continued contributions we have been able to ensure ongoing salaries for all faculty and staff. Medical visits by students and staff to the nearby Health Clinic have increased by about 50% since the beginning of the pandemic, many reporting COVID-like symptoms and seeking a COVID test. Healthcare for all students, faculty, and staff are covered through sponsorship dollars. In addition, food has been periodically delivered to all students and families with the aid of local officials ensuring COVID-19 protocols are followed. Thank you for making these things possible!


Finishing touches at the new school facility were completed so that when students are able to return all areas of the building are fully functional. Additionally, a two-story chicken coop, hosting 300 egg laying hens, was built in order to supplement the student food program. This coop will be tended by the 6th grade class as they explore agriculture and animal studies throughout their education. 


We were able to bring the Primary 7 students on campus in October of 2020, provide them with all the necessary school and living materials needed to create an environment in which they were able to safely continue through their last year of primary education. These students lived at the new ROA site until March when they took their final national exams. We are so pleased to share another Primary 7 class has passed the PLE and all students are eligible to join Secondary School in the coming year. We are incredibly proud of the dedication and bravery it took on the part of both the students and staff to get these graduates where they are today!


With the secondary COVID lockdown beginning in June, due to increased transmissions of COVID-19, students have been forced to once again stay home. We continue to work with our Ugandan team to do what we can for the students and their families during this difficult time and to push forward towards a hopeful reopening in January, accorinding to the most recent government press release.

The last thing I want to share with you is a change in the way we reserve funding for continued support of ROA and overhead costs of H4U. With our sights set on how to provide continuous and stable financial support to ROA, despite the ever-changing times, we have initiated a 20% reserve of each donation. This percentage is then broken down to 10% saved directly into a fund entirely for ROA and the remaining 10% is used for the overhead costs of H4U. While we are a volunteer-based organization, the 10% overhead holdback helps us with day to day operations, such as software, mailings, and wire transfer fees, along with other services necessary to maintain the organization. 

It is my hope and prayer that you can truly see the difference you have made in the lives of the students, teachers, and faculty at ROA - especially throughout this past year. Thank you for your continued dedication to them and allowing us the opportunity to serve in the best way possible. 

Ariane Shaver 
Board Chair

We are so excited to be partnering with the Fly Fishing Collaborative (FFC) to bring an aquaponics farm to ROA!

Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (soil-less agriculture). This project, which we lovingly call the “Fish Farm” will not only provide a major learning opportunity for students, but will lay the groundwork for additional sustainability for ROA.

The fish and vegetables produced from this aquaponics system will be used to support students and families of ROA as well as sold in local markets to generate additional income for ROA. All supplies for this project will be purchased in Uganda. FFC volunteers will be traveling to Mbiko to help ROA oversee the build, which is tentatively planned for spring 2022! This Fish Farm is a major opportunity for ROA and we are thrilled to see this project come to fruition! 

The photo above was taken of the Wasswa family during a tour of a nearby aquaponics operation!

If you would like to donate towards the ROA Fish Farm, you can do so below.

For more information on the FFC and aquaponics check out their website

We are so excited to announce the newest addition to the Rock of Ages Community School campus!

The Multipurpose Building is comprised of 3 floors. The first will host the campus kitchen as well as a dining area that may also be used for school events/functions.

The second floor will host all nursery students (children in Pre-K 3 through 5). Previously, nursery classrooms were all located in the main school building. However, with COVID social distancing requirements all classrooms within this building will be required for students in Primary 1 through Primary 7. While all new COVID regulations for Ugandan schools have not yet been released it is our hope that by relocating our youngest students to this new area, Primary students will have the space they need to get back on track with their learning following this turbulent year.

The third and final floor of the Multipurpose Building will be a convertible space, depending on the needs of the school. Currently we anticipate the third floor will act as a dormitory space for the older students as we move forward into unknown territory following the COVID school closures and re-openings. Once dormitories are no longer needed the third floor can be easily converted into office/workspace for administrators and teachers as well as an official library space for all students to enjoy!

The permits for this build have been secured and the estimations for the first floor are complete. We anticipate the completion of the foundation and first floor (aside from plumbing and painting needs) will cost an estimated $118,000. If you would like to donate towards the building of the multipurpose building please follow this link.

Hi members,

Our Primary five and six students had a small garden at school before the second lockdown (effective June 7). They had planted kale, onions and tomatoes using old sacks and buckets unfortunately schools were closed before the harvest.

We contacted the students to come and pick them up and take to their families to supplement their home meals.

As a school we have been encouraging students to have small back yard gardens at home so they may help their parents to save some money from buying vegetables, greens and fruits.

We are so grateful to all the donors/sponsors for their support. Thank you.

Betty Wasswa
Founder and Director
Rock of Ages Community School

For more photos check out our Facebook page and don't forget to give us a "follow" for more updates and photos!

Hello Members,

Merry  Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thank you for sticking with us all this time. A lot has happened since the year began, good and bad, but still we appreciate all your resources invested in H4U. Especially your time. Thanks to all for organizing the Angel Tree Drive; it was amazing and made a difference!

This year our gratitude has gone ever deeper. Especially during Covid -19 when we had no hope, but with your generosity you made ROA a better place in Mbiko. Because of you, we managed to pay all the school expenses and tuition for High School students and others who have returned to campus. Thank God for all the provisions!

All schools had a break for Christmas and New Year Holidays on December 18 and are resuming January 18, 2021 after our presidential elections on January 14th. Please pray for a peaceful election- a lot is happening.
Once again I truly appreciate all your support during 2020 and can't wait for what God has in store for us.


Betty Wasswa
Founder and Director
Rock of Ages Community Scool

As of October 16 all Primary 7 and Senior 4 student have returned to school under the Ugandan governments guidance and recommendations. We are still waiting more information concerning the Senior 4 students but do know that all who were enrolled prior to school closures due to COVID-19 have reported in order to return to their studies.

ROA teachers and staff have spent a considerable amount of time preparing the school for re-opening in accordance with the COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). These included guidelines surrounding social distancing and the availability of handing washing facilities as well as other precautions. Prior to reopening  ROA received a compliance certificate from the health and education officials.

Typically, students in the 7th grade spend the entire year preparing for the Primary Leaving Exam (PLE). This is a high stakes test with the outcome determining which secondary programs the students might be able to apply to. As school has been out since March preparation time for the PLE has been significantly decreased. Therefore ROA will operate as a boarding school for these students allowing for extra study time. Boarding the Primary 7 students will also help prevent the spread of coronavirus as students will remain at school full-time. Visitors, including parents, will not be allowed per the government mandate.

Preparing to board the 7th graders presented many challenges. In addition to ensuring more hand-washing facilities, masks, sanitizer, and thermometers for daily use, providing enough beds for the 30 students and the additional staff who must act as caretakers was quite a change. ROA has now converted 5 of 14 classrooms into dormitories for the P7 students and thanks to your support has been able to provide beds for each student.

Boarding for the P7 students will continue through March 2021 when they will sit for their PLE. We ask for your continued prayers for the health and safety of the ROA staff and students and for all the sponsors and donors who, like yourself, have made the distribution of food and the availability of medical support possible for all the students of ROA during this difficult time. And finally, we ask for your prayers for the P7 and S4 students who have returned to school for the first time since March, who are under extreme pressure to study for their exams and who will be away from family (perhaps for the first time for some of the P7 students) as they are boarded at ROA and their respective schools.

Some may remember posts from earlier in the year concerning finishing touches on the new Rock of Ages Community School.

Our focus was on completing the exterior of the school. When COVID-19 hit this project was put on hold as the country underwent lockdown.

We are pleased to announce that with the partial lifting of the COVID-19 lockdown in Uganda, work on the building has resumed! In order to prepare the outermost layer of the exterior, all of the walls had to be sanded. Once this was complete a primer (pictured here) was used to cover the walls. Next up is the exterior paint and we cannot wait to share the results!

Christmas in...September? Why not?!

This month students receiving supplemental food took home a full chicken! Chicken (meat in general) is rather expensive for most ROA families. Usually reserved for special holidays such as Christmas or Easter, it is a special meal.

Uganda remains in pretty restrictive lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To boost moral, ROA faculty decided that providing chicken with this months supplemental food would be a an exciting treat!

Thank you for making this possible for these students and their families! If you sponsor a child and would like to learn more about providing them and their families with supplemental food reach out to our sponsorship coordinator, Tamera here: tamera@hands4uganda.org

The leaves are slowly changing color here in the US. There is a crispness in the air that signals a time when children are typically awaiting their class list and anticipating who their teacher will be for the next school term.  But as the entire world continues to battle COVID-19 and its widespread impact, the beginning of this school year looks quite different from any before. 

The impact of COVID-19 on children everywhere has been significant and in Uganda the situation is quite severe. School closures around the world have forced educators to create innovative means of teaching through videoconferencing and other online venues. Even in Africa, lessons are being provided on television or over the radio. But in the small, poverty-stricken village of Mbiko - the home to Rock of Ages Community School (ROA) - where electricity is scarce and internet is even more of a rarity, distant learning is next to impossible.

The students of ROA face increased vulnerability, including malnutrition, abuse, and exploitation. In a village known for prostitution, there is a fear of increased pregnancies among the female students similarly to what happened to many young girls in the countries affected by the Ebola crisis. All of this makes the commitment of Hands4Uganda (H4U) to help maintain the safety and well-being of the students of ROA more important than ever.

At a time when food prices have increased, many children are not getting the necessary nutrients for healthy growth. Through your dedicated support H4U and ROA have partnered to ensure food packets continue to be delivered to the students and staff as frequently as possible.

Many students rely on regular medications for illnesses such as asthma. With malaria season quickly approaching, medical attention could be the difference between life and death of a child or their primary caretaker. Again, thanks to your continued giving, all students and their families continue to have access to regular healthcare through the nearby clinic.

The shutdown has seen teachers around the world leave their positions, worsening an already significant teacher shortage. The outstanding staff, both teacher and administrators, at ROA have created a name for the school and the education it offers. Thanks to the many sponsors and donors through H4U the staff has continued to be paid during this shutdown, providing valuable assistance in coordinating the distribution of food packets, medical visits to the clinic, and maintenance of the school and the crops that are planted on the school’s property. To date, ROA has been able to maintain its entire staff.

We thank you for your continued support and ask that you join us in praying that all 300+ students who reported to school in February 2020 return again when schools are allowed to reopen.

First came the foundation then the framing and finally the brick was laid and finished with plaster. If you’ve been following our construction progress you’ve seen the smiling faces of the students as they started school in the new Rock of Ages (ROA) facility in February. Though the students were sent home shortly after the beginning of the term due to Covid, there are hopes they will return as early as September. Before school resumes, however, Hands4Uganda (H4U) hopes to enable the finishing touches to the primary facility including painting, plumbing, and slope stabilization.

Painting the exterior of the building is an important final step in securing the building from weather damage. With the rainy season quickly approaching, rain and wind will take its toll on the building if it is not properly sealed with a protective layer of paint.

Suggested color scheme for the Primary Building

“So much has gone into the construction of this beautiful building but most recently we have been focused on the protection of our students and staff during this difficult time of Covid. We are now hoping to paint the building before the rainy season comes and the students return to school”, stated Abdu Wasswa, ROA Program Facilitator.

A new nontoxic anti-mosquito paint has been proven to not only protect exteriors from the elements, but paralyzes mosquitoes on contact. This innovative paint could protect ROA students and staff even further from the wide-spread disease of malaria. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could protect both the building the students with a simple coat of paint?

When the school opened its doors in February the second-floor plumbing was not yet complete and H4U would like nothing more than to bring the students back to school with sufficient plumbing. Access to running water and flushing toilets on both the ground and upper floor will further ensure proper hand washing - a hygiene practice that is more important now than ever as all work to halt the spread of COVID-19. 

And finally, because so much of H4U’s efforts have been on the protection of the students and staff through food distribution and medical assistance over the past several months, efforts to raise funds to begin construction of the new kitchen/dining/community center are on hold. As a result student meals will continue to be prepared in a small shanty moved from the former ROA location. This temporary kitchen was placed on a slope next to the new school and includes a cement slab, called a soak pit, that holds water runoff from the kitchen. However, with the rainy season quickly approaching, the slope that the students must walk up to receive their food will need to be stabilized to prevent erosion around the kitchen area and to maintain the integrity of the soak pit.

Please consider contributing to the paint, plumbing or slope stabilization and help put the finishing touches on the new facility before the students return to school.

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