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Posted on May 11, 2015

Calico volunteers successfully complete Ugandan school renovation project

Five dedicated Calico employees have successfully completed a project to help renovate a derelict school building in a Ugandan village, helping to improve the long term prospects of thousands of children in the area.

Through the One Brick at a Time scheme, the group – Ben Walmsley, ICT Project Support Officer; Susan Brazendale, Information, Advice and Guidance Officer for Calico Careers; and CITB apprentices Johnny Hartley, George Birbeck and Ted Mossop – joined Speakman Contractor apprentice Brandon Coppock, as they travelled to the Rwenzori region of Uganda for three weeks to help improve and renovate the local Butiiti Centenary Secondary School.

The school, which had fallen into major disrepair and was being used as a cowshed, was almost completely rebuilt, with works finished ahead of schedule

The building was officially reopened following the team’s efforts with a special ribbon cutting ceremony.

The volunteers also had the opportunity to take classes at one of the local schools, where they taught students to make loom band bracelets, which they could keep for themselves, give away, or sell to others.

As a final gesture of goodwill, the group provided the students with stationery from Office Depot, and exercise books kindly donated by Accrington printing company Direct-Ed.

Before they flew out, as part of their commitment to contribute towards building and refurbishment costs, the group also took part in a range of fundraising activities, including raffles, bike rides, an eight-mile walk, and a sponsored head shaved – in total, they raised over £14,955 for the cause.

Susan Brazendale said:

“The whole experience of raising money, and then having the opportunity to travel to Uganda to help renovate the Butiiti Centenary Secondary School, has been brilliant.

“The six of us have all learned so much, from promoting One Brick at a Time and raising money on our various projects, to learning how to hand mix cement, plaster walls and develop a rainwater harvesting system.

“Not only have we learnt so much, but we have also trained the local trainees on how to brick lay, put in window frames, which were then painted, and roller painting the walls. The trainees wouldn’t have had this opportunity, had it not been for the money we raised for One Brick at a Time.

“To be able to hand over the completed school to the Parish Priest and Sister who run the school was a moving and exhilarating experience. The 87 students will benefit from this in many ways – just putting in a concrete floor will save lives by helping to prevent insects crawling into children’s feet.

“On behalf of all six of us, I would like to say thank you for the fantastic opportunity we have all been given.”

One Brick at a Time is a charitable organisation based in Uganda, with partners in the UK, which provides skills exchanges between the developed and developing worlds, helping to address issues of poverty and education attainment.

For more information, visit

Rebuilding the Butiiti Centenary Secondary School

The school had fallen into serious despair over the years – the building had no floor, windows or plaster on the walls, and was being used as a shelter for cows. The roof had also been damaged almost irreparably by lightning and a fallen tree.
Working alongside local residents, the team from Calico carried out a range of works to help bring the school back to the highest possible standards:
  • The group replaced the rotted wooden window frames with new metal ones, and installed brand new windows.
  • They installed water tanks as part of the local water harvesting scheme – when rain goes into the gutter, it is stored in the tanks, and the supply is then shared between the school and the local village.
  • The main office in the building was split in two, providing both a staff room and a headmaster’s office, with lockable cupboards to store important exam papers.
  • Ramps have been provided for the first time to allow for wheelchair access, and a large tree has been removed to ensure it doesn’t fall on the school
  • The team also replaced the roof, creosoted the rafters, and plastered the walls throughout the building, both inside and out.
 Families, friends and colleagues were kept informed thanks to regular updates on the ‘OBAAT Project’ Facebook page.
 The group also made the most of their free time, going out on safari and boat trips to make acquaintances with the local wildlife, including lions, elephants and hippos.
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