Covid-19 Grant – Niteo Partners Update

Through Karine’s leadership, Niteo has partnered with some incredible organizations, but more importantly, people.  They remain committed to their communities and they hold the torch for literacy amidst great challenges as the pandemic continues. 

To the best of their ability, our partners in Uganda have ensured education and literacy endures during the pandemic. Although the last couple of months have had the added stress of the election and its uncertainty.  As far as I know, all of our partners and their families were safe through all the election violence, but unfortunately, Covid-19 has touched their local communities and families. We were able to get the covid relief funds to the 7 centers that are currently open and I have contact with through Whatsapp.  Here’s a small informal update on each of the centers from the information that I garnered through our Whatsapp conversations.

Grace and Peace,


Kampala: Nageeba
Nageeba and her six children have been doing literacy teaching sessions and supporting the education of the kids in the community. They made around 50 book bags and delivered them to families based on the age of kids – I think they rotate them every few weeks? Her older children also made lessons and had them photocopied and passed out. They also gave out masks to the community. 
Nageeba also received her additional building funds that we had committed to with the small scale grants earlier in 2020. She built a covered patio alongside her house to keep the rain out of the window into their living space. She also brought a small container to her home – her book kiosk – that she’d had elsewhere but hadn’t had access to for a number of years. It needs a new roof and sorting of all the old materials left inside, but soon she’ll be able to store her books in there and out of her living room!


Jinja: Peter and David (Grassroots Uganda)

These partners are flying! Peter and David each used their covid funds to do sanitation work in Jinja. Peter supplied sandals to many of the children at their center and a wash station. 3e009e73-a445-4efd-a82a-2d09cae3f9d9.JPG


Here is David’s detailed report – my educator’s heart was so full to see how they put the children in charge of making decisions of where the money should be spent. 
“Grassroots Uganda community library Danida is shared by over 250 children from Soweto, Walukuba, Kikaramoja and Masese slum areas in Jinja city.   One of the biggest problems affecting the people in these areas is poor sanitation and hygiene that has resulted in diseases and deaths.
It’s upon this background that the children carried out the cleaning project to cause awareness and sensitise the community about the dangers of dirty compounds, improper disposal of children’s stool and not slashing their compounds.
A day prior to the activity day,the children held a debate and came up with problem solving tree to combat the most pressing issue within the community,i put the children at the forefront to spearhead a transformation and positive change,thus creating in them a sense of responsibility, feeling the comfort of what they can for the community,and above i wanted them to own the project.


  • Over 200 children and youths were involved in this community cleaning project.
  • 16 homesteads were cleaned during this exercise.
  • The day after the cleaning exercise I received over 50 newcomers in the library after the interaction with the children during the exercise.
  • 20 homesteads of the vulnerable elderly and child headed families were reached for soap,sugar and toothbrush distribution.


  • To address the UN sustainable development goals such as good health and wellbeing,inclusive quality education,gender equality and clean water and sanitation.
  • To provide a little support to the most vulnerable families especially the elderly and the child headed families ie soap,sugar and toothbrush distribution.
  • To promote cleanliness,good sanitation and personal hygiene.
  • To promote the benefits of having a community library within the community.”

Mukono – Tina/Mariam (Grassroots Uganda)

We don’t have direct contact with Tina in Mukono because she doesn’t have a phone that can use Whatsapp, but Mariam – who oversees much of Grassroots Uganda’s work now – received the funds for Tina. The funds were used to create a handwashing station, soap, and masks. An added bonus of messaging with Mariam was a beautiful update that on that day she just happened to be taking books from the container out to a new library she’d created in Nateete. Look at her car! Love it. 


Hope North: Okello Sam

I have the least on-going communication with Okello Sam, a very busy man, so I will reach out to him for an update on how things are going now. The last update was from November: 
“Hope North and the staff have done the best they can in these times — equipping a portion of the students with laptops, and asking them to share among those who live near each other (students were off campus for 5 months); sending curricular materials via WhatsApp to the few students with access to smartphones, who then share with peers in near-by areas, topping up students’ data so they can use these digital resources. These efforts are mostly unpaid; what few resources Hope North has right now are allocated toward technology and data to the dispersed students; and some small amounts toward their upkeep in their respective locations.  Teachers have gone unpaid for more than three months.
Despite this — the senior level students are preparing to sit for exams — even though the Government has provided NO SUPPORT to schools or teachers at this time, and when giving exams itself costs money.  These students are fiercely committed to achieving more for themselves.” 

I call it redemption. It is more than books. It is dignity.

This Place is So Good

by: Karine Veldhoen

It’s called Abuga Road. It is a redemption story.

In 2014 two Canadian teenagers and I attended the grand opening of the Niteo Africa literacy centre in Gulu, Uganda. The centre is on Abuga Road, not far from Lacor Hospital. Our story is in the contrast. It sits in the darkness and light; it is found in the clearing of the dust. Allow me

Our exploratory visit in 2013 enchanted us with the pine and mango tree nobly standing next to one another, like Canadian and African partners.

The land sparkled in the sunlight and was sweetened with the fruit! In this place, we could see the ultimate vision of mother and child expanding and growing together, through literacy and learning. The trees whispered their hope to house.

At first, it was about the books. Shorestone Homes made an exceptional and quiet grant to Niteo and our partner, Hope North, with Okello Kelo Sam. The centre opened its doors. The Local Council leaders attended with thanks and the teachers and children were present.

We even found caretaker Sam with a guitar and the celebration was rich!


But, today, on July 11, 2017, we formally interviewed caretakers Sam and Florence, of the Gulu Literacy Centre. The University of British Columbia is partnering with us in a formal program evaluation. It was a standard question. I innocently asked,

What is the impact of this library

I thought it was about books, education, literacy. I thought we would discuss academic progress and student visitors. Instead

They told us a haunting story.

Before the centre, Abuga road had violence. Killing was still in the air from the Kony terror. Northern Uganda tasted blood. And, this road, Abuga Road, wasn’t a neighbourhood, it was a danger zone.

Florence translates, Sama’s words,

Those days when this library was not there, people were not here at all. So those days, nobody was here. Yeah, this place was very bad. They kill people. They do what

So they were wondering how we were staying here after today? Why are they not coming to steal us?

So now people are very happy with us, because we have brought them here. Now all these bodies [people] that you are seeing, they’ve just come out [because] of the library.

Because they used to fear this place so, so, so much!

They always ask me, How do you stay there I say, That place is safe and I will sleep peaceful at night I’ve already stayed here now for three good years and I’ve not had anything.a�?

Even the area’s Local Councils are now thanking us because the owners of the lands here now they’ve gotten encouraged because from us. So now they are selling the land to the people.a

It’s like this whole neighbourhood has become good?! A community is blossoming.

Friends of Niteo, most days, I think that we send books to African children.

But, today, I got a glimpse of something greater.

What happens when you give the gift of dignity? What happens when you create something beautiful and available? What changes when your heart powerfully believes in people? What happens when you walk straight into the lions den and a miracle happens: the lions are silenced?

I call it redemption. It is more than books. It is dignity.

Our work in Uganda has just begun. We know that it is making an impact and in fact, saving precious lives through peace.

If you feel inspired please DONATE to Niteo Africa Society and help us reach more deserving communities.

These days they’ve learned that this place is so good for their children.