What is HUGS?

HUGS is a registered charity (1098176, Charity Unique Code QAQ87ZG) which stands for Helping Uganda Schools. It began in 1995 when a group of friends in Stockport decided to see if they could raise enough funding to put 15 Ugandan orphans through school.

By 1997 that group of friends had multiplied in number and the idea grew, with the aim being to help build a school in a rural area, about four hours from the Ugandan capital of Kampala.

Four years later that school – St Zoe’s Day and Boarding Primary – opened and it has since gone from strength to strength. Today it helps educate more than 450 children, delivering some of the best exam results in the region.

HUGS and Sport

HUGS trustee Matt Houghton has seen at first hand the enthusiasm and ability Ugandan children have for sport, and he has played a key part in the successful scheme in which UK youngsters donate football kits to be taken to Uganda.

He said: “The pupils at three of HUG’s schools have been presented with football shirts from football teams in England by the primary schools in Merseyside and Cheshire. This part of the project gives the pupils encouragement and aspiration that one day they could play football in England.

“For many children in Uganda taking part in sport is difficult because they do not have the correct equipment or they cannot be spared from the family chores. Also, the schools do not have the land for sport such as football and this means the children play sport in their neighbourhoods with minimal resources.”


St Zoe’s, Mbende, Uganda

Thanks to HUGS, St Zoe’s now has football, netball, basketball, badminton and athletics equipment. There are so few pupils who have trainers or football boots. On the last trip HUGS took some boots for the football team. As some of the boots were too small for the boys they were passed on to the girls’ football team, which made them, feel very special.

Going forward, St Zoe’s has the potential to produce talented sportsmen and women who can be used as positive role models for other pupils at the school.

Good Shepherd School, Fort Potal, Uganda

The Good Shepherd School, with HUGS’ help, is now becoming a centre for sports in its area. In autumn 2014 the school organised a series of athletics events for the first time, including javelin, marathon, high jump, long jump and hurdles.

Good Shepherd’s sports development officer said: “I was really happy when I received support from you.The winner in the high jump jumped over 2m high which was in the records of the school. Winning teams were awarded trophies and participants were given gifts and awarded certificates of participation.”

The school then went on to organise an inter-school competition between themselves and two others, Shalom Junior and Ahamed schools. Categories were the 100m, 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay. Good Shepherd won in both the relays with Shalom Junior triumphing in the 100m.

St Theresa Primary, Kibungo, Rwanda

St Theresa’s are currently able to offer five sports to their pupils: football, handball, volleyball, netball and athletics. They have two sports teachers and two, which support them, and are determined to engender a love of sports among their pupils with regular events and inter-school competitions. They are keen to explain the importance of sport to the whole school and encourage all teachers to incorporate sport into their classes.

In a recent inter-school event, St Theresa’s beat three other schools at football and became second in the district at athletics. Sports teacher Jean-Marie Vianney said: “Pupils got excited because they were not expecting to defeat these schools, the matches were held during a period of exams and holidays and so they had not had enough practice. They were very happy.”


HUGS trustee Peter Mount said: “ It is very rewarding to see the children doing well at school and to see so many whom we supported over the last 20 years are now in university or further education or have good jobs.

“The Ugandan youngsters are fanatical about sport, as fanatical as UK youngsters, perhaps even more so. Football is the big thing. Growing children really need the value that sport can give. It creates healthy competition and is a great safety valve too.”

HUGS trustee Joanna Bircher said: “It feels great to be able to make such a difference to the lives and futures of these children. I feel particularly proud of the community involvement in the building of the schools – people offer their services for free for the good of the whole community. I am also proud of being able to financially support such an enthusiastic bunch of local leaders who can ‘make things happen’ providing they have the right resources.

“Sport? It was a game of football that brought the youngsters from different countries together when children, including my own, who were visiting from the UK. Football certainly seemed to be an ‘international language’ that all understood.”

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