Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Educational Sewing in Canada’s Capital

Guest post by Aynsley Morris

When Karen and Monica started the Nzirambi Education Fund, I jumped at the chance to help. Not only is it a great cause, I love to sew and had some beautiful fabrics I’d picked up on my travels that needed to be put to good use.  For a few years I’d been experimenting with sewing bags for yoga mats and making baby quilts for nieces, nephews and my friends’ new arrivals.  My sewing could be my way to help. I sold some bags and offered a quilt and other items for the Fund’s silent auction. 

This year there are six youth pursuing higher levels of schooling, including Veronica, the initial inspiration for the Fund.  Next year, eight children are expected to need our support; this will take considerably more funding.

Karen challenged a bunch of us involved with the Fund to increase our efforts so I’m heading out to a few of Ottawa’s craft fairs to sell bags, eye pillows and quilts. My first show is the Suburban Craft Show (@suburbancraft) at Centrepoint in Nepean on November 17th from 10am to 3pm. The organizers are doing a great job promoting it and I’m honoured to be in the company of other exhibitors like VersaTile and Sassy Scarves

Some great pals will be helping me on November 24th at the McNabb Community Centre at 180 Percy Ave. (Bronson and Gladstone) from 10am to 4pm. My sister and nephew are helping at the last show for the season as part of the Perth House Tour on December 1st and 2nd. Artisans will be set up at the Perth Best Western Plus Parkside Inn and Spa with free tea and cookies.

If you’re in the Ottawa area, please come out to support the Nzirambi Education Fund and amazing Ottawa (and Perth) artists at some of these events and pass the info along to all your friends!

Bags to carry your yoga mat!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fundraising Goals: Dreams of Attending University

Dreams of attending university

When she was just a year old Veronica Nabasinga was brought to the Nzirambi Orphans Talent Development Centre in western Uganda. Her mother had just died of AIDS. Her father was unable to care for Veronica -- his youngest child, his only daughter. The orphanage took her in.
At the orphanage, Veronica has thrived.  She has grown into an ambitious young woman, committed to her studies. In 2011, Veronica was accepted to law school at the University of Kampala becoming the first of 100 children at the orphanage to be accepted to university. However, there was no funding available for her to attend.

Inspired by Veronica, the Nzirambi Education Fund was established to help ensure that not only Veronica, but the 100 children of the orphanage will have opportunities to attend university, college or senior levels of high school.

Higher levels of education are especially critical for these children, giving them additional resources to become leaders in their communities and break free of the cycle of poverty that has defined their families.

We need your support

Over the next three years (2013-2016), the Nzirambi Education Fund aims to raise $50,000 -- enough funds to see six youth through university, two through a vocational training program, one through college and another through senior levels of high school. Already, our fund has supported Veronica in university, four students through senior levels of high school and one in college.

Your support to the Nzirambi Education Fund is critical in helping these children so that they may be the next generation of smart, productive and well-educated Ugandans contributing to the future of their country.

For more information, you can connect with the Nzirambi Education Fund on Facebook at, follow the blog or email

** In this photo:   Veronica shown here with Baby Steven. Steven was found abandoned in a garbage dump on Boxing Day in 2010. Veronica, now 18, has lived in the orphanage since she was just one-year-old. The Nzirambi Education Fund helps these children go to school

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Photos from Uganda

Monica was in Uganda over the summer and got to visit the girls we are supporting in secondary school at their schools. Here are some photos from her visit:

 This is Patricia.
 This is Pelucy
Pelucy and Ellen


Monica and Patricia

Monica and Ellen

Monica and Priscilla

All of our girls in boarding school!

Sadly, these are two newborn twins that came to the orphanage, but passed away a few weeks later. The babies were sickly and in hospital. 

The orphanage matriarch and founder, Monica's aunt Dorothy.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Nzirambi Holiday Raffle

Want to win cool raffle prizes? Check it out! We've got five prizes up for grabs - including an ipad2! Each prize package is worth more than $500. And you get to decide which prize packages you want to enter your tickets into. Just let us know how many tickets you want and which prize packs you want to enter.

Prize Pack #1, For the Ladies, value $600:

Tula Yoga Central
Robert Ashley Hair
Hair care package
Ugandan necklace and scarf
Ladies clutch
Women's Nike golf shirts
Jewellery by Grace & Angeline
Danier Leather gift cards
Kleen Kanteen
Meditative Arts Drumming for 2

Prize Pack #2, Toronto Foodie Package, value $650+

Bloom Restaurant
Embrujo Flamenco
Le Dolci Cupcakes
Ceili's Cottage
Frida Spanish Restaurant
5th Elementt
23 Degrees Roastery

Prize Pack #3, Gifts for the Family, value $650+

Evoke Hair Salon
Toronto Yoga Mamas
Marcel Dee Photography portraits
CG Monsters
Clay gift card
Kids Toys
Robert Rotenberg books
Me-To-We T-shirt
Eco gift pack, including: Therawise, Mini Organics, Wean Green, Strawsome Straws, People Towels, Quash

Prize Pack #4, Social Media business pack, value $525

3-hour social media business consulting with Third Ocean
Unmarketing's new Book of Business Awesome

Prize Pack #5, iPad2, value $700


Tickets are: 
  • $5 each
  • 5 tickets for $20
  • 15 tickets for $50

You can use paypal to purchase tickets on this blog.

The draw will be held on Dec. 1.

Good luck!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A day in the life

An update from Uganda:

This is an update on activities at NOTDEC in Uganda.

There are currently 99 children at NOTDEC. There were 101 children but sadly four month old twins, Jacqueline and Josephine, died at Kagando Hospital about three weeks ago. They developed suspected septicaemia.

The agreement between NOTDEC UK and NOTDEC Uganda has been that the Orphanage will stop accepting children when they reach 100 ch

ildren and that NOTDEC UK would find sponsors for 100 children. This is as many as the staff at NOTDEC Uganda can cope with and unfortunately a line has to be drawn somewhere.
When the twins were alive (and thus they had 101 children) they were turning babies away - some of whom they know have subsequently died.

However the Catholic diocese in the area has seen the need of care for further babies/children and are hoping to set up an orphanage or something similar in the area, but this looks as if it is going to be a little while before it actually happens.

The children at school

The final term of the academic year started this week and they will all have exams in November - even those in Primary One. If they fail the exam they will not be able to progress to the next class.

Important external exams are being sat by many of the children:
  • Eight children are sitting their primary school leaving exams (Ross, Kakuru, Chris, Rahabu, John, Rona, Keneth and Ester). They have all been boarding at Kagando Primary School this year and receiving extra teaching in the evenings in preparation for the exams.The boarding fees have been largely paid for by friends of NOTDEC in the USA.
  • Three young people are sitting the equivalent of GCSE's (Yoneki, Rhoda and Dan). They have been boarding at Kasese Secondary School. (These are the three our fund will be supporting in 2013)
  • Four young people are sitting the equivalent of A levels (Ellen, Patricia, Priscilla and Pelucy). These are the four our fund has been supporting in high school.
The schools want the children to board at these levels as most Ugandan children need to walk long distances to get to school and have no facilities to study at home (eg no electricity, no tables and a noisy environment).

Saturday, June 23, 2012

It Takes a Village...

Have you ever heard the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”? 

How true it is. In Uganda, the village does its part to help the boys and girls of the orphanage – everyone from the local matrons who started it more than 25 years ago, to the House Mothers who live there to support the children.

Here in Toronto, I was reminded of our own village that is helping to raise these children. It took real community spirit to pull the ‘Chocolate Affair’ fundraiser together – and I wanted to thank all of those who are now part of this ‘village.’

With your support, we raised $4000 during our night of all things chocolate. That’s enough to pay for two years of Veronica’s university tuition. Or enough to pay for six students to finish their final years of high school.

Your support truly does make a difference in the lives of the 101 boys and girls at the Nzirambi Orphanage in Uganda.

We never would have had this event if it wasn’t for these people who helped pull things together: Christine P (@wedding_crasher), Sandra B (@wallabina), Stella Z (@chocolachocola1) and Barb T (@barbturnbull).


 Thank you to our generous sponsors who made the night super sweet: ChocolaChocola (@chocolachocola1), Cocoa Latte (@cafecocoalatte), Le Dolci (@ledolci), Dragon’s Kitchen (@dragonskitchen), A Food Gypsy (@afoodgypsy), Steeped and Infused (@steepedandinfused), Cold Stone Creamery (@TOcoldstone).

And thank you to Caplansky for helping us bring some deli snacks to the party.

Thank you to these people who made generous donations that helped us with a successful and super fun raffle: The Chocolateria (@thechocolateria), The Body Shop, Nota Bene (@notabeneTO), ChocolaChocola, Grace and Angeline (@grancenangeline), Steve Roy at Solo Bace, Christine from Arbonne, Christine Cooper (@coopspeak), Iceberg Vodka, Live Food Bar (@livefoodbar), Starbucks (@starbuckscanada), SITAMAA (@SITAMAA), Clay (

A very special thank you to Aiden Fearn and his mom, Terrellyn, for their incredible donation. Aiden asked his friends to make a financial donation in lieu of birthday gifts, and he raised $400, making him the largest donor of the whole evening! Way to go, Aiden!

Thank you to Lindsay T and Andre for holding down the fort during the party. And thank you to Kateryna (@katerryna) for being a fine bartender.

Thank you Rob (@robsarj) for bringing us beats!

Thank you to Farhan Dhalla (@farhandhalla) ( for being a special guest and bringing us Angel Readings.

Thank you to TNY Photography for taking photos, which will be posted here:

Thank you to Stella for organizing party grab bags with donations from Chocolachocola, Blo, Goldwell and a CD by the lovely Fenulla. Thank you to Lawrence who helped get the kids’ stars ready so they could also be included in the grab bags.

What an incredible night! Thank you to everyone attended and making this night so special.

Our new friends at Cocoa Latte are already planning on a second Chocolate Affair....stay tuned!

(Please tell me if I’ve forgotten anyone – it’s a long list and highly possible! Don’t be shy!)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chocolate, anyone?

** This event is now sold out

The Nzirambi Education Fund invites you to join us Thursday, June 21st from 7p.m. - 10p.m., for a night of chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.

Think of it like chocolate heaven.

Our chocolate sponsors will spoil you rotten. We'll have everything from ice cream, cupcakes and gourmet goodies for you to sample. And, of course, we will be serving chocolate martinis! All in the name of a good cause!

Tickets to this choco-extraordinare evening are $50, with all proceeds going to help the boys and girls of the Nzirambi Orphanage in Uganda go to school.
Get ready to indulge! 

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit:

Join us on Facebook at

Special thank you to our incredible sponsors:

Le Dolci

Paula Costa from Dragon's Kitchen

The Chocolateria

Food Gypsy - Lisa Kates
Lisa Kate soup logo

Starbucks Coffee Company


Grace & Angeline

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Images from the orphanage

Late last year, we hosted a photo exhibition at Pikto Gallery in Toronto to raise funds for the boys and girls of the orphanage. Below are some of the images that were on display that night. Special thank you to Brian Pieters for putting so much time and expertise into capturing images of the children to share with all of you.

Please do click on our Facebook group to read the descriptions of each photo:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

One semester down

Over the last couple of weeks, the four young women we are supporting in secondary school completed their first semester and received their final grades. They all passed, but they didn’t do as well as they were hoping.

A few weeks ago, I received a package in the mail with letters from all of the girls telling me how their schooling is going. It’s been extremely tough: they wake up every morning at 4:30 a.m. to make it to class for 6 a.m. roll call. From then, they are in class and studying until 10p.m. at night with breaks in between for lunch and dinner. They retire to a dorm room with 50 other young women and get up and do it again.

It would be a rigorous schedule for anyone to get used to – but add to it that the students were fighting a wave of typhoid fever that spread through the school, as well as other individual illnesses some of them faced, including malaria and pneumonia.

Such is school life in Uganda. It’s not easy, that is for certain. The students get limited time for extra-curricular activities, although two of our students have managed to join a volley ball team and a choir group on Sundays.

The girls all passed their course, and I am proud of them for that. It was their first semester and their first time in a boarding school in the big city, Kampala. It would be a big adjustment for any 16- or 17-year-old. They are 100% committed to their studies and doing well – they are trying their hardest, and that is all we can ask for.

If they do not succeed, our team has agreed to fund one repeat year per student, but after that point, they will need to look for other options, such as vocational training. At a cost of more than $700/ year for tuition, it’s not feasible to keep failing and repeating.

Let’s all hope for a healthy and successful second semester for the students we are supporting!

Here are some photos taken last month at the orphanage while the students were home for their holidays.