Kampala; Over 40 Standard Chartered Bank Staff volunteered to conduct a community initiative at the Salaama school for the blind located at Kisoga – Mukono where they painted and renovated a classroom block and planted 300 fruit and indigenous trees as a way of preserving the environment and catering for the nutrition needs of the students over the long term.
The Bank employees were received by the Headmaster Mr. Francis Kinubi who is also the founder of the school and has led the school for the last 23 years and the 72 students who are visually impaired with various disabilities.
The staff also took off time to socialize, play with and learn from the children by playing various games of visually impaired persons with them, watching demonstrations of how they read and write using braille machines and other special needs equipment and shared a meal with them.
While speaking at the volunteering event, Mrs. Margaret Kigozi the Acting Head, Corporate Affairs, Brand and Marketing at Standard Chartered Bank said;
“One of our strategic pillars as Standard Chartered Bank is “Accelerating zero” where we have committed to help communities in our footprint to reduce carbon emissions as fast as possible, without slowing development and putting the world on a sustainable path to net zero by 2050. So, in nutshell this is also about promoting renewable energy and ensuring that we preserve the environment in which we operate. Therefore, we have planted 300 trees as Salaama School for the Blind which sits on over 23 acres of land so they can better utilize the land as a key resource to enable them cater to the needs of the children who mostly come from impoverished families and can’t afford the tuition or the school necessities.
Mrs. Kigozi also added; “Even if most of us still depend on charcoal to cook our meals, we need to continuously take the initiative to plant at least 2 trees for every tree that we cut down so we protect our environment. Today we are not only planting trees with the children of Salaama School for the Blind but also cascading a message to them that it’s important for all of us to preserve our environment and transform mindsets one person at a time.”
On his part, Moses Rutahigwa the Head of Consumer, Private and Business Banking at Standard Chartered Bank said;
“We are delighted to volunteer at Salaama School for the blind today to demonstrate that we are not detached from the community in which we have operated and thrived for over 109 years but that we are indeed part of it and deeply care about it. We are therefore happy to connect and be part of the people whom we serve every single day as customers, to be able to help communities such as Salaama School for the blind, interact with disadvantaged children, hear the dreams of these young people and inspire them to pursue their dreams. Our effort to repair and renovate one of their buildings will go along way in providing a decent environment for the students to study in.
The Manager, Sustainability at Standard Chartered Bank Mr. Deus Turyatemba while speaking to the participants stated;
As a visually person myself, I am very inspired by the fact that my colleagues at Standard chartered Bank where I have worked for over 15 years now were able to interact with the visually impaired children. They have taken off time to learn a number of things from this special community which enables them to appreciate the challenges that the children face which opens up their minds.
This new acquired knowledge the Bank staff have received will enable them to be more empathetic, ambassadors and champions towards causes for disadvantaged persons as disability is not inability. If these children are supported, they have the potential to be productive members of society and are capable of so many things and I am a living example of this.”
While addressing the Bank staff, the Headmaster of Salaama School for the Blind Mr. Francis Kinubi said;
“Standard Chartered Bank has been a great partner and supporter of Salaama school for the blind for over a decade and have done so many things to support us including making renovations and donations of computers, braille machines, providing scholastic materials for visually impaired persons, donating white canes to ease navigation or movement of the blind children and guarantee their independence as well as skilling and training the children. I wish to express our sincere gratitude to Standard Chartered Bank Uganda for this current drive to once again support us. As a UPE school, Government supports us, however, our needs are many since most of the visually impaired children are brought to us from the community and most of their parents aren’t able to meet their expenses. Despite this, we never turn away any child so we depend on charity organisations and donors to sponsor them and to cater for the various needs of all the children. We appeal to more donors to assist us renovate the dilapidated school buildings, donate double decker beds so our children do not sleep down or to help us fence off our land and protect it from squatters.”
Earlier this month, Standard Chartered Bank made a donation of One billion and fifty-six million Uganda shillings (Ugx 1,056,000,000) to their implementing partner – Voluntary Service Overseas at an event that was officiated by the Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs – Hon. Sarah Mateke Nyirabashitsi. The funds are earmarked to strengthen the capacity of young people, especially girls and people with disabilities, through provision of employability skills, entrepreneurship and improving their chances of getting jobs and empower youth to start up their own businesses. The Bank is committed to work alongside Government and other stakeholders and is therefore undertaking several community projects in Northern Uganda and in Kampala and Wakiso districts to support Youth in agribusiness and youth entrepreneurs through the “Youth to work” programme among others.