After the tragic loss of their 16-year-old daughter, Roger and Jan Varney went to Bangladesh to volunteer in the only spinal hospital in the country. Jan worked alongside the nurses to train them in wound assessment and bladder and bowel management. Roger had management experience which was very beneficial for this hospital. In total they have been visiting Bangladesh for over 30 years and have raised funds to improve the hospital. It was 3 years ago that the operating theatre was refurbished through their fund raising with help from the local Rotary club and Rotary international. It was when working in Bangladesh that Jan and Roger met Mary Ann an Occupational therapist from UK who was also volunteering at the hospital.
After leaving Bangladesh Mary Ann then went to work in Uganda, and she invited Jan and Roger to visit her there. Mary Ann worked for Skills share international posted to the Ministry of health, she was a professional mentor partner working alongside Kennedy as the OT of the Kitega Centre. Kennedy was one of the earlier students to graduate from the OT school in Mulago.
Jan and Roger accepted the invitation from Mary Ann came to Uganda in 2004 and together with Mary Anne visited Kitega Centre.
Kitega centre was housed under the famous mango tree at Kawolo Primary school children with learning disabilities also attended the centre and had the opportunity to interact with the wider school.
Roger and Jan noticed that the children with disabilities were hungry, often going to sleep in lessons as they had no food prior to coming to the centre and there was no provision for food .at the centre.
This is when they got the idea to setup Project Porridge, to help provide a meal for the children with disabilities and the wider school.
From 2004 – 2016, Roger and Jan held several events that helped raise funds to provide for project porridge.
With support from friends around the world the Kitega Centre has continued helping to provide porridge at break time and a meal at lunch time to children with disabilities attending the centre.
Also currently supporting over 400 pupils with a meal as they attend school.
For many children this was the only opportunity to have a meal, this encourages pupils to attend school and promotes healthy learning due to improved nutrition through this provision.