Our Story

The Uphill Trust is a small Scottish charity founded in January 2015 to support the development of Uphill Junior School. Trust Chairman Niall ‘Max’ Macdonald got to know the founders of the school whilst rediscovering his roots in western Uganda.

Max visited the fledgling school in October 2013 and was inspired by the children he met there. He was also impressed by the vision of the School Director Elius and his struggle to develop an educational facility on a small plot of rented land with very little funding. He resolved to do ‘something’, thinking that he might be able to find enough money to provide corrugated iron sheets for the roofless classrooms…


Uphill Kindergarten

Muhimbise Elius, a trained teacher, founds a kindergarten school for 3-5 year olds in Iruhuura trading centre, western Uganda, to provide pre-school education for local children.

pre-school education at uphill 2011

Uphill Junior School

Parents and guardians are delighted with the quality of education and ask for a primary school – Uphill Junior School is born! Elius and his business partner start to put up a wooden school building on rented land, but soon run out of money. Where is Uphill Junior School?

uphill junior school in 2012

A fateful meeting

Niall ‘Max’ Macdonald travels to western Uganda to research his family history and meets Elius for the first time  (an arrest is involved…)  How it Began

Max goes to Uphill

Elius takes Max to see Uphill Junior School for the first time.  The impact of 90 Ugandan children singing for him was too much for Max – he was hooked and vowed to help in any way he could! How it Began.


A roof over their heads

Donations from the Macdonald family and Dollar Academy Charity Committee help to finish the school.  All the classrooms have a roof, brightly painted walls, and desks for all the children.

Uphill Junior School in 2014

The first water tank

Max tells everyone who will listen about Uganda and Uphill Junior School. Friends get involved and 1st Newport Brownies raise over £1,000 to buy a water tank for the school.

water for uphill 2014

Another visit to Uphill

Max takes his wife Belinda to Uganda for the first time and she is also hooked! When they get home, they establish The Uphill Trust to support Uphill Junior School. The family appoints trustees and draft a mission statement for The Uphill Trust.

Visit to Uphill 2014

First Trustee Visit

The Uphill Trust is awarded Scottish charity status on 29 January 2015 and a group of trustees make their first official visit to Uphill Junior School. It is clear that the school is going to need good quality classrooms on a permanent site, so land purchase becomes the first objective for the charity.

shared wooden classroom 2015

The Uphill Logo

Illustrator and Comic Artist Catriona Laird designs the Uphill logo whilst still a student. It features the red dirt road the trustees travel on whenever they visit the school. The logo is used, in different colour schemes, by both school and trust.

the red road to uphill

First plot of land

The Uphill Trust obtains funding to purchase land in Iruhuura (legacy donation plus small grant) and a local landowner agrees to sell one of her plots to Uphill Junior School. Max returns to Uganda in the summer with his son Shaun to the finalise the transaction. A new home for Uphill

first plot of land

First latrine block

After a busy year of fundraising, building begins on the new school site, starting with a ventilated improved pit latrine.

First Classroom Block

A second plot of land was purchased, adjacent to the first. Construction of the first permanent classroom block also began, funded by the Dollar Academy Sponsored Walk  (2015). The school site was secured and three primary classes moved onto the school site.

More water tanks

The only water supply in Iruhuura is a shallow well, so the trustees prioritise the provision of rain water harvesting systems for the school. In 2016 water tanks were installed next to the latrine and classroom blocks.

classroom water tank

All pupils together

The original wooden school building is dismantled and moved to the new site to create 7 temporary classrooms in 2 blocks – one for the lower primary classes, the other for kindergarten. A third plot of land expands the school site further.  All Uphill children are now on the same site.

temporary classrooms 2017

Uphill at Play

Fantastic fundraising from the Muddy Mayhem challenge and Crosfields School allowed the trustees to commission a tyre playground for kindergarten, along with sports equipment for the primary school. None of the children had seen a playground before, but they soon got the hang of it!

Official Site Plan

Ugandan schools need to have an official site plan as part of the licence and registration process. A site survey was commissioned, along with official plans for the school. The plans reflect the current school buildings along with a ‘wish list’ of other buildings. This becomes a guide for further school development.

Administration Block

Following a legacy donation from a family friend, the trustees commission an administration block for Uphill Junior School. The building contains a staff room, two offices and room for the new school nurse. It is painted orange – the donor’s favourite colour. A water harvesting system is installed.

Adminstration block

Power for education

Two more plots of land were offered to Uphill Junior School, both adjacent to the current site. One of them held an electricity pole, with the promise of power for the school buildings. Money was found and the land bought. In no time at all electricity was installed in the administration block, and later in the year in the classrooms.

Power for Education

Girls’ Latrine Block

A second latrine block, for girls, with private washroom and a sewage tank rather than a deep pit, was funded by the charity Meeting Needs. Water harvesting was added and a tap installed in the washroom.

latrine block for girls

More Primary Classrooms

A large donation from Dollar Academy Sponsored Walk (2017) plus fundraising from Kiltwalk events in 2018 and 2019 generated enough money to fund the two more classroom blocks for the primary section of Uphill Junior School. Water harvesting systems were installed and primary 1-4 moved out of their cramped wooden classrooms at last.

primary 1 and 3 block with water tanks 2019

First Five Years

How Uphill Junior School developed from 2015-19, with financial support from the Trust.

Official Opening Ceremony

The Uphill Build Team work flat out to get the two new classroom blocks plastered, painted, with ceilings and electricity installed, in time for official opening by the Kabarole District Chairperson and other local dignitaries. Uphill trustees were also there and Max led the official visitors on a guided tour of the school.

classroom opening ceremony

New Uniforms

In 2017 Crosfields School, a longstanding Uphill partner, donated a large amount of school uniform which was taken out to the school progressively in trustee suitcases. All the young girls received a  smart tartan dress – tartan kilts for the older girls are still at Uphill HQ, awaiting the next visit.

new uniform for uphill

COVID Food Relief

Uganda went into pandemic lockdown at the same time as the UK and all schools were closed for 7 months. Food poverty – always a problem – escalated. The Uphill Trust ran a successful fundraising campaign to support the Iruhuura community food aid initiative. COVID 19 Food Relief 1COVID 19 Food Relief 2

covid food releif

New Site for Kindergarten

COVID restrictions eased and the Uphill Build Team were back at work – installing additional security fencing around the extended school site, moving the wooden kindergarten classrooms, installing a stone floor and relocating the playground equipment. Kindergarten building used as a temporary boys’ dormitory when the school reopened to Primary 7 in October. Kindergarten on the Move!

new kindergarten site

Lessons in Lockdown

Uphill teachers reach out to pupils stuck at home. Government home schooling programmes required access to radio, TV and books – Uphill pupils had none of these resources so the teachers devised their own programme. Lessons in Lockdown.

lessons in lockdown

Uphill Piggery

Lockdown proved to be a good time to get things done at Uphill. A small piggery – initiated to provide an income stream for the school – was constructed and three mama pigs were installed. Uphill has Pigs!

piggery 2020

Clean Hands for All

A central handwash station was constructed during lockdown, just in time for partial school reopening. Fed by harvested rainwater from across the school site, this addition to the school infrastructure has been widely acclaimed.

hand wash station

Latrine Block for Primary Boys

A further grant from Meeting Needs funded a second latrine block with sewage tank this time for the primary boys. The original latrine will be taken over by the kindergarten children.

boys latrine 2021

Examination Success

In March 2021, the primary 7 pupils finally sat the 2020 Primary Leaving Examinations. This bright year group did themselves proud, with top marks in the district going to an Uphill girl! Examination Success!

Photocopier for Uphill

Creating resources for homeschooling during COVID lockdown is a major challenge for the Uphill teachers. That has changed with the arrival of a multifunction photocopier! New Tech for Uphill

Uphill Junior School Reopens

After being closed to the majority of pupils for 22 months – the longest school lockdown in the world – Ugandan schools reopened to all pupils on 10 January 2022.

Uphill School Library

Thanks to a generous donation of  library books, plus text books from the Ugandan Ministry for Education, Uphill now has a school library. The trustees helped to get all the books in order and onto labelled shelves during their visit in February 2022.

Uphill School LIbrary

Welcome to our Blue School!

The blue roofing sheets and blue-painted classrooms blocks are one of the distinctive features of Uphill Junior School – know within the school community as ‘our blue school’. Now the walls have been painted to match!
our blue school

Uphill Porridge Club

It was clear during the trustee visit in February that many of the pupils come to school hungry and stay that way all day. The Uphill Porridge Club will give every child one hot meal a day in school.

uphill porridge club

Uphill Junior School Website

Uphill supporter Nathan Brown, of Nate’s Creative Digital Solutions, gifted a professional website to Uphill Junior School this year.
Uphill Junior School website home page

We’re Building Again!

As 2022 draws to an end, another Uphill building is rising from the ground – a kitchen with multipurpose school hall!

new building at uphill junior school

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