A NEW partnership between the University of Winchester and the city’s Rotary Club has founded a scholarship for students from Uganda. 

The first to benefit is Thomas Bwambale Muhiwa was at the university to witness the signing of the agreement with Winchester Rotary. 

Over the next ten years the club will fund three students from the Kasese district.

Nick Bell, scholarship lead for Winchester Rotary, said: “We have had a long association with an organisation called Great Lakes Peace Centre in Kasese. In 2019 myself and another Winchester Rotarian helped to organise a weekend Peace Conference for local schools. Thomas attended that and we were very impressed by his attitude and approach and the fact that he volunteered with GLPC.” 

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Thomas’s volunteering involved running GLPC’s social media and acting as community engagement officer, helping to recruit more young people to the project.

Rotary arranged for Thomas to come to the UK as an intern with the charity Tools for Self Reliance (TFSR), based at Netley Marsh. 

Hampshire Chronicle: Winchester Rotary president Les Haswell and University of Winchester vice-chancellor Sarah Greer

He spent four months there last summer helping to refurbish donated tools to be sent out to the developing world as well as doing a round of presentations to Rotary clubs. Thomas also ran the Clarendon Marathon, on the back of just five weeks’ training, raising £1,500 for TFSR. 

Last month Thomas, 22, returned to the UK to begin a four-year computer studies course. 

He is one of four children who were brought up by their mother when their father abandoned the family when Thomas was 13. His mother has supported the family through her own business selling second hand clothes. 

“In Uganda it is hard for a person like me to access computers,” said Thomas. “I hope to go back to Uganda to set up a computer firm and also an IT centre to teach computer skills.” 

Thomas is spending his first year living with Nick and his family in Kings Worthy but the club hopes to raise enough funds for him to go into student accommodation next year to get the full university experience. 

The agreement between the university and Winchester Rotary was officially signed by vice-chancellor, Professor Sarah Greer and the Winchester club president Les Haswell. 

Professor Greer said: “We are delighted to welcome Thomas to Winchester. He has already achieved a great deal in his life and we hope his time here will be a springboard for even greater successes in the future. We also look forward to welcoming future students from Kasese as part of this agreement with Winchester Rotary Club.” 

Mr Haswell said: “Winchester Rotary is pleased to be working with the University on this scholarship project and is grateful for the collaborative support we have received in preparing and now implementing the project. We look forward to working together to make Thomas’s journey to graduation one that he will enjoy as well as benefit from.”