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Princess Anne and Sir Tim Laurence in front of MAF plane
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MAF flies HRH in Uganda marking 60 years of independence

28th October 2022

Princess Anne and Sir Tim Laurence in front of MAF plane

Princess Anne and Sir Tim Laurence in front of MAF plane (credit: Rembrand Rodenburg & Dave Forney)

As part of her four-day tour in Uganda in support of several charities, MAF flights enable HRH The Princess Royal to access two refugee camps. She visits Nakivale – the oldest refugee camp in Africa – near the Tanzania border, and Kyangwali Refugee Camp in the west of the country

On 26th October, Princess Anne – accompanied by her husband Sir Tim Laurence – boards a MAF plane at Kajjansi Airfield bound for Mbarara to access Nakivale Refugee Camp.

Princess Anne and Sir Tim Laurence are welcomed by MAF and partners at MAF base, Kajjansi Airfield

Princess Anne and Sir Tim Laurence are welcomed by MAF and partners at MAF base, Kajjansi Airfield (credit: Damalie Hirwa)

Sam Baguma, Finance Manager for East Africa (centre) meets Princess Anne

Sam Baguma, MAF’s Finance Manager for East Africa (centre) meets Princess Anne (credit: Damalie Hirwa)

Nakivale is home to around 122,000 refugees, mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has been blighted by conflict for many years (source: UNHCR).

The less-than-an hour flight saves them from a gruelling seven-and-a-half-hour round trip by road, which would have eaten into their busy schedule.

Princess Anne boards MAF plane bound for Mbarara near Nakivale Refugee Camp

Princess Anne boards MAF plane bound for Mbarara near Nakivale Refugee Camp (credit: Damalie Hirwa)

Nakivale Refugee Camp

Nakivale Refugee Camp (credit: Damalie Hirwa)

At Nakivale Refugee Camp, Princess Anne officially endorses a new branch of ‘Opportunity Bank’- the first ever bank in a refugee camp.

Opportunity Bank in Nakivale has been providing life-changing financial opportunities to refugees since 2019.

To date, over 3,800 refugees have opened a bank account, more than 850 loans have been granted and over 6,900 refugees have accessed financial literacy training.

This initiative fosters self-reliance and resilience amongst refugees, helping them to work their way out of poverty. It also stimulates economic growth both across Nakivale Refugee Camp and within surrounding host communities.

Princess Anne then meets some refugees who have directly benefited from Opportunity Bank’s financial services such as the ‘Wenzetu Women’s Group’. Their small businesses are supported by the bank, generating a sustainable income for them and their families including relatives with disabilities.

The Princess Royal also meets the ‘Unleashed Youth Employment Group’ – a refugee led organisation, which enables young people to develop entrepreneurial skills and launch their own businesses thanks to loans from Opportunity Bank.

Nana Francois, Opportunity International UK CEO, is thankful for MAF’s fast and efficient service:

‘We are hugely grateful for MAF’s support as it saved hours of travel time, allowing The Princess Royal to spend more time meeting our clients and seeing the life-changing impact of our work.’

Princess Anne and Sir Tim Laurence return to Kajjansi Airfield met by Ruth Jack, MAF Country Director for Uganda

Princess Anne and Sir Tim Laurence return to Kajjansi Airfield met by Ruth Jack, MAF Country Director for Uganda (credit: Damalie Hirwa)

MAF enables Princess Anne to meet child refugees

On 27th October, precious time is saved once again when MAF transports Princess Anne to Masika River Airstrip to access Kyangwali Refugee Camp – again home to thousands of refugees from neighbouring DRC.

MAF Pilot Dave Forney (L) flies the Princess to Masika River Airstrip

MAF Pilot Dave Forney (L) flies the Princess to Masika River Airstrip (credit: Damalie Hirwa)

Masika River Airstrip

Masika River Airstrip (credit: Dave Forney)

Here, the Princess learns more about how DRC’s ongoing conflict has devastated children’s lives. According to Save the Children, Uganda currently hosts around 5 million refugees – the largest refugee population in Africa. Thousands of refugees have crossed the Ugandan border in this year alone.

Her Royal Highness then visits a Save the Children ‘catch-up club’ in Kyangwali Refugee Camp, which proved an educational lifeline during the pandemic when schools were closed.

Elsewhere in the camp she visits an initiative called ‘Child Friendly Space’ where children have fled their homes due to the conflict and are being supported by Save the Children.

MAF Pilot Dave Forney (far left) is honoured to fly the Princess

MAF Pilot Dave Forney (far left) is honoured to fly the Princess (credit: Damalie Hirwa)

This MAF flight is one of many I have flown to deliver help, hope and healing to refugee communities across Uganda. Flying the Princess is a privilege, and it’s wonderful that she’s using her position to illuminate the plight of those fleeing for their lives, assuring them that they are not forgotten.

MAF Pilot Dave Forney

Sam Baguma, Finance Manager for East Africa (L) accompanies Princess Anne and Sir Tim Laurence off the MAF plane

Sam Baguma, MAF’s Finance Manager for East Africa (L) accompanies Princess Anne and Sir Tim Laurence (credit: Damalie Hirwa)

Princess Anne is no stranger to MAF

In 2016, MAF flew Her Royal Highness to Bangladesh in the wake of Cyclone Roanu, which affected hundreds of thousands of people.

In 2017, she attended a MAF event in Edinburgh where she experienced the charity’s work through a virtual reality headset.

British High Commissioner to Uganda, Kate Airey OBE, who helped facilitate Princess Anne’s latest royal tour in Uganda, is full of praise for MAF:

‘It has been such a help to have MAF’s support on this important visit. They are a lovely organisation doing great work in Uganda.’

Princess Anne happy to be MAF’s safe hands at Kajjansi Airfield

Princess Anne happy to be MAF’s safe hands at Kajjansi Airfield (credit: Rembrand Rodenburg & Dave Forney)