Geoff & Geraldine Booker attended an Investiture where they each received an MBE from Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, at Windsor Castle last Wednesday (20 March 2024). The awards were announced in the listing of New Year’s Honours at the start of 2024.

The MBE awards were for ‘services to the community of Kabubbu, Uganda’ where they have been involved for 25 years.

Geoff and Geraldine have been involved with the community of Kabubbu since 1999 and have visited up to three times a year since then. They helped form an NGO (like a UK charity) in the village, the Kabubbu Development Project, and still remain as directors with seven Ugandan directors. Geoff and Geraldine were first taken to Kabubbu by some friends who were moving to Uganda to live and work in other villages, mainly around Lake Victoria.

It was a typical Ugandan rural village, an hour or more drive north of the capital, Kampala, into the bush. Its population of 1,400 included 400 orphan children, orphaned primarily through the HIV/AIDs epidemic decimating their parents and other tropical diseases like malaria. The villagers were subsistence farmers eking a living from whatever crops they could grow. Houses, mostly made of mud with thatched roofs, were tumbledown. There was no clean water, health care, education or electricity. The community asked for help.

Promising nothing but to tell the story of Kabubbu on returning to the UK in 2000 and giving 100% of any donations they raised to Kabubbu, the Bookers raised over £10,000,000 in the following 20 years.

Kabubbu now boasts primary and secondary schools and a vocational centre, educating 1,000 students each year. A top-level 20,000 patient a year heath centre with operating theatre, award winning library services training adults, a food growing programme creating harvests between 5 and 10 times greater than their traditional systems, a maize mill to process excess harvests to provide incomes, a ‘Street Business School’ programme training mothers in selling what they do not need, to provide towards their education and health costs, clean water from nine boreholes, a thriving church, electricity and so much more.

Children once destined to become subsistence farmers are now attending college and university, some achieving First Class Honours Degrees.

More than 1,000 adults and schoolchildren, mainly from Sussex and Kent, have visited Kabubbu staying at a purpose-built Resort Centre to bring additional skills to the community. For them, most say their visit was a life-changing experience.

As for Geoff and Geraldine, who had no education or experience in developing a destitute rural village into a thriving hub of activity, they have retired after 25 years of full-on day to day activities for Kabubbu. They put their ‘success’ down to continual Divine guidance. They still visit and still assist through their own charity, the GB Trust, seeking to reach the parts other charities do not reach.

They would love to hear from you if you have been to Kabubbu or been part of some form of activity for Kabubbu. Contact: geoff@gbtrust.co.uk or geraldine@gbtrust.co.uk.