North Devon charity Amigos is showing what Christmas in Uganda is like for one of its sponsored children’s families.

The family cook the dinner in a small, smoke-filled hut.The family cook the dinner in a small, smoke-filled hut.

A North Devon charity is highlighting what Christmas is like in Uganda in a fresh appeal to attract more sponsors for children.

Instead of turkey dinners and Christmas trees, food is prepared in a cramped, smoke-filled hut with barely enough to go around.

Barnstaple volunteer Majorie May visited the family of a sponsored child in the Masindi district to find out how they would be spending the festive season.

The main hut in the compound was decorated with flowers, said Majorie.

“Food is being cooked by the mother inside the cooking hut on a wood fire which means the hut is filled with smoke,” she said.

The children sit outside on a papyrus mat, the older girls helping their mother, and any of the neighbour’s children who turn up are included and given food.

Majorie said: “Everyone eats outside; the men have seats at a small table, the children have chairs, some of which have been brought from the neighbours.

“The food is dished up into individual bowls in the kitchen. They have Kalo made from millet, made like porridge but solid. Our nearest equivalent is polenta.

“They also have matoke – a savoury banana similar to plantain and, for a special treat, rice. There is a small helping of beef stew in each bowl or fish for those who don’t eat beef.

“As it is Christmas they also have sodas – a small bottle of coke or 7up. The men have one each, the others share what’s left. This is probably the only one they will have this year.”

The family sit in silence and don’t talk, savouring their food, and anyone who turns up at the meal is also offered food.

The 320 sponsored children helped by Amigos can guarantee a hot meal every day at school under the scheme, but for other family members this could be a rarity.

Phil Pugsley, CEO of Amigos, said: “In these difficult financial times, people haven’t stopped giving they just want their hard earned cash used in a more targeted way.

“Child sponsorship through Amigos is a perfect way of helping to change a young person’s life with the benefits ultimately spilling over into the whole family.”

For more information on child sponsorship, visit www.amigos.org.uk.