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Schoolteacher Trishelle Grady bought a one-way ticket to Uganda to chase her dream of opening a charity and school for impoverished children called 100% Hope. She was taken hostage at gunpoint on her first day and has survived kidnapping attempts.

The amazing tale of starting a Ugandan orphanage

AUSTRALIAN schoolteacher Trishelle Sayuuni found herself held at gunpoint for seven terrifying hours almost immediately after stepping off a plane in Uganda.

Most new arrivals would sprint immediately back to the airport and the safety of their home country after their release.

But Mrs Sayuuni was on a mission to change the lives of impoverished children and would not be swayed by violent threats.

The intimidation did not stop there, but her passion was stronger than the obstacles before her.

Trishelle Sayuuni (then Trishelle Grady) stopped off at Uganda on the way home from representing Australia in Prague in 2009. It was to be a life-changing moment. She fell in love with the country and the people and now lives there to care for impoverished children.
Trishelle Sayuuni (then Trishelle Grady) stopped off at Uganda on the way home from representing Australia in Prague in 2009. It was to be a life-changing moment. She fell in love with the country and the people and now lives there to care for impoverished children.

Mrs Sayuuni now looks after more than 100 local Ugandan children through her charity 100% Hope, a venture born from a dream to help some of the world's most vulnerable children.

Its story began in Dubbo in 2006 when Mrs Sayuuni, then named Trishelle Grady, was studying to become a teacher.

"I had a dream about starting a hope village in Africa, helping kids with education and nutrition, setting up homes and different things," she said.

"Three years later, I was teaching on the Gold Coast and I made the Australian dragon boating team.

The school that Trishelle Sayuuni’s charity 100% Hope has built on five acres in Uganda.
The school that Trishelle Sayuuni’s charity 100% Hope has built on five acres in Uganda.

"I represented Australia at the world championships in 2009 in Prague, and I decided to tack on a trip to Uganda.

"On my first day there I was held at gunpoint for seven hours.

"But I fell in love with the community and the kids and I knew that was where I was meant to be."

She took time off work every year to return to the landlocked country until 2012, when she quit her job, packed her life into a single suitcase and bought a one-way ticket to what had already become her spiritual home.

That was when the volunteer-run charity 100% Hope really got off the ground.

Schoolteacher Trishelle Grady bought a one-way ticket to Uganda to chase her dream of opening a charity and school for impoverished children called 100% Hope. She was taken hostage at gunpoint on her first day and has survived kidnapping attempts, but her
Schoolteacher Trishelle Grady bought a one-way ticket to Uganda to chase her dream of opening a charity and school for impoverished children called 100% Hope. She was taken hostage at gunpoint on her first day and has survived kidnapping attempts, but her

"We've been able to buy five acres of land, and we started a school last year with three classrooms," she said.

It has not been clear sailing for the budding organisation.

Mrs Sayuuni was lucky to survive being caught in the middle of riots in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, while driving from the airport to the charity's village.

She has been thrown in prison and has had someone hired to kill her, all because a local charity she had previous dealings with was discovered to be corrupt.

"We couldn't keep working with them - all international funding for them stopped when they were exposed," she said.

"They did all they could to get me out of the country or killed.

"We've had kids kidnapped as well. They've tried a lot of different angles.

Schoolteacher Trishelle Grady bought a one-way ticket to Uganda to chase her dream of opening a charity and school for impoverished children called 100% Hope. She was taken hostage at gunpoint on her first day and has survived kidnapping attempts, but her
Schoolteacher Trishelle Grady bought a one-way ticket to Uganda to chase her dream of opening a charity and school for impoverished children called 100% Hope. She was taken hostage at gunpoint on her first day and has survived kidnapping attempts, but her

"But I have great contacts because of the rubbish that went on."

Mrs Sayuuni now rates the Ugandan president's representative for her district of more than 400,000 people as one of her "greatest friends".

"He offers us protection now," she said.

"There have been times I wanted to give up but the kids keep me going."

Mrs Sayuuni brought a choir of children the charity cares for to Australia this month for a fundraising tour of Queensland and New South Wales.

It was a life-changing experience for the children and has already raised more than $75,000, but more help is needed.

"The purpose of the tour is to raise $100,000 so we can build five classrooms," she said.

"We started a church, a piggery project and finished building two four-bedroom boys' homes.

"We're still planning for the girls - we hope to build theirs next year.

"It has been mind-blowing.

"It was the kids' first time in an aeroplane and their first time out of Uganda, and they are loving it.

"They've gone to the beach and learnt to swim, but they're not so fond of the cold weather.

"They also don't like lettuce because they think it's cows' food."

Mrs Sayuuni has had some big changes in her own life, too.

Four months after moving to Uganda she adopted a 10-week-old girl whose name, coincidentally, was Hope.

"She was a miracle baby born on the streets. She shouldn't have survived," Mrs Sayuuni said.

"She's now three-and-a-half years old."

Mrs Sayuuni also found love with a local Ugandan man, Fred, with whom she had a baby girl, Destiny.

"I've learnt so much it is amazing," she said.

"Do what you can to help one person at a time.

"You can't help everyone, but if everyone does their bit to help somebody the world will be a better place."

To find out more about 100% Hope, visit the website.