Our sponsorship programme is good for everybody – good for the children, good for the teachers, good for the school and good for the community as a whole. And I do believe that many of the sponsors get a great deal from it as well.
Because a school is not an island, separate from the outside world in which the children live, Les Amis d’Ouganda has become more and more keen to consider the wellbeing of the outside communities. The sponsorship scheme is central to that concern.
Bubebbere and Bulumbu are both very poor communities, existing far from what we consider to be the necessities of life; particularly healthcare, electricity, and running water. The people living there have the benefit of none of these things.
It is not surprising that many of the children underachieve in their education and in their lives. Families which have nothing cannot afford even the lowest of school fees. Our sponsorship scheme has started to counter this situation and to change things for the better. The new communities being established around the two schools are beginning to make the villages places where it is worth staying.
The exodus of the local population that was gathering pace has been slowed, and there are encouraging signs that it can be reversed. The construction of the teachers’ houses that we have funded makes it easier to persuade competent staff to come and work in these poor villages. The school farms, the planting of trees, the clean water projects and the growing opportunities for employment which come with the projects – all of these things have started to rejuvenate the area. At the moment there are no more than the young shoots of spring, but the progress from what we found there 10 years ago can be clearly seen.
If you are already supporting our work, I hope that you will find the information of interest. If you are not helping so far, perhaps it will cause you to think about what you might be able to do to help our colleagues to accelerate that advance.
- We start with youngsters in nursery and primary school to try to put down firm foundations. At the time of writing, you are supporting 75 children at this level. For £65 a year, the little boy or girl that you support is given stability, both in school and in his or her life outside school.
I hope you will agree that this is a tiny amount to pay for the life and hopes of a child and his or her future. Just as important, it ensures that these youngsters do have a childhood, no matter how short.
We believe that you will not find a cheaper sponsorship scheme anywhere. We lead the field from this point of view. We can only do this because the administration of the scheme, both in France and in Uganda, is carried out by volunteers who seek no recompense.
We always have a list of children in need of support. It goes without saying that all of the boys and girls on this list are poor; many of them are orphans, often living with grandparents. You can see above three of them currently looking for help.
2. Secondary School. When we first started the scheme in 2006, we did not even consider the thought that we might be able to help children to have a secondary school education. At that time, once these boys and girls left primary school, that was it; all hopes of continuing their education were over. Seven years later, supporters of our scheme are sponsoring 13 youngsters at this level and this year for the first time, one of our students has entered the 6th form.
Of course this has to cost more. Nevertheless, £210 a year ensures that these boys and girls can continue their schooling. Remember that there are no secondary schools in these villages, and so this amount includes boarding fees. It is possible to pay in instalments and even two or three people can come together to share support for a single girl or a boy.
3. Further Education. This has really given us an exciting taste of a “wow” factor of progress. We noted above that there is no healthcare provision for the people of Bulumbu and Bubebbere. Quite clearly, this also means that there is no advice on family planning, ante-natal and childbirth support, guidance for the young mothers or help with the very little ones.
We cannot overcome this lack in one fell swoop. It is going to take a long time, especially with our limited resources, but when it was suggested that we might support local young women so that they could train in early childhood education we jumped at the possibility. The idea is that after completing their courses, they can return to the villages to support young mothers and their children.
Fortunately, once more, our generous supporters came to our aid, even though, quite naturally, further education is considerably more expensive than costs at the secondary school level. We have two young women who will, all being well, qualify at the end of this year. A third one has another year of training to complete, and we are full of hope that a fourth young woman will be able to start her training next February.
It is hard now to recall how I jumped for joy some seven years ago when we achieved the initial target of ten sponsored children. Since then, progress has been steady; but it is no more than a start. The dream is that these communities can become self-sufficient. The fulfillment of that dream is still far off. The progress so far is nevertheless heartening.
To our current supporters – thank you very much. You are helping to make a real difference.
To those of you just learning about our work, ask as many questions as you like. I am always there to answer them. If you like what we have to say, please come on board, and help us to enable our Ugandan friends and colleagues to help themselves.
Please fill in the details below and return the form to the address given.
I/We wish to sponsor a child at a cost of £65 per year.
British cheques should be made out to “Friends of Uganda”.
(Ask for details if you would prefer to pay by bank transfer)
Please return to: Mr Keith Mills, Les Amis d’Ouganda,
16 rue du Bas, 76780 Saint-Lucien, France.
phone : 00 33 2 35 90 51 95
Email : 4 . oiseaux @ wanadoo . fr