Category Archives: Sponsorship

Two Big Steps Forward

It is time for Forever Friends of Uganda to move to a new, higher level. We are very excited by two major developments which we hope will be central to our initiative to be able to do more to help the children at Bubebbere and Bulumbu.

Sponsorship of children’s education.

We have always been proud of our claim that no charity charges less to give children an education than we do. That is great and something that we, and you who already support children, can be proud of.

The problem is that, no matter how much good it does, it only provides the minimum that a boy or a girl needs to stay in education. It pays the school fees. But children require so much more. Too often they cannot afford the basics that the schools and the children require; and you cannot get more basic than paper, pens and pencils.

Happy children receiving stationery

We have often emphasised the importance of school uniforms in the Ugandan system. From time to time Forever Friends has been able to help with this, and generous sponsors have often provided uniform, other clothing and stationery for their children.

Two little girls in school uniform

In future new supporters will be given the option to stay at the basic level or to offer an enhanced contribution towards their child’s welfare because I know that some want and are able to do more. We shall now offer the following levels:

  • Entry level = £70 (unchanged)
  • Silver level – entry level + stationery = £80
  • Gold level – entry level + school uniform = £86
  • Uganda Royal – entry level + stationery + uniform = £100

There is no pressure to pay more than the Entry Level which ensures that a child will benefit from education. That is the most important thing. We appreciate your commitment. For those who want to do more, you can make your own mind up.

Gift Programme     

 Perhaps you don’t know what to buy somebody for Christmas, for a birthday, or for a wedding anniversary. Why not help a child in need? We promise that every pound you spend will go to where it is needed. We make no deductions.

But……. things do move rapidly on occasions. Within hours of our sending out the details of our gift programme to everybody on our mailing list, a generous supporter had offered to pay for the children’s play park at Bulumbu in its entirety. This will be installed in memory of her father who passed away recently.

So……. it meant that the publicity was already out-of-date. The next thing on our “needs” list is to find funding to improve the water storage facilities at both schools.

You will see that this has replaced the play park on our new leaflet. Everything else is unchanged.

Interactive Gift Appeal . Forever Friends of Uganda

Registered Charity: 1167629 • email: foreverfriendsofuganda@gmail.com • Telephone: 07534936901 • MyDonate

Blog: foreverfriendsofuganda

We were already immensely grateful to another supporter, Lisa Melling, for designing our leaflet and certificate; and she came to our aid once more to modify our request. You will note that the leaflet is interactive, which means by clicking directly on the appropriate places, you will be directed immediately to the Blog, to an email, or to MyDonate where you can make your purchase using your credit or debit card. Of course if you have supported us before, you can still make a direct transfer into our bank account.

Don’t forget. We shall be delighted to offer you a certificate to present to the recipient of your thoughtfulness.

A little girl is proud to take her gift home.

************************

Can I buy you a Rolex?

 You all know what a generous fellow I am, so let me make you an offer. Come to Uganda with us and I’ll buy you one. What do you think of that?

You think there is a catch? Of course you do. Well….. For a start, in Kampala, you don’t wear a rolex, you eat it. It is authentic street food which initially gained widespread popularity around university campuses and students’ residences where vendors took advantage of young people living on a shoestring budget.

A rolex is an omelette, pre-mixed with tomato, cabbage and green peppers and which is then rolled in a chapati. A true fast food; convenient, tasty and cheap. If you want something a little more filling, try a Titanic – two or more chapatis rolled together with the filling. Although I have never met it, there is also the “Kikomando”. Here the chapati is sliced and mixed with beans. Apparently it was inspired by commando units which had to eat quickly in the bush. I am told that it is now very popular in all of the poorer areas of Kampala.

Time for a Rolex

So you see – and as you expected – I am not all that generous.

Keith Mills

Note: We only send this blog to people who are interested in our work. If you no longer wish to receive it, please tell us and we shall immediately remove you from our mailing list.

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Progress for the Poorest

The story of a poor family

The Nalongo* family would have been destined to almost inevitable failure had it not been for our sponsorship programme.

The family when we first met them

The father’s life was disrupted by war which killed many of his relatives in the 1980s. He then succumbed to AIDS and as he weakened was unable to do even the work that George offered him to try to sustain his family. Mother, Nalongo*, tried to support her 6 children by selling vegetables on the morning market, often earning less than £1 a day.

The children were enrolled in primary school, but were sent home from class on numerous occasions because there was a shortfall in the school fees that were necessary to keep them there. Even after five of them had been sponsored, the problem did not go away because they live in town where costs are higher than in the villages where we normally work. That was another problem we had to surmount.

Even at that stage, we feared that the children were destined to failure; that the very best they could hope for would be to complete their primary school years. Pleasingly, with more regular attendance, their results began to improve. They were undoubtedly aided by the gifts that they often received from their sponsors.

The four oldest children as they are now

So where are we up to? Four of the children (perhaps I should now call them students) are attending secondary school after their sponsors generously agreed to pay the additional fees necessary for that level.

There are the twins, Patience who will take her UCE (the Ugandan equivalent of GCSE) at the end of this year and Wasswa who is a year behind his sister. Two more sisters, Hellen and Sharon, have just been promoted into the second year, while Shinan, will take her Primary Leaving Exam at the end of 2018.

Receiving a gift of socks

Despite their difficulties, they are always such a cheerful, welcoming family and it is always a pleasure to meet them on our regular visits.

*To have a family surname is unusual in Uganda, and you will have noticed that we call them the Nalongo family. The mother is called Nalongo; it means the mother of twins.

A serious but rarely mentioned problem for Ugandan girls

There are many reasons why girl children underachieve in Uganda. The country has a traditionally male dominated culture. Girls are needed at home to cook, clean and care for younger siblings. If the family can only afford education for one child, it is nearly always the girl who will lose out. Then there are the issues of pregnancy and early marriage.

Because of all these problems, we have always tried to give that extra helping hand to girl children in need. But there is an additional concern that is too often unspoken.

Many girls in rural Uganda lose several days’ education every month because they are on their periods and do not have access to sanitary protection. It is easy to see how humiliated and stigmatised they can feel when they have to use pieces of old t-shirts or even toilet paper (if the school has any available) and then fasten a sweater around their waist to hide their embarrassment.

It is hard for us to understand that this is a major cause of girl under-achievement and even school drop-out.

A selection of the sanitary products already purchased

This year we have used the income from our membership scheme to start to try to address this problem. We have purchased sanitary protection to help 50 girls in both primary and secondary school to give them help throughout 2018.

This money has come directly from membership fees. At this stage, we have only got around 50 members. If you are not already among them, please join us. Your subscription will be ring-fenced to help the children directly

How much will it cost you? We ask a minimum of £5 per person per annum – less than the cost of a take-away pizza! Please don’t hesitate to ask for details.

Primary Leaving Exam (PLE)

As I am sure you are aware by now, a pupil at the end of her or his years in primary school does not have the right to go to secondary school without a pass in this exam. I am delighted to be able to report that 6 of our sponsored children succeeded this year and that we have managed to secure funding for 5 of them to continue their education. Well done boys and girls and thank you to the sponsors.

Children receiving gifts

A mattress and blanket for a bewildered looking boy

Sponsors often go beyond what we ask of them to support their child through education. Here are two photos of youngsters receiving gifts that have been bought for them.

Harriet shows of her new school materials

Kenisha’s situation is a little bit different. After being diagnosed with diabetes, she had to leave Bubebbere as no health care is available anywhere near the village. She now lives in Entebbe, but the monthly cost of her medicines is a real drain on family resources. So her gift from the sponsor? Payment for her treatment; a life-saving gift.

Her sponsor is helping with Kenisha’s healthcare

Re-roofing the classroom block at Bubebbere

For more than 2 years, we have been slowly accumulating the funds necessary to pay for this most important job. If it is not done soon, the work we did on the interiors is going to deteriorate. We still need just over £1,000. We are determined to raise the balance this year. Until it is done, other necessary projects have to be on hold.

Two pictures of the poor state of the classroom roof

Westwood Primary School

Our partner school at Clayton-le-Woods continues to give us superb support. On this occasion, our son Rogan has promised to try to make himself the most glamorous man in Lancashire! See the attached funding barometer. All support will be gratefully received.

Westwood/Rogan’s Fundraiser

Craft Sales

We have hand-made Ugandan crafts for sale. We are looking for community events where we can set up our stall. Any ideas will be very welcome.

Selling Ugandan crafts

Keith Mills

Sponsorship programme

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.

Child for sponsoring: Bwogi Sone 6 yrs old. His divorced parents have left him with grandmother

Because a school is not an island, separate from the outside world in which the children live, Forever Friends of Uganda has become more and more keen to consider the wellbeing of the outside communities. The sponsorship scheme is central to that process.

Bubebbere and Bulumbu are both very poor villages, 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.

Child for sponsoring: Kazeyire Natasha, 7 yrs, lives with needy relative. Her grandparents were refugees from the Rwanda genocide

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 they are no more than the young shoots of spring, but the progress from what we found there 15 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.

Primary school children – delighted with the support they are getting

We start with youngsters in nursery and primary school to try to put down firm foundations. At the time of writing, you are supporting more than 70 children at this level. For £70 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 brief.

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 Europe 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 from parents who succumbed to AIDS, and are frequently found to be living with grandparents. You can see above two of them currently looking for help.

Danny visiting a family home – the need is clear to see

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.

Of course, different children have differing talents and it has become clear that we need to provide support for a range of abilities. For that reason, we encourage those with academic talents to go as far as possible in that direction. Just as important though is our push to enable youngsters with practical skills to pursue the vocational route.

Already, supporters of our scheme are sponsoring some 20 youngsters in secondary school and another 7 on a range of vocational courses. Even more pleasing, three young women who have been supported since their primary school years are now pursuing university courses.

Naturally this has to cost more. Nevertheless, £220 a year ensures that these boys and girls can continue their education. 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.

Jeanette and Fred Tamale – taking the vocational route on a course in building and construction

Keith with Maria now studying at university

It is hard now to recall how I jumped for joy some twelve 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 fulfilment of that dream is still far off. The progress to date is nevertheless heartening.

To our current supporters – thank you very much. You are helping to make a real difference.

Two little girls show off the school uniforms bought for them by Forever Friends of Uganda

To those of you just learning about our work, ask as many questions as you like. I am always here 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.

Sponsorship Application

Please fill in the details below and return the form to the address given.

 

There is a range of ways that payment can be made

Most people prefer to make a direct transfer into our bank account:

Lloyds Bank Treasurers Account
Forever Friends
Account No: 25657668
Sort Code: 30 90 89
IBAN:  GB56LOYD30908925657668

Cheques should be made out to “Forever Friends of Uganda”
Please return to: Mr Keith Mills, Forever Friends of Uganda,
15 Claremont Road, Stockport, SK2 7AR
UK

We also have a credit card direction that you can take. Unfortunately, if you choose this method we must ask for a small supplement to cover administration charges. Please ask if this is what you want to do.

Phone: +447534936901

Email:  foreverfriendsofuganda @ gmail  . com

Keith Mills

What we achieved in 2015

Sponsorship The only disappointment during 2015 was that we failed to attract as many new sponsors as we need. Although this is a great challenge for 2016, we must not allow it to mask the real pleasure we gained elsewhere.

With Florence at Nangabo - in her college uniform.

With Florence at Nangabo – in her college uniform.

It was so simple in our early days. All of the children were in nursery or primary school, but success gave us a real challenge as the youngsters moved on beyond this level. We now have 14 children at various stages of their secondary education; with several more due to join them this year. Several young women have gained a certificate in early childhood education from the Nangabo Vocational Institute. The latest success from there is Florence Namitala who gained a Grade A pass. Florence has progressed as a sponsored girl from the village to secondary school and now beyond.. She has returned to Bulumbu to work with the little ones there. She is determined to give back something of what she knows has been done for her.

Ronald on his welding course

Ronald on his welding course

We have had other successes: a young woman is now earning her living as a hairdresser and a young man has just qualified from a welding course. A third is about to start his second year on a hairdressing course at the YMCA in Kampala. Perhaps the greatest pleasure rests with a girl who has been sponsored since her primary school years and has become our first ever university entrant.

Majorine is now at university. Here she entertains us during a visit to her home.

Majorine is now at university. Here she entertains us during a visit to her home.

Of course, none of this could have happened without the generosity of the people who support them. Each level of education naturally becomes more expensive. Our congratulations go to the students; but our gratitude goes to their sponsors who have often built up a relationship with the boy or girl whom they are helping, and that in itself is a real delight.

Gifts Our thanks also go out to those who over the year were even more generous with the purchase of gifts for their child: clothes, shoes, school uniforms. One sponsor bought mosquito nets for his child and for his friends, to try to help them to avoid malaria which is a constant threat. Another, whose boy had been intermittently ill for many years, has helped with the payment of medical fees to help him to overcome the problem.

The new water tank being installed.

The new water tank being installed.

Clean water project at Bubebbere It is with great pleasure that we can report that this project has been completed. Water can now be pumped from a protected spring to the school and orphanage where a tank has been installed to store the water as well as, during the rainy season, taking it from the roofs of the school buildings. We thank the Department of Seine-Maritime for its help with this. Their grant made a great difference to the work.

The school at Bulumbu is slowly being developed.

The school at Bulumbu is slowly being developed.

Fourth classroom at Bulumbu The construction of the 4th classroom at Bulumbu has been completed and a start made on the 5th and 6th rooms. This would have been impossible without the support of a charitable foundation which, although it wishes to remain anonymous, knows how grateful we are for its support over many years.

The same organisation enabled us to purchase an ecological brick-making machine. Not only will this help us to cut costs on building projects but will in due course bring in further revenue at the same time as protecting the environment.

Before renovation. Earth floor, bare bricks, no windows or doors.

Before renovation. Earth floor, bare bricks, no windows or doors.

The classrooms at Bubebbere Because of the shortage of funds, these were never built to an acceptable standard and over the years they have deteriorated. We have started a rolling programme to renovate them in order to try to give the children a decent place in which to study. We have not got the wherewithal to do them all in one go as we should have wished. The first two have been completed and the others will be done one at a time as money becomes available. Finally, we shall need to replace the leaking roofing sheets.

Preparing the windows for installation.

Preparing the windows for installation.

Reading for Pleasure The initiation of this programme has been a great delight. A dozen individual sponsors and Westwood Primary School in Lancashire have provided funds to buy the first set of books and we shall follow the progress of the scheme with great interest. If enough money becomes available, we hope also to be able to purchase text books for the school. It sorely needs them.

Books for the reading project

Books for the reading project

Forever Friends of Uganda After an initially difficult start, a partner charity to Les Amis d’Ouganda is now up and running in UK. We could not have got where we are without the support and work of Pam Winders in London. We shall keep supporters on both sides of the Channel up-to-date with what is going on with this partnership.

At the entrance to the new school hall.

At the entrance to the new school hall.

And Not To Forget In February 2015, three of us (Jeanette, Pam and Keith) visited Uganda. We were able to meet the sponsored children at all levels – always a great pleasure. In addition, we participated in the official opening ceremony of the new school hall at Bubebbere. This was another partnership development, and our thanks go out to the Region of Haute-Normandie for the generous grant that contributed significantly to the success of this project.

 

There is so much more that we should like to achieve but at present cannot. If current supporters/readers could spread the word it would give us a real boost. The more people who know about us, the more we should be able to achieve.

 

Keith Mills

So much to do

We are proud of our achievements, but they would be nothing without the backing of you, our supporters. You sponsor children from nursery school, through the secondary sector and on to training courses and university. The money that you have helped us to raise has (among other things) built classrooms, teachers’ homes, a kitchen and a school hall. It has funded clean water projects, solar lighting and self-sufficiency schemes. It has put smiles on the faces of so many youngsters.

That sounds good. Yes? Of course! However, I think that you can already sense my next word: But………

Despite the progress that our colleagues have made with our support, it is undeniable that there is so much more that needs to be done if we are going to secure the futures of the schools and their children: Orphans that we cannot care for because we lack the money to feed them.

Two sponsored girls in front of their home. Mother has died from AIDS and father is bedridden. If the worst comes to the worst, we should hope that they can be taken into the orphanage at Bubebbere - as long as we can find the necessary funds.

Two sponsored girls in front of their home. Mother has died from AIDS and father is bedridden. If the worst comes to the worst, we should hope that they can be taken into the orphanage at Bubebbere – as long as we can find the necessary funds.

A shortage of the basics needed to bring success for the children, including the wherewithal to pay for enough high quality, qualified teachers; even everyday items such as books and pencils are in short supply.

The cost of proper medical care. I have emphasised many times that there are neither doctors nor nurses in the villages.

This temporary classroom was very useful during the dry season.

One of the classrooms at Bubebbere. The floors are nothing but dust and a health danger, the walls require rendering and then painting, and we need to install windows and a door. We cannot re-roof the block until they have all been renovated.

These are some of the everyday problems. On a much larger scale, the schools lack enough decent classrooms and even desks.

We want to help in all of these areas, but we cannot do it without support and I hesitate to ask the same people who generously donate over and over again. We need new donors and new areas of funding if we are going to make our colleagues fully self-sufficient, which of course is our objective.

I must ask. Are you able to help us? There are many ways to do this.

Sponsor a child’s education. Our charges are as low as they possibly can be. We know of no other charity that asks as little as we do. We shall send you further information with pleasure.

A sponsor paid for books and pencils for his child's class. They were so grateful for the gift.

A sponsor paid for books and pencils for his child’s class. They were so grateful for the gift.

Make a single donation or guarantee a regular amount. When we know that your money is coming in each month, we can plan ahead in a better fashion.

£5 will buy 30 exercise books

£10 will feed a child in the orphanage for a week – with change left over for other necessities.

£15 will buy a boy or a girl a pair of shoes to protect him or her from the nasty effects of jiggers.

£16 will allow 2 or 3 children to have a desk instead of having to kneel on the floor with their books on a bench.

This temporary classroom was very useful during the dry season. Then the wind and rain came.

This temporary classroom was very useful during the dry season. Then the wind and rain came.

On a much larger scale, we need to build more classrooms, while some of the existing ones are in urgent need of improvement and renovation.

I try to be positive in these blog articles, but sometimes it is necessary to be blunt. There is so much that we cannot do.

A child's grandmother supervising the children while they write letters to their sponsors.

A child’s grandmother supervising the children while they write letters to their sponsors.

If you are at all enthused and feel that you want to do something, what about arranging a sponsored event? Or perhaps a party or quiz night? It can be hard work, but it can also be FUN. Enjoy yourself and help children in real need at the same time.

If you want to know more, just ask. I shall support you in any way I can.

Young People Can Do Wonderful Things. Please help us to give them a chance to do so?

Keith Mills

What the Sponsors Think

Have you considered sponsoring a Ugandan boy or girl, but hesitated because you are not sure whether the scheme has value, or whether your money would be well used?

 

We regularly tell you about the importance of the project, to the children themselves, to the schools and to the communities around Bulumbu and Bubebbere. So I thought that it might be interesting and useful to learn what some of the sponsors themselves think about how it works in practice, and their reasons for supporting children in this way.

 

Sponsored nursery class children at Bulumbu receive a gift of school uniforms.

Sponsored nursery class children at Bulumbu receive a gift of school uniforms.

The right to education is taken for granted in the western world, but in a country such as Uganda where some 3.5 million children live in poverty, that is not so. As AH commented:

 

Why do we sponsor Ugandan kids we have never met? What it comes down to in the end is simply that we are privileged and they are not. And that is just an accident of birth. We all share this planet but a few of us are, relatively speaking, able to enjoy wealth, health and freedom. This is down to the luck of the draw, being born in this country especially and the western world in general means a life of privilege.

Douglous - sponsored by AH

Douglous – sponsored by AH

JH backs this up when she says, “It seems to me to be the only way I can actually do something to help a child living on a fantastic continent where, sadly, survival is a daily struggle.”

Joweria receives her Primary Leaving Exam certificate from JH

Joweria receives her Primary Leaving Exam certificate from JH

PC puts it slightly differently, “We want to help the country rebuild. it is only a drop of water, but it is so important for these children.”

Ronald - sponsored by PC.

Ronald – sponsored by PC

AS confirms how fortunate we are in the west when she told us, “One of the boys we supported had to leave school to work to help his family – at 10 years old! By helping children get a basic education (and a meal) we hope to improve childhood for them, and give them a better chance in life.” 

 

We have pointed out before that children have been lost to our programme through death (both pupils and family) and through poverty. If we can keep a proportion of these youngsters in school for just a few more years, we give them that chance in life as well as the possibility of a little bit more of the pleasures of childhood; that is worthwhile in itself.

 

When we started to ask people to support youngsters’ education, it was entirely at the primary school level. But time does not stand still and each year we have youngsters who have passed their PLE (Primary Leaving Exam) but whose parents would find it difficult or impossible to find the fees to support their sons and daughters at the secondary level.

 

What a happy photo; sponsor, his Ugandan "son" Ivan and Ivan's mother.

What a happy photo; sponsor, his Ugandan “son” Ivan and Ivan’s mother.

As JH points out:

 

At the end of her primary schooling, Joweria went off to work in the fields – now, she is at secondary school, still struggling probably, but with the hope of a future which she wouldn’t have if she’d stayed in the fields! It’s what the French call, “la goutte d’eau” – if more people sponsored, there’d be more “drops of water” in this huge ocean of famine and misery, and life would be more worth living for many children.

 

KM backs this up:

 

We first met Ronnie at his home, a wattle and daub structure sheltering a large family, when he was still a young boy. It was not the kind of setting or background that would enable him to prosper educationally. He is no world-beater academically; his three years at secondary school have been a struggle. However, he is still there and still studying, and he still has the chance of a better future.

The first time that we met Ronnie at his home

The first time that we met Ronnie at his home

 

Now Ronnie is a secondary school student

Now Ronnie is a secondary school student

It is wonderful that this year, we shall have our first student who will sit her A levels. That is an exciting prospect for our young charity, and her sponsor is very proud of her African child’s progress. CR has traced the history of the support that Marjorine has received:

 

I could not make a choice from the photos; it was too disturbing. Keith told me that it is more difficult to get support for girls especially if they are older. Among the photos, I stopped on a small face with mischievous eyes and a bright smile. In my heart, I think that despite an uncertain future and precarious living conditions, she smiled, a positive child, a fighter. Her name was Marjorine.

 

Over the years, we have established a link with Marjorine, at first by means of school reports, then through letters and small gifts. She has grown up, and we encourage her as best we can. Through her letters, she tells us about her family, her life. She is flourishing and we learn how she wishes to develop professionally.

It is interesting that Marjo is the same age as our daughter, Camille, and despite the fact that they are growing up in two such different worlds, their expectations and their desires seem to be similar. Even more curious, they entertain the same professional goals. This gives an element of added responsibility to this sponsorship; we need to support her studies so that she can succeed as well as our daughter. Helped by our small financial contribution, Marjo is making her way; we are proud of her work, her tenacity and her determination to succeed. We are just one more string to her bow, a support to help her become a complete woman.

Our most senior student Marjorine receiving a gift of clothes send by CR

Our most senior student Marjorine receiving a gift of clothes send by CR

The question remains; if you are not already sponsoring a child why should you do so through Friends of Uganda? If you are not convinced by my words, perhaps those of the sponsors will help to persuade you.

 

From EL: Why this association? Because I came across it at the right moment, because I was delighted to be able to improve his daily life, even a little … in addition I wished to sensitise my 5-year-old daughter that we are not all equal and that it is possible to help people who are in need. Five years later, I am very pleased with this sponsorship and with this charity. Even though I devote very little time to it, I know that my membership permits a child to have a better life. Thank you both.

Ssesanga and his mother receive a letter sent by EL

Ssesanga and his mother receive a letter sent by EL

In a slightly different way PC confirmed: We wanted to sponsor a child with Friends of Uganda because it seemed very well organised. It was not just charity but a means of development for these young orphans. We were persuaded that the charity and what it represents functions well and faithfully, and we have been happy to follow the educational development of these children and particularly of Ronald and his village which seem so far away.

 This is the way that MN puts it: I think it is a fantastic scheme. Although it is relatively small, what it lacks in breadth it gains in depth; it is personal and intimate.  I find it rewarding to know where our small contribution is going.  Other larger schemes can be impersonal and we, seldom have any idea how our remittance is applied.  It is also very rewarding to be able to track the progress of our sponsored child.

Milika takes away her blanket and mattress, a gift from MN

Milika takes away her blanket and mattress, a gift from MN

 If you are still not convinced, perhaps AS can persuade you: “Friends of Uganda” should be an example to other similar charities. If more villages in Africa were supported by villages such as St. Lucien (and friends!) it would be a wonderful improvement overall for many countries.

 

We have agonised about including words which praise Jeanette and me, but in the end we are asking you to trust us and I felt that we had to include one comment from CR. It is included in all humility:

 First of all, we chose to sponsor a child because of the personality of Keith and his wife Jeanette … dedicated and hard-working, their charity is central to their daily lives. Their sincerity leaves no doubt about the conduct of their association. And most importantly, they do not drive a Ferrari!

 

Thank you CR – at least your last sentence is true!

 

Keith Mills, president

 

Sponsored secondary school students sing for us

Sponsored secondary school students sing for us

 

The ups and downs of the sponsorship scheme

The importance of our sponsorship programme for the children themselves, for the consolidation of the schools at Bulumbu and Bubebbere and for the wider communities in those villages, not to mention the progress being made by Les Amis d’Ouganda, should be crystal clear to everybody who has followed what we are doing.

 

This project has served as a beacon to attract more supporters and is a constant source of pleasure for those of us doing the work both in Europe and in Uganda.

 

For the positives. We currently have 94 youngsters being supported and we thank most sincerely each and every sponsor. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Primary school children sponsored = 76
  • Secondary school students supported = 15
  • Vocational training on an early childhood course = 2 young women
  • Vocational hairdressing course = 1 young woman

 

Happy looking members of Kawempe Dream Scheme.

Happy looking members of Kawempe Dream Scheme.

It is a great pleasure to report that two other sponsored young women have graduated from their training in early childhood education and have returned to the villages with added experience and enthusiasm to work with the little ones in the nursery classes. Just a few years ago, we could never have dreamed of such a development.

 

The lives of these children and young people have all been influenced for the better. The schools are now firmly established and are becoming more and more viable in the long term. The local communities are being rejuvenated as villages where it is worthwhile living; the mass exodus into town has been halted and even reversed.

 

These positives though cannot and must not mask the negatives; the problems, the sadness and the personal tragedies which remain. The AIDS epidemic which ravaged the country resulted in a missing generation; there are so many children who have to live with grandparents. The problem is accentuated when the family members of the senior generation die, often leaving the children with nobody to care for them. Some can be taken in locally by friends or other relatives; others are moved around to different regions where the extended family can perform the role of stand-in parents; sadly, for others, even that option does not exist.

 

Since our Dream Scheme friends inaugurated the orphanage at Bubebbere (where many of our sponsored children live), there has at least been another possibility. It can only take 34 children however and that does no more than scratch at the surface. Each year sponsored youngsters are lost to the school, to education and to our project for this reason.

 

Of course there are many children who are themselves HIV positive through mother to child transmission. Although anti-retroviral drugs are available, there are additional problems in remote villages such as Bubebbere and Bulumbu where there is no medical oversight whatsoever. We have pointed out on numerous occasions that government health facilities can only be found many, many miles away. Even there, the quality of care is often far from the best.

 

HIV is only one element in the overall health problem. Malaria is an even greater killer. Infantile diarrhoea is another source of childhood death and this is not helped by the lack of clean water facilities, and can lead to intestinal worms. If we add to these, problems caused by malnutrition and respiratory diseases, it is clear that childhood in rural Uganda is not a smooth-running stream. It constantly amazes me that the children are so positive and cheerful when they greet us.

 

The children at Bulumbu are cheerful even though they must study on their knees.

The children at Bulumbu are cheerful even though they must study on their knees.

All of these issues affect our children in a variety of ways. They can be absent from school through illness, or through having to care for sick parents, grandparents or siblings. Often from a young age, they have to contribute to keeping the family alive. Even when they get to school, study can be a secondary concern if they are suffering from debilitating anaemia or malnutrition.

 

There are unfortunately many occasions when the problems become overwhelming. Children drop out of school for a whole range of reasons. They may be left as orphans and moved elsewhere to be cared for. Parents are hospitalised and a boy may have to take on work as a labourer or by fishing on Lake Victoria. A girl, even at a young age, may have to take responsibility for family care, or to seek employment as a maid for example.

 

I always find it difficult when I have to tell a sponsor that their little boy or girl has dropped out of the scheme and to ask him or her to take on another child; especially when it may happen more than once. But what does my small problem matter? Next to the lives of these youngsters, our problems are no more than a drop in the ocean.

 

So ….. I am sure that on the next occasion that I have to ask you to take on a different child, you will understand. At the very worst, you have already given your Ugandan “son” or “daughter” a few more years of childhood that she or he may not otherwise have enjoyed. At best, you will be providing a real future for a young person who otherwise might have had nothing.

 

Les enfants à Bombo The children at Bombo Dream Scheme wait for us rather nervously.

Les enfants à Bombo The children at Bombo Dream Scheme wait for us rather nervously.

We try to give hope to these children and can only say thank you for giving support to that hope.

Logo from Friends of Uganda created by Nyanzi Art

Logo from Friends of Uganda
created by Nyanzi Art

 

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.

Sponsorship Application