This is our real question. How do we come alongside a community to offer a hand up....a way out of the generational poverty that plagues them? We don't want to be the "end all" We don't want our friends to need us forever. We want to help until help is no longer needed....then we will move into simple friendship with that group of mamas and together we will offer our hands (both our mamas and ours) to another group of women.
The component that stands above all of the rest in all of the research on development is this: Education is key.
Education of our mamas so they can further their business is key. We are starting our Literacy Classes next month and are thrilled! We have seen such progress with every set of empowerment classes our mamas have attended ---- from the Grow Hope Foundation's classes on sustainable farming to Healing Faith's classes on malaria prevention to the local leaders we have hired to teach gardening and organic manure and health. Every time we are amazed and inspired as we watch our mamas grow their businesses with new tools and strategies and skills!
What about their children, though?
You see, our mamas are growing their businesses and increasing their funding and one day....one day they will be able to send their kiddos to secondary school, vocational school and even university.
But the hard fact remains....
Their children can't wait that long.
If we wait for 5-10 years until our mamas can afford schooling, we will have another entire generation who will need us one day because they did not get the skills necessary! So we have to put their kids in school NOW. They just can't afford to wait. AND the really, really amazing thing is that if we can come alongside these mamas and mentor their kiddos and help them attend school, their kiddos will join us on the adventure of lifting their communities out of poverty!
Primary School (grades K-7, referred to as P1-P7)
Primary School in Uganda is provided by the gov't. It is technically "free" and mamas only have to provide a registration fee and provide for some needs. In the past, our mamas struggled to put their kids into even primary school because they lacked the $1.50-$5 needed. Now that their businesses are growing, they are able to put their kids in primary school! So we don't have to worry about our little ones....though we sometimes partner with a few primary schools to give out supplies, teacher's aids or other gifts. We are thankful they are loving all of our mamas' littles!
Secondary School (grades 8-11 or 14. Referred to as S1-6)
Secondary School in Uganda is NOT free. In fact, it costs (depending on the school) somewhere between $145 and $175 per year. When our mamas' typical annual income is a mere $276, you can imagine that secondary school is tough to provide for your kiddos. If they can manage, often just one child in the family will attend school. Or kids will take turns.
Our plan is to offer each child a $135 scholarship to attend school. This still allows for their mamas to be involved in their schooling as well because we do not provide the full amount. Because we are passionate about not only seeing children educated, but inspired to BE the kind of people in the world that will love and love well, we also provide mentoring. Mike Eceru (our school program director) and his team visit every one of our 6 main secondary schools weekly to encourage, inspire and challenge the kids. The children LOVE this and are so thankful that we care about their souls and not just that they attend school.
We have 839 kids in this program! The funds for this come from our monthly donor program (Join Our Village) funds for each village. If we are short when its time for school fees (3x per year), we do one-time donation campaigns to finish off the fees.
What happens after secondary school?
Kids have 2 possible paths after secondary school. Both paths are valuable and are chosen based on the kids' ability as well as their desire and dreams. We do not, however, simply want to create opportunities for our kids to leave their villages and never look back. For this reason, they continue in mentoring relationships with our staff. Vocational kiddos will be meeting monthly with our Program Director and staff while University kids meet during their breaks (university campuses are spread out across Uganda). These kids also have to sign a code of conduct as well as a volunteer agreement. We ask them to plan now for giving back to their mama and their village. During each break, the students will be serving their villages, working in the community gardens and providing training to the mamas based on what they have learned!
Ok, on to the two paths....
1. Vocational School
If they pass S4 grade, they can then move on to vocational school. This is a trade school where they can learn anything from driving to hair to brick laying. This costs anywhere from $300-$500 per year.
We have 153 students in vocational school. Like secondary fees, these fees are due 3x per year and are taken from the village funds provided by our monthly donors! If we are short when it comes time for fees to be due, we raise these along with the secondary fees.
The fees to cover University are due 2x per year with a typical college calendar divided into semesters. It is quite pricey by Ugandan standards (nothing compared to US colleges though!). The scholarships we offer run from $245-$650 per student per semester.
Because of the larger numbers, these cannot at this time be covered by our $23 monthly donors.
This is why we need YOU!!!!! We rely solely on one time donations to cover the 113 students who want to go to University. Their fees are due Sept 1 for this next semester.
Our school bill for all of these students to stay in school is $42,485. So far, we have $5,000 raised. This means we still need $33,985 in the next two weeks.
If you would like to send a student to University, you can give by clicking HERE!