Our Child Sponsorship Program
Our child sponsorship program here at Team College is perhaps a little different from other such sponsorship initiatives. We're not going to parade cute pictures of smiling kids for you to choose from; not least because if you do make the positive choice to invest in the future of one child we need to ensure it goes to the child most in need at that time. As such we will select a child from the school and forward their details to you (though we are open to boy/girl requests!)
Children come to our school for normally four years before completing their "O" levels and either moving on to specialist "A" level schools and colleges or pursuing a vocational training route. As such we ask that when you join the child sponsorship program you commit for that period of four years to a particular child. We do appreciate that people's circumstances change, its just an ask that you intend for the sponsorship to last for that period.
You can then develop a proper bond with the child you sponsor. They're not little kids but teenagers who have academic ability; they just come from families where there is simply no money. As such, sending emails, exchanging photos etc is encouraged as is visiting our community and sponsored child here in south-west Uganda.
As an example of how the child sponsorship can work, take the case of Lincoln (name changed.) Lincoln was the youngest of three brothers and one sister. It was a small family by Ugandan standards but his parents decided that they only had the means to support a smallish family. When Lincoln was four his father died after contracting the AIDS virus and mother struggled on by herself helped by her own aging parents. Although government schooling is supposedly free in Uganda, its not as schools charge fees for the use of classrooms, toilets etc. With four children at school Lincoln's mother often found it too hard to make ends meet and the children were often "chased" from school for non payment of fees due. The two oldest lads eventually dropped out because in Uganda there is no automatic progression at the year end, rather you need to pass your end of year exams in order to be "promoted" to the next year group. These boys concluded that they would never be in school long enough to pass those exams. One of the boys now works in a shop earning the equivalent of 45p a day whilst the second oldest has got himself an apprenticeship as a mechanic so his future looks brighter.
Lincoln performed exceptionally well in his exams at the end of primary school however his mother then fell ill and she couldn't afford any school fees for his secondary education. A sponsor stepped forward and now covers the main cost of Lincoln's education which works out at just £12 a month; less than the cost of a daily newspaper. Lincoln knows that he will never have to worry about being "chased" from school nor have to watch his mother becoming distressed because she cannot provide him with the education his hard work merits. He has also struck up a friendship with his sponsor who visits him in Uganda both at school and home where the sponsor spends time with Lincoln and his family.
Is this something you could also achieve? Your sponsorship will provide a specific child with the means to attend school and be properly equipped and fed. Don't forget, these are all gifted children who deserve to do well and work hard, they just live within poor, albeit loving families.
Please note that Team College has a clear expectation that parents make a meaningful financial contribution to the cost of their child's education and not expect outsiders to pay for it all. Your sponsorship "tops up" the family contribution but also covers periods when the child's family is in temporary financial distress (often caused through illness) or where a child has been orphaned and the child would otherwise have to leave school as there is no adult to pay for him or her. The child who you will be sponsoring could not attend the school without your support.
The sponsorship program is administered for us by the Ruhanga Community Network, a local organisation run here in the village. We are part of the network and they charge no fees whatsoever for helping us with this allowing us to get on with teaching whilst they run the sponsorship along with many other village projects together with volunteers and local residents.
Unlike other child sponsorship programs we don't gift wrap our students with certificates etc! When you sponsor with us you enter into a personal relationship with that child and we ask you tell us how you would like to see that sponsorship develop for example you may or may not want to receive up-to-date photos, school reports, other information etc. You tell us and we'll facilitate it!
When considering child sponsorship remember the old story of the little girl down on the beach who saw so many starfish washed up on the shoreline. She worked hard to throw the starfish back into the water saving their lives. An older man sat down and watched her for a while before remarking "there's no point, there's too many of them to make a difference." The girl looked up and smiled before throwing another starfish back in the ocean and replying "It'll make a difference to that one."