In previous news stories, we have often reported on the Educate A Child Street Children Centre in Kabale run by a wonderful young man, Tukwasibwe Junior. He provides support for very poor children whom he comes across on the streets or who turn up at the door of his small, non-residential centre.
Although many of these children do have a home and a parent, grandparent or guardian, they prefer to spend their time on the streets because home is so poor. Most of them get little or no food at home, there is not enough light for them to do homework, and some have nothing to sleep on except the ground or a small piece cut from a mattress. Some are physically or sexually abused.
Junior offers around 200 such children a safe place to gather, sporting or other activities to occupy them, a listening ear, advice, mediation with parents and guardians, and, most importantly, the opportunity to go to school when he finds sponsors to pay their school fees.
Of the 58 children currently sponsored through All Our Children, 45 attend Junior’s centre. They range in age from 4 to 21 and attend nursery, primary or secondary schools or local higher education institutions. As attendance at any school requires fees, many children have interrupted schooling, dropping in and out depending on their ability to pay. Hence classes in all schools are mixed age and students in their late teens can still be at primary school, as some of ours are.
They range in age from 4 to 21 and attend nursery, primary or secondary schools or local higher education institutions. As attendance at any school requires fees, many children have interrupted schooling, dropping in and out depending on their ability to pay. Hence classes in all schools are mixed age and students in their late teens can still be at primary school, as some of ours are.
Our sponsored children attend both government and private schools. Because the government schools are very poorly funded, have huge classes and few resources, many private schools have been set up which charge higher fees and generally have smaller classes (still very large by UK standards). These private schools certainly cannot be equated with ours, but parents will make enormous sacrifices to find fees for them. They also find them attractive because they offer boarding. Although the dormitories are extremely primitive and usually very overcrowded, at least the children are fed and do not have long and possibly dangerous walks home. They also have supervised homework sessions each evening and early morning.
During our annual visit to Kabale in March 2018, we identified 7 of our sponsored students who would greatly benefit from transfer from government schools to a private primary school, for both educational and welfare reasons. The children were struggling in large classes and making little progress, particularly because of their weak English (the language used in schools, rather than local African languages). They were also suffering from neglect and lack of food in their homes, making learning at school very difficult. We will soon receive end of term reports on their progress from the school, New Foundation Primary School, but we already know from Junior that they have settled in well, are happy, and are trying hard.
We were able to do this because Lindsey Blake, a supporter of AOC who lives in France and has twice accompanied us to Kabale, found sponsors for them all amongst her family and friends. Their contributions have supplemented the existing sponsorships and made up the difference between the fees at their previous government schools and New Foundation. We are very grateful indeed for our French connection! The photograph shows a group of sponsored children at the school.