Aren’t there public schools in Bwindi?

Yes, but because of Universal Primary Education, many public schools, especially rural schools, are often overwhelmed with too many students and limited facilities and staff. The equality of education may be very poor. As a private school, Watoto accepts no government funding.  This makes it possible for them to keep classes to a maximum of 30 students. Educational results are some of the best in the District. However, because there is no government funding and because most students come from families of extreme poverty – and many are orphans – there are never enough operating funds.

Why do the sponsored children have to board at school?

Children perform better academically when living at school. Many children’s homes are far away from schools. It can take one, two or even three hours to walk each way to school.

Children who go home each night sometimes do not return to school the next day Most of our families live in absolute poverty; many are single parent homes. A child may be needed to help with younger children or to work in the family garden rather than return to school, or the parent may simply not have the time to bring the child back to school.

How are the student sponsorship fees used?

Your annual Student Sponsorship pays for your child’s school fees each year, including tuition, room and board, two sets of uniforms, a small medical plan with the local hospital, limited school supplies, safety, protection and, most importantly, the opportunity for a bright future. Food, including beans, and small amounts of other proteins, are a crucial and expensive part of the fees. Many of our children get little or no protein at home. After a few months in boarding, one can see a visible change in the faces of children, especially their eyes and skin, as well as in their behavior.

Your sponsorships also helps pay for teachers, infrastructure, clean water and many other things that benefit all the children in the school.

I was told that the cost of one year is $450, but when I went online to pay on the website, the fee was higher

The online payments go through Paypal (even if you pay with a credit card) which charges us a fee.  We build that fee into the online payments so the school receives the full $450.  The Paypal fee is added to all online payments. 

Can I visit my child?

Absolutely. Just let us know your dates, and we will make arrangements!

Can I write to my child?

Yes.  Either scan and attach a hand written letter to an email, or just write an email and send it to us.  We will get it to the Headmaster or to Loy who will give it to the child and help him or her read it.  It’s a huge thrill for the child.

Will my child write to me?

This is the hardest part of the sponsorship. There is no Internet available at Watoto, no opportunity to Skype, and although there is a cell tower in Bwindi, the Internet does not work all the time.

You will receive a letter from your child at least once a year.  You will also receive three school reports a year, a new photo each year, and from time to time, we may have additional information to pass on.

Nonetheless, your expectations as sponsors may not reflect the realities of a small village thousands of miles away. We are used to children who have busy, rich lives: after school activities, fascinating projects, events, sports, vacations and museums.

At Watoto, a child’s life is very simple and very routine. There are no computers or video games, no movies, vacations, outings, skiing, swimming or much other than daily routine. For many of them, the only news that tends to occur in their lives is that another parent or relative has died.

It is important to realize that what they have to write about to a sponsor is small, reflecting the quiet day-to-day quality of village and school life.

Part of our commitment to you is to keep as much information flowing to you as possible, through this website and through Facebook.

Do the children get religious training? Did you pick Bishop Comboni and Trinity for secondary school because they are Catholic?

85% of the population of Uganda is Christian. In Bwindi there are Anglican, Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical Churches. At Watoto, as in all schools throughout Uganda, faith is an important focus, and religious studies are required by the Ugandan government to be part of the curriculum at all primary and secondary schools. The schools we work with are non-denominational as Ugandan law guarantees freedom of worship.

Is there anything else I can do to help? 

Yes. Please look at the Other Ways You Can Help page. There are many ideas available, large and small.

May I call or contact you directly to ask questions?

Yes…

Lorna Gladstone | 1.312.316.7386 | lornaradio@gmail.com or
Gina Norgard | 1.516.996.3926 | ginanorgard@mac.com