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?

Our children perform better academically when living at school. Many come from far away. It may take several hours to walk each way to school.  At Watoto, children also receive more nutritious food than they would at home. After a few months boarding, one can see a visible change in the faces of children, especially their eyes and skin, as well as in their behavior.

When a child goes home each night, he or she may 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.

There is seldom light to study by at home, nor anyone to encourage them to study. No one has textbooks to take home. We try to purchase more for the school every year, but there are never enough even in the classroom.

How are Donations/Sponsorships used?

Educate Bwindi provides the vast majority of all school costs.

We combine most donations to provide nutritious and plentiful food, salaries for teachers and staff, a health and wellness program including a small medical insurance plan, a full-time nurse at school, school supplies, teachers’ salaries, small infrastructure projects and on and on– everything needed to support the school’s operating budget as best as possible.  A sponsored child also receives his or her own personal items every year. These may include clothing, shoes, a bookbag, a new blanket or a lock box for their few possessions, just to name a few.

Educate Bwindi also uses an outside auditor and other financial controls in Uganda and must pay modest foreign taxes, legal costs, bank fees, etc.  On occasion, we may bring in a consultant, for instance, to do teacher training. These are simply examples of the ways your donation helps support the goal: to provide your child, and every child,  with a happy and healthy education and living environment.

I was told that the cost of the first year is $555, but when I went online to pay on the website, the fee was higher.

Online payments, whether you use a credit card or PayPal, are processed through PayPal which charges a fee for each donation. We build that fee into all online payments.  We receive a non-profit discount from PayPal website, but the US cost and international cost vary.  The amount shown on the website ensures that payments cover costs for a newly sponsored child regardless – with the US cost being a little more, and the international cost being a little less. If you live in the US, you may wish to consider sending a check.

Can I visit my child?

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

Can I write to my child?

Yes.  Either scan and attach a handwritten letter to an email, or just write an email and send it to us.  Children also love getting photos of their sponsors! Tell them where you live, what it is like there, about your job, your family – the more detail the better!  We will get it to the Headmaster or to Ibrahim who will give it to the child and help him or her read it.  It’s a huge thrill!

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 San Giovanni 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…

EducateBwindi@gmail.com

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