Well, September was a good month for Friends. Not only were there two events that together raised nearly £1,000 towards the work of Ray of Hope, but our new website came on line. Again, we would voice our thanks to All Saints Youth Group and to the Metrognomes for their efforts that raised so much money.
Well, I guess that you have found our website! Well done! We owe thanks to Matt Jerwood who put the site together for us. He is now our IT consultant – although we haven’t told him yet! In future we will be keeping in touch with you through the website, so it is vital that you keep yourself informed by logging on periodically. We will still prompt those of you on our contact list when we issue a newsletter, but in between newsletters we will be posting items of interest. At present the ‘Photos’ page is empty, but this will soon have photos of our most recent trip on it. Also, you will see that the ‘comments’ function on the ‘Home’ page of the site has been closed. This is not because we do not want to hear from you – the opposite is true! So, please get in touch if you have an idea for fundraising, or a ‘Friends’ related experience to share. Our personal email address remains the same steveandroh@ live.co.uk, and in addition you can also use the one shown on this website. We hope soon to have a link to ‘Ray of Hope’s’ own website which is under construction.
Ray of Hope School provides free education for Infant and Junior school aged children and the cost is met out of the General Fund to which we at ‘Friends‘ are the major contributors. It could be reasonably asked, ‘Why, if infant/junior schooling is supposed to be ‘free’ in Uganda, is there a need for Ray of Hope to have taken on this responsibility?’ The answer is simple – it is’nt free. There are government schools that do provide free tuition, but these are not situated anywhere near to the Namuwongu community that Ray of Hope serves. Even at these schools there is a cost to parents, as all require the children to wear uniform. There are private schools that are within the Namuwonga area that are subsidised by the government to provide free tuition, but in addition to requiring uniform, these schools also make supplementary charges to cover their overheads i.e. water and electricity, which puts them even further beyond the reach of the poor. So, the children attending Ray of Hope School would not otherwise receive an education simply because their parents cannot not afford the uniform costs and charges that local schools would demand. Of course, if the children miss out on their early education then they are too far behind to take advantage of Secondary education, even if their parents could afford it.
When the children of Ray of Hope graduate, they go on to state Secondary schools, and it is this period of their education that requires sponsorship . The cost of sponsoring a child is only £100 a year. This covers the cost of providing uniform and some charges made by the schools and leaves a little to allow for family crisis. Currently around 150 children are sponsored into the state Secondary system. However, because it is difficult to find sponsors, over 20 of these children are being sponsored from the General Fund and do not have ‘personal’ sponsors. We need more sponsors!
Children like Edmund in the picture above are hungry to learn and know that it is only through education that they will break the cycle of poverty. At the end of lessons in Uganda pencils often have to be pulled from hands to end the lessons! These children value the opportunity to learn and are very grateful. Read the letter below written by Patrick Okuth who is 12/13 yrs old. He does not have a personal sponsor but is sponsored by donations made by Friends through the General Fund. His letter is re-printed as he wrote it – bear in mind that English is not his first language:
”The reason to why I am writing this letter is to inform you that I apreciate whatever thing you are doing to us in our studying process. Also, thank the people who co-perate with you in that process of paying our school fees. If they were not there, where could we be now. So I give you a very strong thanks for that and I need may God help you to continue having that spirit of help. You are in deed a God sent person. Yours Faithfully Okuth Patrick”
Patrick is eloquent in his appreciation of the opportunity that he has been given. Sponsoring gives an opportunity for the sponsor to make a direct and real intervention in the life of child and change it’s prospects radically. Letters and school reports are regularly sent to Friends by Ray of Hope for the sponsors, who can then reply and thereby build up a relationship with their child. Last year Ray of Hope had it’s first child to go through schooling to ‘A’ level. That young lady who was a slum child with no prospects other than repeat the cycle of poverty she inherited is now likely to go to university. We started with a picture of ‘Edmund’. He made an impression upon Liz and I during our first visit to Ray of Hope in 2007 with his willingness to work hard , now he has a sponsor and is well into his secondary education and perhaps university lies ahead for him too.
If you think you might like to sponsor a child then please get in touch.
Update on ‘New School’ Fund
In the August newsletter we reported that our response to the crisis at Ray of Hope, concerning their loss of their school building, would be to set up a fund and try to raise enough money to purchase an appropriate building. The mountain that we had set ourselves to climb was £50,000 high – an amount that initially seemed beyond us. However, within weeks, through the generosity of several friends of Ray of Hope, we were well on our way. Today we can report to you, that as a result of another generous gift, this time from a local Trust Fund, we have lost view of base camp and the summit is in sight! We have £35,000! To continue the metaphor, the last third of the mountain is often the most difficult, so we are not complacent – the last £15,000 is a sizable sum to find and we have only to February 2011 to find it.