The First Year Program

The First Year Program


Sister Schools’ dual-impact program empowers local students to provide scholastic materials to Ugandan schools.  Not only do Ugandan students receive the supplies they need to remain in school, but our local communities benefit as our children learn compassion and social responsibility.


Emiko Kobayashi was first introduced to Sister Schools as a third grader at Catherine Blaine Elementary School.  More so than her classmates, Emiko knew about the struggles that the children in the presentation were facing – having spent the first eight years of her life raised in an orphanage in Guilin, China, she had slept in crowded dormitories and eaten just one meal a day.  After the presentation that day in the music room, Emiko went home and started packing up bags of toys, games, and clothes.

Every year, Emiko looked forward to Sister Schools presentations, especially in the spring, when she got to see the Ugandan student who received her item.  “Sister Schools gave me the gift of seeing my jacket on another little orphaned girl.  And showing me the impact I made in her life, my vision for my life has changed and it is now broader, deeper, and richer.  My whole experience with Sister Schools has opened my eyes to strive to do something truly meaningful with my life.”


How It Works

First, your school will host a Fall Presentation where students learn about life in Uganda.  In the 1980s, a decade of dictatorship and Civil War destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure and the AIDS epidemic decimated an entire generation of Ugandans.  While three decades have passed and roads have been rebuilt and infection rates have been curbed, many rural villages and schools still struggle to meet basic needs.

Your students (and staff!) are asked to consider, what would school be like if they didn’t have any books?  How would they learn math if they had a chalkboard but no chalk?  What would their classrooms be like if there were 100 other students, but only enough seating for 30?

Next, your students are invited to participate in a supply drive for their Ugandan partner.  For two weeks, they collect writing materials, books, and paper for the classroom as well as soccer balls and jump ropes for recess!  On Collection Day, Sister Schools returns and takes a picture of any student with their donated item.  Each school brings in an average of 900 lbs of supplies each year!

Volunteers at our Mukilteo Warehouse help Sister Schools sort, box, and label donations while keeping each schools’ collections separate.  All of your schools’ pencils go in one box while crayons go in another; then we repeat with the next school!  It’s extra work, but it is worth it when we know exactly where your school’s donations are going.

If you are interested in a family-friendly volunteer opportunity, consider helping sort at our warehouse in the fall!
More information can be found here.

When everything is boxed up and ready to ship in December, we pack our 20 foot container with boxes and send it off to Uganda!  By the time our Distribution Team arrives in April, the shipment has cleared customs and is ready to head to our partner schools.

 

 

As we distribute all the donations from your school, we make sure to take even more pictures of your donations getting in the hands of Ugandan students.  In fact, we take pictures of the exact same items your students gave!  Throughout this entire process, we have kept your photo items separate so that we can take pictures of your donations in the hands of your Ugandan partners.

At the end of the school year, we get to come back for your Return Presentation, where we show your students first-hand the difference they made in lives of Ugandan children.  As kids begin to recognize their friends and classmates, the atmosphere in the assembly changes – students are excited to see their gifts being used by their fellow students.  They listen to the songs performed by Ugandan students and realize that their gifts incited joy and celebration in these communities.  Even if they could only give one pencil or a spare t-shirt, they realize that they changed lives half-a-world-away.

Before they leave the assembly, Sister Schools encourages them to find new ways to serve communities.  If they can change lives in Uganda, just imagine what they can do in their families, in their schools, and in their neighborhoods.

 


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