Emergency Response Projects
At times, Sister Schools has stepped in to assist our Ugandan partners with emergency funding if the continuation of the school is in jeopardy.
Many Ugandan students who were enrolled in school in March of 2020 will not be returning to school. On average, only about half of students who start Primary School will complete all seven grades. Coronavirus lockdowns have only exacerbated conditions that force students out of schools: reports of teen pregnancy and child marriages have spiked; already struggling students are losing hope that they can catchup; and many students have no choice but to become breadwinners for their families.
At Sister Schools, we are all about kids helping kids. But local kids can’t help Ugandan kids who aren’t in school.
In May 2020, students at Fernwood Elementary School put their creative talents to work supporting our Ugandan partners. They took their annual Benefit Concert digital and raised over $3,500 to purchase food and learning packets for Ugandan students in need. When schools were shut down, the Ugandan Government was only able to provide each Primary School with 5 workbooks; Kiyunga Islamic, our largest partner, had over 600 students enrolled at that time. Thanks to Fernwood, hundreds of students were able to keep their skills sharp while they weren’t able to attend school. Similarly, the government promised that vulnerable families would be given food while businesses were locked down, but the disbursement was slow to occur in villages; some Ugandans feared that hunger posed a greater risk than COVID-19. Students at Fernwood Elementary School provided 1,000 learning packets and 5,000 meals to students and families in desperate need.
In October of that same year, Sister Schools hosted a Virtual Gala to help address implication of COVID-19 and lockdown measures. In addition to further food and scholastic materials distributions, Sister Schools provided micro-grants to single mothers with children enrolled at Ray of Hope Orphanage and School. Before the coronavirus, all of these women earned an income through small businesses, reselling produce or operating a stall at a market. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, they were forced to close or scale back their businesses and have struggled to provide for their families. Many of their children, but especially their sons, are resorting to scavenging and theft for survival. Others are being wooed by gangs and drug dealers promising money to support their families.
As schools began to reopen in January, many of our partners were unable to meet the government Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS) and were at risk of being closed. Excess funds from the Gala were used to purchase handwashing tanks, temperature guns, masks, and hand sanitizer/liquid soap. At that time, all fourteen of our partner schools were cleared for reopening.
Namulaba Primary School had been leasing land for latrines from a neighbor, until that person chose not to renew the lease and demolished the structures in February of 2018. Without access to a sanitary solution, the school was going to be forced to close. TEK Systems had provided backpacks to students at Namulaba that spring and upon hearing about the impending closure in June, took up a collection in their offices. Within a few weeks, the school had functioning latrines once again – the project is affectionately known as the “TEK Toilets.”
In 2011, Mukono Boarding School was threatened with closure if they could not complete a security wall. Located on a major highway, the town of Mukono had seen a dramatic rise in the practice of child sacrifice and mutilation – promoted by some traditional healers has a means to quick and easy wealth, children and their bodies are seen as powerful totems, used to appease or manipulate the spirits. Local middle schools like Harbor Pointe M.S. and The Bush School added a fundraising component to their supply drives, raising nearly $5,000 which purchased 5,000 bricks and built nearly 1,000 feet of wall to complete the project.
In January 2018, child abductions were on the rise in Mukono District once again. Fearing for the safety of their children, families begged the Mukono Boarding to allow their children to sleep at the school. Filled to capacity, nearly 100 girls were sleeping in the main hall. Thanks to a special Start the New Year Right campaign, the school was able to add a second wing onto the existing building and move all the girls into their new dormitory by March. The building was named the “Ella-Elizabeth Block” after Executive Director Ella McGill and Board Member Liz Silva, who lead the campaign.