In my last blog we were excited to announce the launch of Walk In Love Uganda. In case you missed it, you can catch up HERE. The leaders of the Catholic Church, who have so graciously allowed us to use one of their buildings, were very eager for us to quickly get the preschool up and running. There had previously been a preschool operating out of the same location. Recently the enrollment dwindled and the teacher found a new job. On the day our project was greenlighted we arrived at St. Michaels to find a student waiting for us.
We have spent the last 19 days working at a feverish pace! Matt started working with a local contractor on the very first day. Together they have tiled and painted the two classrooms, refinished the bathrooms and installed a sidewalk in front of the building. We are hoping to install gutters and a water collection tank when the budget allows ($500).
We hired a teacher and an office manager. Our plan is to hire one teacher for every ten students in the preschool. In Uganda, preschool is divided by age into three groups. Three-four year olds are baby class, four-five year olds are middle class and five-six year olds are top class.
We have had several additional meetings with the Catholic Archdiocese and everyone is so excited about what is happening at St. Michaels. The main people from the Church that we are working with are based out of an office called Caritas that is about a mile from the St. Michaels facility. They are very involved with the local refugee population, as the refugees seek assistance from Caritas during times of need or when they have just arrived. During our first week, we received a call that there was a family that needed our services. Matt arrived to meet with them and take them to the facility, only to find two families and 6 kids!! With the one child who was waiting from the beginning and one child belonging to our office manager, we ended our first week with an enrollment of 8.
On Monday we received another call from the Caritas office. They had 4 families they wanted to refer to us. Apparently those families told their friends because by the end of the day we have enrolled over 20 kids!!
You guys, I am speechless when it comes to the level of need of the families in our neighborhood. Although I truly believe that providing low cost, high-quality childcare can change the trajectory of a family, after listening to the stories from today, it feels a little bit like putting a princess band-aide on a gunshot wound. I definitely believe in our project. I have seen the impact daycare can have on families in poverty. But I am also very eager to roll out some of our new plans like small business loans and vocational training.
I would like to take this time to introduce you to some of the families that have joined Walk In Love Uganda. Their pictures and stories are being shared with their complete consent. Funny fact, most of these families speak Swahili!! Here we had thought we had left our Swahili days behind us, but I was never so thankful for my language skills (as limited as they are) as I was today.
This mama and her three babies escaped from Congo. In her words, they ran away in the dead of night. Her husband was being attacked as they ran, and no one knows what happened to him. She has an older daughter who has cancer. She lost her home because she could not pay rent. She is currently sleeping on the floor of a local church. Her two older daughters will be attending our preschool and her baby will come to the daycare once it is up and running.
This grandma is raising 6 kids. Her son, their father, died several years ago and their mom ran away. The grandfather was recently in an accident and lost his arm. He was the primary breadwinner. Now they cannot pay school fees for 5 of the kids. Only the one qualifies for our project.
This mama is raising her six kids after her husband was kidnapped in December and later killed. She was one of two that told us the story of a family member being kidnapped only to later be found dead. It is apparently forced labor trafficking. She had the police report to verify her story. Her husband was the primary breadwinner and now she does not have any way to pay her rent or school fees for her children. Her two youngest children will attend our preschool.
This is a refugee family from Burundi. They have been unable to work due to difficulty with immigration. They were recently evicted from their home and are now sleeping at the local church. Only their youngest child qualifies for our preschool. The older two are 9 and 11 years old. They have not been able to attend school over the last four years. The parents were desperate for school fees, but right now that is not something we can provide.
Friends, these are just a few of the stories we heard today. We had 15 more families come to the center today. We agreed to enroll all of the kids ages 3-6 years into our preschool free of charge for the first month. We explained that our social worker is going to be starting in March and will visit each of the families in their homes to determine their level of initial contribution. Although we are still committed to the importance of families making a payment for childcare, after being with these families we realize that it will definitely have to be more of a sliding scale for now.
If you have been wondering, NOW IS THE TIME TO HELP. We had to hire more teachers much quicker than we thought we would. We need to open the daycare as soon as possible. We could have easily admitted ten kids to the daycare program today alone. Just think of the impact childcare could make for these families. They would be free to pursue employment options that would never have been available otherwise. Think of the impact daily quality nutrition and education will have on these children. Walk In Love Uganda has the potential to change the course of life for so many families in our community. Please consider a small (or large!!) monthly donation or a one time gift.
We currently need pledged support of $1000 per month to be able to meet our budget. Please consider joining us. Donating is so easy and every amount makes a difference!
Just click on this link: WWW.WALKINLOVETZ.ORG/DONATE to go to our donation page. In order for the funds to come to Walk In Love Uganda you must put “Uganda” in the memo line.
You can also donate by check at:
Walk In Love International
12802 S Arapaho Drive
Olathe, KS 66062
Make sure to put “Uganda” in the memo line! If you make a donation by check, would you please send me an email at Kelly@tzorphan.com so that I can follow up. Thanks!
We are also using the Zelle app for donations using the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you make a donation by Zelle, would you please send me an email at Kelly@tzorphan.com so that I can follow up. Thanks!