Connect Africa Foundation
May 2013 Connect Africa News Update

Hello from somewhere on the African continent and arriving home to Boston. I am literally writing on the plane as I move from one world to another. I am amazed how fast the past 4 months have flown by, having arrived in Uganda in January.

 

I am always filled with numerous stories that are enriching to the mind and soul. The work of helping educate children utilizing a holistic approach involving the student, the family, the school and the community where they reside is exhilarating and, at times, overwhelming. As I cross the continent I am reminded of starting this journey in 2004 when I observed the difficulties families were having in educating the orphans in their care. Any and all Ugandan families are caring for 4 plus orphans. How does a grandmother, who is a farmer, pay school tuition for these grandchildren? It is nine years later and some of those initial children are in the best schools in Uganda, some have graduated to good paying jobs, and, unfortunately, a few are no longer in our program.

 

Seventy students have passed through our sponsorship progr am. Currently, 41 are being helped by you. Presently, 19 are in primary school, 18 are in secondary school, 1 is in vocational training, and 3 are in university. At present 7 students are in the BEST secondary schools in Uganda. The firlearningst student to set the precedent, is Emmanuel. He attends Kings College: the name alone says it all, an old missionary school that was started for the Kings. Upon Emma going to this school, 2 others have tried to follow in his footsteps. Although they did not make it to Kings College, they are in excellent schools. Unfortunately, not all the students can succeed in academics. Three of our secondary school students are having difficulty. While this is a grave disappointment to them and their families, the mission of Connect Africa is to help them find a way to generate income, so we are in the process of counseling them on vocational training.

Another memory is the day in 2004 when I met with some elders in the community. Through an interpreter (all these years later I still need an interrupter), I asked what they wanted and their exact answer was "To have income and not be beggars". Well, over 100 micro loans later, I smile at that success. The loans are now 3 different kinds: start-up business loans, loans for increasing an existing business, and educational loans. Since 2011, the educational loan has become imperative to many families, when the schools started to demand full payment of tuition on the first day of class. Families who generate some income qualify for these loans. They receive the loan, pay CAF back, and then qualify for another educational loan. To avoid a vicious cycle of need and providing loans, we have instituted a savings component for each loan. Slowly these families will be using their own money for school tuition.

 Guest House 2013

My last reflection for today is that in 2006 I dreamt about a community center where you, our donors and visitors/volunteers could come. In 2012 we began this project, thanks to your donations and belief in our mission. Today I ask that you start planning, networking to others about staying at our guest house, partaking in the many projects that enliven the community center every day, and truly see your help in action. The place is magical and the true Africa.

I don't know where I am flying over. I know I have 4 hours to go to get to London, then another 6 plus hours to Boston, but in writing this I am already feeling nostalgic for those I have left behind. The work continues without me, which is reassuring. The spirit continues to grow every day. The progress is in your hands, and we thank you for every bit of help you give us. 

Warmly,

Lynn and Charles

www.connect-africa.org    

 

 

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