Children who previously had little hope are thriving at The World Children’s Fund Mama Kevina Secondary School. The boarding school provides education and care for more than 400 children. Students who attend the school have been displaced, orphaned and neglected. The country of Uganda has been impacted by its own ongoing wars and conflicts, civil war in bordering countries, floods and HIV/AIDS, all of which has created a large orphan population. Some of the students have lost parents and siblings during rebel attacks on their native villages. Other children were separated from their families as they moved from village to village seeking refuge.
Beginning in 2012, World Children’s Fund made a commitment to support on-going monthly operational costs at the school, as well as funding desperately needed upgrades to the school’s campus and infrastructure. Prior to the WCF partnership, the school owned by the Little Sisters of Saint Francis, was in dire need of a humanitarian aid partner. Administrators struggled with limited funds to feed, shelter and educate the students who would have no other place to go if the school was closed.
“To me, the words ‘thank you’ come first when I think of WCF. We have been able to push on, despite all the challenges. Thank you for loving us and being here for us.”Sister Clare, WCF school administrator
Generous World Children’s Fund supporters like you, have made it possible to pay staff salaries, provide nutritional meals for the children and teachers and carry out an ambitious expansion of the school, including four new buildings; classrooms, a new dining hall, and two new dormitory buildings, one for boys and one for girls. The new, hygienic cooking facility replaced a small, wood frame shack with tin siding. The addition of the new dining hall has also provided students with a gathering area. They no longer have to sit outside on the ground enduring direct sun or rain. Dormitory buildings feature new beds with mattresses and mosquito netting, replacing triple stacked bunks with no bedding. The upgrades added proper bathroom facilities, and the classrooms are equipped with single student desks, a requirement for the Uganda National Examination Board. The school now has computer and biology laboratory equipment. Students have textbooks and school supplies, and teachers have proper instructional materials. The school has also been able to hire a staff nurse, and the on-going financial support from WCF provides the clinic with medications and medical supplies. Now, when students become ill, they can be treated on campus.
Akello Jacqueline, is one student who found hope and safety at the World Children’s Fund Mama Kevina School.
Her story is similar to many children who grow up in countries with histories of civil unrest and savagery. As a young girl, while living with her family in the Lira district, in northern Uganda, rebels raided their village and killed her father. Her remaining family fled to an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Alero, located in the Gulu district, where they lived for two years. Rebels came into the settlement area and the family endured another attack. Akello was sexually assaulted. Her mother was raped and killed. She and her one surviving older brother escaped and relocated again in northern Uganda, where he was killed the following year. Akello was taken in by a Good Samaritan, who connected Akello with the World Children’s Fund Mama Kevina School.
Like Akello, all of our WCF students who live, learn and thrive at the school receive an outstanding education, a safe place to call home, daily meals, clothing and basic necessities.
“It has been an honor for World Children’s Fund to partner and create opportunity and restoration for these children,” says Ruth Kendrick, International Vice-President of World Children’s Fund. Ruth counts the WCF school among her favorite stops in Uganda. On arrival, she says the children always greet the WCF team with singing, dancing and many words of thanks.
“It’s magic to witness their joy, especially when you realize these kids have already endured more challenges than many of us will face in our lifetimes.”Ruth Lam Kendrick, WCF International VP
The school campus, located near the town of Tororo in eastern Uganda, sits on about five acres of grassland in a rural area. The campus is tidy and clean. Students work diligently to maintain and beautify their surroundings. There isn’t litter or rubbish strewn around the campus. Instead, you see signs posted in the lawn encouraging students to do things like “Be Punctual,” Be Polite,” and “Love Books.”
The students are known for being eager to learn. They are always engaged in each classroom, conducting experiments in chemistry labs, tackling difficult math equations, studying physics and English and preparing for their national exams. The school has received national recognition in Uganda, being named one of the top schools in its district. Outside of the classroom, in the afternoons, girls play netball, boys challenge each other in football and students work together in the school’s garden. The students also love participating in dancing, drama and debate.
“Because I am passionate about education, I am most proud of the way that WCF supports education in its projects,” says Lynne, a WCF donor liaison based in the UK office. “Education gives children the skills to be self-sufficient, to view and assess the world around them, to be part of the wider community and to be the builders of their communities and their country’s future.”
The WCF Mama Kevina School embraces a holistic educational approach. The curriculum reaches beyond academics. Students are encouraged to understand themselves, develop healthy relationships and adopt positive social and emotional coping skills in an effort to prepare them to navigate the challenges of life, as well as the traumas many of them have already confronted.
Three times each day, students assemble and stand in line in anticipation of their daily meals. They all arrive with their own plate and cup in hand, which they are responsible for washing after each meal. Often, they eat Chapati, a flour-based product that looks like a tortilla. It is served with rice. They laugh and talk among themselves.
When they tell us their stories, with tears dripping from their eyes, we truly understand these are not your typical secondary school students.
We are grateful for every donor who is partnering with us to provide these formerly forgotten children with an excellent education and a safe and loving environment. This programme is saving adolescents from child labor, early marriage and exploitation. The students at the WCF Mama Kevina Secondary School are walking a pathway of hope.
“Thank you for standing with us. For sustaining us. It has been tough, with some sleepless nights. We are grateful for your consideration and kindness to us. Thank your team and all the WCF supporters. Thank you for loving us. God bless you for your big heart for us,”Sister Clare, WCF School Administrator