They are few and far between, and all are day schools. Orphans and impoverished children do better in a boarding school environment, and Bwindi Watoto is significantly better academically than the local, public primary school. In most cases, without a sponsor, an orphaned or poor child does not receive an education. At this time public secondary school does not exist.
Why do the sponsored children have to board at school?
There are several answers. First, many children’s homes are far away from schools. It can take one, two or many hours to walk each way to school.
Second, children who go home each night often do not return to school, especially if the family is poor or if only one parent is available; the family may want the child to help with other children or with farming, or they simply don’t have the time to bring them back to school.
Third, children perform better academically when living at school. They are on a regular routine, study is part of their day, and the environment encourages learning.
Finally, the children receive better nutrition at school than most would at home.
Is there anything else I can do to help?
Yes. Please look at the Other Needs page. There are many ideas available, large and small.
Can I visit my child?
Absolutely. In fact we can help with recommendations on a driver who is our friend and who will pick you up a the airport, drive you to Bwindi and stay with you there to help - and if you wish, take you to some of the other wonderful ecological sites in Uganda. We can also recommend places to stay, near the airport and in Bwindi. You may want to get a permit before you go so that you can trek to see the gorillas, and of course Eve will take you to meet the child you sponsor and show you around.
Will my child write me?
This is the hardest part of the sponsorship. There is no Internet available at Watoto or Comboni at this time, no opportunity to Skype, and although there is a cell tower in Bwindi, the Internet does not work half the time or more.
Remember, too, that English is not the native language, and although it is the national language, many primary school aged children have difficulty writing - or even speaking- in English. We will make sure you get school reports on your child, a new photo each year, and try to provide additional information as possible.
But also the expectations as sponsors may not reflect the realities of a small village thousands of miles away. We are used to children who have busy, rich lives: after school activities, fascinating projects, events, sports, vacations, museums. At Watoto, a child’s life is very simple and very routine. There are no computer games – no computers, no movies, vacations, outings, video games, skiing, swimming or virtually any of the other things most children we know have in their lives. Unfortunately, for many of them, the only news that tends to occur in their lives is that another parent or relative has died.
Sometimes sponsors hope for lots of communication from their child. Our concern is to make sure each one of you gets at least a little each year. Secondary school students will send sponsors a letter once or twice a year, and we are trying to set up a little more communication from the primary students. It is important to realize that what they have to write about to a sponsor is small, reflecting the quiet day-to-day quality of village and school life. Many have never even seen a photo of themselves. So while we know how important it is to get more communication to you, please understand that we do all we can. Part of our commitment to you is to keep as much information flowing to you as possible, through this website and through our Facebook page. (Click to visit)
Do the children get religious training? Did you pick Bishop Comboni for secondary school because it is Catholic?
Uganda is very much a Christian, and for the most part, Catholic country. In Bwindi there are Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical Churches. At Watoto, as in all schools, faith is an important focus, and bible studies are part of the curriculum. Children may, if they wish, attend evening fellowships and Sunday church services. Bishop Comboni was chosen for Watoto’s outstanding students solely on the basis of its academic standing as the district’s leading secondary school. While it is funded by the Catholic Church, it is non-denominational.
May I call you directly to ask questions?
To reach us by telephone, please call: Jim & Jan Tanis 928-204-1135 -or- Lorna Gladstone 312-316-7386