Uganda is a very poor country with a fast-growing population - 40 million by the most recent estimate. More than half the population are under the age of 15, which is why there is such a great need for aid to children.
Uganda’s history has been marked by long periods of ethnic conflict. In the north of the country, there has been a long-running rebellion against the Government led by Joseph Kony and the Lords Day Resistance Army. This conflict has resulted in many deaths, abductions of children, human rights abuses and the displacement of huge numbers of people.
There are also many major health challenges, notably HIV infection risks, which have resulted in many Ugandan children losing one or both parents.
After the age of 10 years, adolescent boys and girls, especially those whose families are poor, face the risk of being sent to work instead of attending school. Many will marry off their daughters as part of their survival mechanisms. There is a very high prevalence of child marriage, despite it being illegal, with 10% of girls being married by age 15, and 40% by age 18.
In the past 10 years, there has been an enormous and unregulated growth in the number of children’s facilities to offer help to these children. Some reports suggest that Uganda had perhaps 35 children’s homes during the mid-1990's, but since then the numbers have grown steadily and the increase appears to have accelerated in the past 5-10 years. The Commissioner for Child and Youth Affairs estimates that there are now more than 600 children’s residential facilities in Uganda.
Many of these ‘orphanages’ and children’s homes were started by churches and other faith based organizations. To clarify the term orphan, in 2015, worldwide, there were 140 million orphans. This number reflects UNICEF’s definition of an orphan as any person under the age of 18 who has lost one or both of their parents due to death from any cause. Double orphans are those who have lost both parents and makeup 15.1 million of those children. So the vast majority of orphans are single orphans, living with a surviving parent, grandparent, or other family member.
While the government of Uganda seeks to prevent separation from family wherever possible, the desire of families to get a good education for their children, and the difficulties poor families face in meeting school costs are undermining traditions of community responsibility and kinship care for children. With each child’s best interest in mind, the goal of family reunification remains a top priority for both the Ugandan government and many faith based organizations.
Orphanages in America have gone extinct entirely. Traditional orphanages in the United States began closing following World War II, as it was thought that children would do better placed in homes with personalized care and individual attention rather than in institutions.
While the government of Uganda is seeking to close down many of these child care institutions, the Ministry of Education and Sports has issued the following statement welcoming the formation of private schools:
“The Government of Uganda recognises the important role being played by the Private Sector in providing education to citizens of this country. On its own the government could not be able to meet the challenge of providing education to the large and increasing number of school-going age children ... The Private sector is therefore encouraged to play its role effectively and efficiently to supplement government’s efforts of availing education to all.”
Providing quality education to all children is the mission of Star Campus Junior School which was started on January 30, 2013 by Mr. Kolobe Antony, the proprietor and current director.
So many children in his community were not attending school because their families were not able to pay the school fees. And those who were able to attend the local government schools were getting substandard education due to frequent teacher strikes. With a background in primary education, Antony had a desire to start a small private Christian school to provide the children with a quality education.
Temporary structures made of poles, timber and a grass thatched roof were the first school buildings. There was a temporary pit latrine and benches had to be borrowed from the church for children to sit on.
The school started with only eight children. Unfortunately, the parents of these children were not able to pay the fees, which were only 30,000 shillings or $8.00 per term.
The temporary structures were no match for the heavy rain and the wind. One morning the students returned to the school to find that the buildings had been destroyed. The children and the staff spent the whole day removing the grass and poles which had collapsed onto the benches.
The next day people came to help rebuild the temporary structures. One man donated old iron sheets for roofing instead of grass. An elderly woman donated old bricks for constructing a semi–permanent pit latrine.
Antony also discovered that many of the children in the community were not getting much of anything to eat at home. He started praying and asking God what He would have him do to help these children.
God revealed that He would meet all the children’s needs - education, food, clothing and shelter. And God told Antony that He would use His own people to support His own children.
Antony’s mission was to share the needs with God’s people. He sought the help of a friend who set up a Facebook page for the school and he started posting the needs with his phone.
Local people began visiting with food and books. Some brought beans and yams. Others provided blackboards and cooking pots. Eventually a cook and caretaker were hired, and more teachers joined the school.
In 2016, friends joined in the mission from America and England. In 2017 one supporter funded the construction of an improved ventilated pit latrine. Then in 2018, an online campaign was started by a Facebook friend in the US and $10,000 was raised to build the beautiful new school building. Further campaigns raised money for desks, solar power, two computers, and the start of a small library for the children.
There are now 105 students attending Star Campus Junior School. The first four graduates are attending the area high school, St Daniel Comboni School, with nine more joining them for the 2020 term. The school is rated very highly, in fact, here is an article describing it as one of the best, if not the best, secondary school in Uganda! (Read Article)
It is our desire that every child gets the opportunity to complete their education through secondary school. The Eric La Rosa Memorial Foundation’s Sponsorship Program is making that dream a reality for these dedicated scholars.
Star Campus Junior School is a fully licensed Primary School, and will now seek licensing for the Star Campus Boarding School. Dormitories are being constructed for those who can not attend as day students due to the distance from their families and those who have no safe home to return to.
Many of the families allowed their children to leave home in the hopes of getting an education and being fed, so now with those needs met, many children can be raised in a family environment rather than an institutional upbringing.
Developing a feeding program to provide adequate food on weekends and during school breaks for the children and their families will be among our long-term family support measures, along with programs to help those families provide for themselves.
As God has been faithful to provide thus far, we trust He will continue His provision.
May God bless all who have joined in this mission. You truly are TRANSFORMING LIVES THROUGH LOVE.
From a pile of donated bricks to a completed school building, 2018 has been a year of God's faithful provision for Star Campus Junior School!
Every step of the way, we learned the valuable lesson of trusting in God alone for the strength and the resources to get the job done.
In just six months, the building was complete and enough funds were raised to provide desks for the classrooms.
It's like a dream come true! Star Campus Junior School has electricity for the first time ever!
A BIG THANK YOU to Eric LaRosa Memorial Foundation Board Secretary, BARBARA MENZEL, who donated the funds to bring power to the Star Campus Junior School!
There are a total of three panels, two shown here on the back of the building, and one on the front. The panels are expected to collect 360 watts of power, which will be stored in batteries.
And we have provided two computers for the students to be able to connect to the world and join the 21st Century of technology.
The Literary Ladies Book Club in Sussex County, New Jersey, planned a wonderful surprise for Christmas 2018 for the students at Star Campus Junior School in rural Uganda.
Since the school was recently built, there was not yet a supply of reading material for the children. Knowing the value of reading, the women chose to donate the funds they usually use for their yearly outing and start a library at Star Campus Junior School.
While the students were on a school break, the director contracted with a local carpenter to build these beautiful bookshelves and then went to town and purchased the books. Although the school has a great need for their scholars' textbooks, we chose to provide books which the children could read on their own to develop the love of reading which will benefit them for a lifetime.
What a surprise it was on Christmas day! After the children enjoyed their special meal, provided by funds from our generous donors, they were brought to the school and surprised with the gift of books!
We can sometimes take for granted such a simple thing, like a child reading a story book. But for these children this is a HUGE treat!
Through generous donations, we can expand their library with books which will expand their love of reading and their joy of learning.
Copyright © 2019 Eric LaRosa Memorial Foundation - All Rights Reserved. We are a 501(C)(3) Public Charity, Incorporated in the State of New Jersey effective December 19, 2018. The Eric LaRosa Memorial Foundation shall have control and discretion as to the use of all contributions received. REVENUE RULING 66-79 IRS 1966-1 C.B. 48; 63-252, C.B. 1963-2, 101.
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