For many who now have a sponsored child, you may have questions specific to your child and his/her information. I have tried to list some questions I presume may be frequently asked and provide answers for you.
Why does my child not have a birthday listed? While dates, including birthdates, are extremely important here in America, most Africans give little attention to time including details such as dates. Birthdays are also not celebrated or recognized in any way for most. Most children do not know their birthdays, neither do their parents. Frequently even confirming the correct year of birth is difficult. For example a child may state he is 7 years old and born in 2009. Obviously one of these two statements is false. Furthermore, if there is documentation such as a birth certificate or other identification, the date was likely made up.
My child appears to be in a school uniform in the photo. If he was already in school, does he still need my help? Yes! Your child needs you! Some students were sponsored to attend school in 2013 by Love Alive International, but were not matched with a specific sponsor. Others may have been admitted to school on the understanding that their fees would be paid at a later date; however, when the fees are unpaid, the child is removed from school. Finally, some students have come to us specifically with a specific need or situation warranting their need for help. Never doubt that your sponsored student needs you and is greatly blessed by your support.
Some of the students are young, but I also notice that many are older teens. Why do older students still need sponsorship? Very young children are the first to find sponsors. They are adorable, innocent and helpless, and their need for help is easily understood. Sometimes it is not as easy to see that inside older students are the same children needing our help. They are still coming from rural villages where their families survive off of their family gardens, money for school fees is difficult to accrue, and this child still has no means of self-support. Education is still vital to her future and the potential of overcoming the cycle of poverty. One reason that it is vital to support older students is that they are so very close to the end of their secondary education. They have come too close to attaining that level of education to quit now. If a student is able to perform very well in lower secondary school, she can be offered a placement in a quality school for upper secondary. If a student is again able to excel in upper secondary school, the government often will award scholarships to such students.
My student is 15 and only in fifth grade, why? Does this mean he is unlikely to succeed? While a student so much older than his grade level is almost unheard of in the USA, it is rather common in Rwanda. The reasons for this are various. Factors include poverty (inability to pay for school fees, uniform and supplies), family needs (children often work for the family fetching water, sticks for fire, cooking and washing for the family, tending the animals, or, in some cases, are sent to work for other families to provide income for the family), illness, or major changes in family systems (death of a parent, lack of food meaning a child is sent to live with another relative, thus leaving his school). All of these factors, prevalent throughout third-world countries, impact many students; thus it is not at all uncommon for children of widely-varied ages to be together in one classroom.
How can I contact my sponsored child? You are welcome to email a message, family photos, and even request an update on your student at email@example.com. Emailing provides a free way to communicate. There is no residential mail-delivery system in Rwanda, and at this time we do not have a specific post office for student sponsorship mail. I will personally deliver any emails and also see that your sponsored child communicates with you as well.
What exactly does my $35 sponsorship cover? With the gift of your sponsorship, your sponsored student will be provided a uniform, school fees, and all necessary school supplies (usually consisting of various paper notebooks, pens, pencils and math tools). Occasionally, when a particular school’s fees are lower than budgeted, we are able to provide classroom resources such as a soccer ball, flashcards, classroom decorations or other materials that will enhance the learning experience of our students.
What else can I do for my sponsored student? Please pray for your child. You will be considered a part of their family by them. If you send a photo, it will be hung on their wall. They will tell others about their American family who loves them. You give them the pride and joy of being cared about. If you ever have any questions about your sponsored student, you are always welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, via the website lovealiveinternational.com or via our Facebook page Love Alive International.