It’s another muggy predawn on the equator, as children young as six trudge miles down the dusty dirt roads from their local villages and mud huts to the Central Region Ugandan municipality of Nkokonjeru.
The children make this daily trek so they can attend one of the schools in town. Even discounting the trucks and mini-buses flying by in the pitch dark, it’s still a major challenge.
A large number of children, orphaned by HIV/AIDS, are cared for by relatives, straining family budgets past the breaking point.Gender challenges, child labor, early marriage, a shortage of motivated teachers, a lack of parental awareness, and the grinding poverty makes the education of Ugandan youth an almost overwhelming proposition. Many children are forced to drop out of school before completing primary school, to say nothing of continuing on to secondary school.
The lack of education dragging Uganda down creates a vicious cycle on a country of 41 million, the youngest on the planet with a median age of 16.
Into the void came Little Angels Catholic Primary School in Nkokonjeru, founded by Margaret Nakirijja the same year UPE was put in place. Starting with a handful of students and a few walls, with the goal of providing an “excellent Catholic and affordable primary school” education, Little Angels has been a shining light in the darkness.
Officially affiliated with the Lugazi Diocese and guided by the Department of Catholic Schools in Uganda, Little Angels has grown to 559 students, about equally divided between boys and girls, from grades K3 to P7.
In relationship with CARITAS For Children and with a growing number of caritas-family sponsors, the school and students are thriving. The school is highly ranked on annual national exams and as many as 96% of the students continue on to secondary school, many to St. Peter's Secondary School; one of the Catholic Parish schools in Nkokonjeru.
According to Madam Margaret, CARITAS has been an invaluable program for Little Angels.
Through the ongoing one-on-one relationship between a sponsor and child, the gift of education and consistent daily nutrition makes it possible for orphans and other vulnerable children to maximize their potential.
With continuing and consistent sponsorship donations, Little Angels is growing and raising the standard of living for the children, their families, and the surrounding area. The children carry this foundational experience of caritas-love and compassion with them for the rest of their lives, eventually serving and helping grow their Ugandan communities in this same spirit.
In the United States, our families, workplaces and parishes become more merciful, compassionate and loving as sponsors’ hearts are filled with caritas love. Sponsors, often with their own young children, form a lifetime bond with their sponsored child. As a sponsor’s children come of age, their hearts and worldview are deeply enriched by this unique experience of God’s love.
Through this one-on-one relationship, faith comes vividly alive as we discover a new clarity of purpose within God’s plan.
Margaret is enthused and encouraged by the long-range outlook for Little Angels. She is committed to building “more classrooms, a new latrine, boarding dormitories, and teachers’ quarters”.
Margaret says, “I have bought land across the road so that when I have sufficient funds we can start building and expanding” and added, “I would also like to start a relationship with a local computer lab so our students can start to learn computer skills."
Little Angels motto of “We are the Future of Tomorrow” is being played out, each and every day, through the joyous faces of the children, being loved and educated through a Caritas heart.
If you’d like to help make a difference, one child at a time, please check us out. http://caritas.us/what-we-do/child-sponsorship.