We've recently been asked about the funds we raise to send orphans to school so thought I'd add this for anyone else who is interested: Firstly let me say that although I talk about 'fees', this amount is actually called a Student Development Levy, and is set by each independent school. The Ministry of Education has told schools they must run themselves, therefore they must make their own decision on the Levy they want to charge their pupils, according to what their school's parent body agree to. Although a Levy is set, most of the parents cannot afford it and the schools accept whatever the parent can pay. This means the schools can do very little to upgrade themselves in and out of the classroom. In our community alone there are over 500 orphans that we know of. This figure we believe is higher. These children are being supported (marginally) by extended families or friends. The families themselves are mostly desitute themselves, so another mouth, or sometimes several mouths, to feed is almost an impossible task. To then send their own children to school becomes a bigger problem so many orphans are going without education, or just sent to school in the hope that the Headmaster won't send them home because of non-payment of fees. The abuse of orphans is becoming more and more apparent. This abuse does not always or only take the form of sex, but also within the home they are over-used with garden and house chores, often not receiving food until the rest of the family have been fed, therefore receiving very little food. A local school close to us has started an organisation called GEM (Girls Empowerment Movement) which was started after the extent of abuse was discovered. It was originally started for girls, but the abuse of boys is becoming more well known now, so it is going to incorporate boys as well. After Easter they will be holding their first camp for approx 28 girls where they will attempt to teach them 'life skills' for handling their situation. However, in the meantime we are attempting to get as many orphans to school and through their Primary education. This cost at the moment is approximately US$10-15, depending on the exchange rate used by each school. This is for one term. We are grateful for a sponsorship for one term, but would encourage people to consider a yearly sponsorship for a child so they would not have to drop out after only 3-4months learning. Recently a sponsor was able to send us over $5000 for fees and it was decided that for every orphan whose fees we paid we would pay fees for one school-going child in the home where the orphan was staying. In this way we are hoping that the guardians will be encouraged to 'release' the orphan to attend school with their own child. We shall see how it works. This decision was taken for just this sponsorship, though, because it was large enough. If somebody wants to sponsor one child then this would go to an orphan. So this then gets the child to school. Uniforms are not compulsory in a society as poor as we are living in here, but by having a uniform the child has more chance of feeling accepted and has something to wear to school! If sponsors wanted to give more than fees, an average uniform, costs $ 25, including a jersey (A uniform usually lasts a child until she has worn it out, often 2 years!). This does not include shoes, socks, hat or bag. Where ever possible we try to find these items in the 2nd hand clothes that are donated to us, but we don't often find many school shoes or hats. We are considering teaching some of the ladies in the Sewing Group here how to make uniforms so this will become an income for them as well as serving the community. (The sewing group is made up of 16 ladies (Widows and single mothers) who have AIDS and are on ARV medication). The two-fold advantage of paying the school fees is that the teachers at the school are entitled to a % of the total fee income. As the teachers are paid only $150 a month, which is almost impossible for them to live on, considering transport, etc. The teachers were recently on strike for increased salaries, but returned without any resolution to the problem because the Education Ministry does not have enough money. So the more fees that are paid, the better the school becomes as the teachers are happier.