Guardians bring vulnerable children to the MCM supporting church pastor. MCM board members along with the pastor vett the guardian’s story to determine accuracy. After the child’s situation is ensured, the MCM director places them on our waiting list prioritized by neediness. When a place becomes available on the MCM website children are moved there, again based on urgency of need, for potential sponsors to choose.
The primary criteria we look at are these:
Can this child’s guardian provide for their food, shelter, medical care and education? In most cases, the child has lost one or both parents to death or abandonment.
Will this child work and study hard and do all they can do to get an education and fulfill their commitments? We are committed to fostering empowerment, not long-term dependence.
Children’s claims of guardian abuse – these children come to us for help alone.
Sudden unexpected changes in child’s home life (ie death of guardian, divorce, abandonment, alcohol abuse, primary guardian release from or admission into prison, guardian mental status change, or child labor violations)
How should I choose a child to sponsor?
Let your heart lead: your relationship with this child, developed through letter-writing, will offer deep emotional support to them knowing that you love and believe in them. So choose a child who inspires your love.
Some potential sponsors will ask Michele or Ivan the directors of MCM to choose for them. Often their decision is based on how long a child has waited on the MCM website to be chosen. Some kids wait over a year and see others chosen before them.
How old are kids when sponsorship begins?
MCM supports children of all ages from 3 months to 25 years old
One goal of sponsorship is to ensure that these children get an education that will give them the best possible foundation for their futures. Therefore most children start MCM in primary school. However MCM will also take promising students who are near the end of their secondary schooling. We know that going to university or trade school can make a tremendous difference in their lives.
It is rare to see babies on program but urgent need for food or medical care has prompted us to support these little ones. Although they cannot write letters, we have had sponsors step up and request to sponsor them anyway anticipating future letters.
For how long does a child get sponsored?
Once we have made a commitment to a child, we ensure that they are provided for through secondary school, whether O-level or A-level.
MCM will continue to assist with post-secondary education for students who have demonstrated their willingness to work and study hard, taking advantage of the education provided.
MCM offers University Scholarships. Appropriate students are selected by our Education Committee based on academic achievement, leadership in school and church, essay responses and personal interviews.
The transition from schooling to adulthood is challenging in any culture, and MCM does its best to ensure that our kids make that transition successfully. Sponsors are notified a few months before their student has completed their program and encouraged to write a final congratulatory letter. Students are asked to write a final letter as well.
Some sponsors who have children in the trade schools want to purchase their child a graduation gift of tools or a sewing machine or give a monetary gift. These help students get a hand up in the job world.
Some sponsors want to continue their relationship with the students following the end of the MCM program. This happens primarily on social media, email and FaceBook. We discourage sponsors from supporting the graduated adult financially. We seek to create a spirit of independence and self esteem through individual ingenuity, hard work and adulting.
How is my child’s situation and progress monitored?
Our Uganda director, Ivan, lives in the village of Butekumwa, centrally located within our service area. He is the eyes and ears of MCM.
Ivan sees the children once a month at our Bible study, collects and reviews report cards three times a year, and is available in MCM offices or at home daily. Children find him very approachable.
Annually each child is interviewed by Ivan or Michele or both to reassess their current family and school placement situation. Their school reports for that year are also reviewed with the child and guardian.
If there are issues with the child’s school performance, it may be addressed through tutoring, coaching and/or change of school placement.
If a family situation changes, additional intervention will be required.
What has MCM done for the emotional needs of these children who have suffered loss of one or both parents, abuse, lack of nutrition, abandonment and all the other debilitating conditions that have made them eligible for the MCM program?
In 2017 MCM began to invite speakers to educate our children in personal awareness.
In 2018 professional counselors were transported into the village from the capital city Kampala to hold individual therapy sessions for each child age 12 and above.
MCM has prioritized counseling twice a year and required our children to develop a relationship with one of the professional counselors since then. We have had multiple occasions to encourage our children to talk about their feelings and develop tools with their counselors to grow in handling these losses in real life.
What is MCM doing to promote equality of women in the patriarchal country of Uganda
MCM has had women on it’s Ugandan and American Boards since inception in 2013
MCM has proactively looked at our girls as being additionally vulnerable and therefore has always had more girls than boys in our sponsorship program.
MCM has a re-entry program into vocational school for any of our pregnant teens who had to take time off from school as required by the Ministry of Education of Uganda.
How does MCM prepare girls for teenage development and healthcare
On multiple occasions MCM has invited women counselors to educate our children about female and male health and development, their bodies, their choices and permanent consequences, the sacredness of sexuality and the dangers of STD’s.
Why do I need to write letters to my child?
Your relationship to your sponsored child is of utmost importance in bringing hope and change in their lives. Your care for them is established through communication that you know, love and care for them personally and specially. Your letters really matter!
Your child will treasure your letters and turn to them for encouragement when times are hard.
How often will I be expected to write a letter to my child?
Your child is required to write to you three times per year.
Because of the importance of your letter to your child, MCM requires sponsors to write their children twice a year, with a third letter optional.
If you would like to write your child at other times, you may do so.
How do I send my letter?
Due to the cost and time it takes to send physical letters, MCM has transitioned to all-digital letters with the exception of sponsors who do not use computers. In these cases handwritten letters should be sent to Michele via USPS.
Our preference is that you create your letter and save it to PDF format, and then email it to Michele. Handwriting then scanning are more personal especially for young children who write, but typing is also great.
Michele will send all the letters in PDF format to Ivan, who will bring them to a local printer to prepare them for distribution to the children. This not only saves time and money, but supports the local economy.
Can I send a photo to my child?
YES, please do! Our children treasure photos of their sponsors and extended sponsor families. You and your family become their family!
The best way to do this is to insert a photo into your letter so that it is printed as part of your letter.
Be sure that those in the photo are dressed with appropriate modesty (e.g., avoid beach attire).
Can I send a gift to my child?
Unfortunately the cost and time of shipping makes sending a gift not feasible.
Providing a physical gift can also cause children who don’t receive a gift to feel left out.
Instead, we invite you to make an additional contribution to our annual birthday party or Christmas party, where all children benefit equally.
What should I write about?
Communicate the unconditional love that a parent should have for their child. This is how our heavenly Father loves them. Although you may offer some wise advice, your role is not to preach or judge.
Our children attend Bible study at least monthly. Encourage your child’s faith and relationship to God. You can share a favorite Bible verse, especially as relevant to the circumstances of your child’s life. Your spiritual encouragement is more powerful than you can know.
Respond to what they have written to you with compassion and encouragement. Be specific so they can feel uniquely known and loved.
Encourage their educational activities, as this is so important to their future.
Write about things your sponsored child will understand, such as family, pets, hobbies and activities. They want to know you, too, and your family becomes their extended family. Please avoid discussing material possessions which tend to emphasize differences.
Emphasize things you have in common. As time goes on you will discover shared interests, perhaps a favorite school subject or a love of music. Because of your significance in the life of the child you sponsor, these common interests will enhance the child’s self esteem.
Do not include work or home addresses for reasons of privacy.
How long should the letter be?
There is no specific length required.
Your child worked hard on their letter, written in English which is not their first language. Your letter should reflect your genuine interest in them and their wellbeing.
Be sure to respond to what they have written to you, and let them know a bit about what has been going on with you and your family since your last letter.
How are donations used?
All sponsorship donations (to sponsor a child $50/month or $600/year) are used for MCM sponsorship costs. These include education fees, uniforms and shoes, school supplies, boarding, pocket money for boarders, medical care costs, and administration costs.
Other donations are used for self sustainability programs, approved construction costs, unforeseen costs (like COVID food relief or children’s homes collapsing), development of our community (library books, computers, help to local vocational schools, guardian medical care, vocational school for pregnant teens, solar power or new water sources etc)
Some special designated gifts are to sponsored families (goats, cows, pigs, etc).
MCM – USA also has administrative costs of office supplies, postage, accounting, quickbooks, website development and some travel expenses. At this time (March 2021) MCM USA has no paid staff. The printing costs for our only fundraiser is donated.
Can donations be designated for a specific use?
Although this has been done in the past because of unusual circumstances like a home collapsing we discourage specific designations and hope our donors trust us to use their gifts wisely. A full accounting of every shilling spent in Uganda and every dollar in the USA is available for review by anyone interested.
Ugandan Education System
How is the Ugandan school system structured?
Nursery school: Baby class, Middle class and Top class are for 3,4 and 5 year olds with Top Class comparable to US Kindergarten.
Primary school: Primary One through Primary Seven (P1 – P7) are comparable to US grades 1 – 7. Primary Seven culminates with the P.L.E. (Primary Leaving Exam) which determines secondary school admittance.
Secondary school sometimes called “college” (Ordinary level and A-level):
Ordinary or “O-level” – Senior One through Senior Four (S1 – S4) are comparable to US high school grades 9 – 12. Senior 1 – Senior 4 years culminate with the U.C.E. (Ugandan Certificate of Education) exam determining advancement to A-level or vocational school.
Advanced or “A-level” – Senior Five through Senior Six (S5 – S6) are comparable to US community college or college prep program. These years culminate in the U.A.C.E. (Ugandan Advanced Certificate of Education) determining advancement to university or vocational school.
University is the same as US university or college except most degrees are achieved in three years not four because of the A level prep time. This includes their internship.
Vocational school is similar to US trade schools, costs the same as University and also is usually completed in 3 years with an internship.
How old are kids when they complete secondary school?
It depends on the age the student was when they started school. Many of our students did not start school “on time” because their family did not have sufficient funds to pay for school. Although government public schools are free of tuition, students are not allowed to attend unless they have a uniform, shoes, exam fees and additional fees for the building maintenance and security guards. Students also need to supply materials like toilet paper, reams of white paper, sugar, pens, pencils, exam books etc
Also students’ ages vary widely within each grade because they are passed to the next level based on sufficient mastery of the material, not age. Many students repeat grades.
Consistency of attendance affects rate of progression.
Age at graduation will also be affected by whether or not the student continues to A-level, vocational school or university.
What is the Ugandan academic calendar?
The following information reflects the normal Ugandan school year. However in 2020 the COVID pandemic which shut down schools for over a year temporarily changed this schedule. It is hoped to be resumed by 2023.
The Ugandan school year begins in February and ends in December.
There are three 12-week terms:
February – April, with 2-3 week holiday in May
May – August, with 2-3 week holiday in August
September – November, 7-8 week holiday December – January.
What is the typical Ugandan school day?
The day students attend school Monday through Friday, 7am until 6pm.
For candidate students taking examinations Saturday “preps” can last all day as well.
Boarding students stay at school the entire school term and break for holidays. Their school days are different than day students and unique to each boarding school.
How does MCM decide to place a child in local “day” vs. boarding school?
Ivan and Michele consider this question for each sponsored child.
In some cases, a boarding school may provide the specialized resources needed by a child with a specific deficit.
MCM does not send children younger than 10 years old to a boarding school.
In many cases, if a child is burdened at home with chores and responsibilities from immediately after school until evening, boarding school provides a place where the child will have time to study and can flourish educationally.
What costs are associated with school?
Private schools charge tuition for their students, where public schools do not.
School uniforms and shoes are always required and must be provided by the student.
Other school fees are charged by both public and private schools for building maintenance, security guards, and exam fees. Materials such as toilet paper, reams of white paper, exam booklets and sugar, pens, pencils, notebooks, files, and backpacks are all the responsibility of the student.
Children are literally chased from school for lack of these requirements. If every material and extra fee has not been collected by the school the child will not receive their progress reports necessary to move forward to the next level of school.