Sponsor a Child! Program

The idea of supporting children in Bamako goes back to and our personal experience 2012. Andrea Morris was then teaching in the Sanfil slum of Bamako, where like in many slums there was no public school. 

The children living there could only attend school if someone could pay the modest fees charged by the local private school. Saddened by how many children were dropping out of school due to tuition fees, Andrea set up the child support programme. Since 2022, the Foundation is present not only in Mali, but in Rwanda too. 

The point of the programme is not to give money, but to pay tuition fees to those in need. The children sponsored are also able and hard-working, and are selected on the recommendation of a teacher based on demonstrated performance. Partner schools send regular report cards about the children in the programme and report on their progress. Representatives of the Foundation visit the beneficiary countries at least annually and follow up with the children's families to ensure that the support continues to be put to good use. The visits to these sites are connected with several different new school development programmes.

Experience over the past eight years has shown that the greatest gift for children is knowing that someone believes in them and shows them the value of learning. It gives them a chance to rise out of and improve their difficult environment.  

Over the past eight years, more than 250 children have been sent to school through the programme. Many of them have proceeded to secondary school and five of them are now university students – we do not let go of these children's during these high school and university students but continue to support and guide them. They receive a grant which they can then spend on their own to buy school supplies and any school fees they need.  

From your monthly financial support of HUF 5000, we cover the child's meals, insurance, uniform, and school supplies. In addition to that, we are looking for possible solutions to enable students to study from home as well. As part of our „Fény a tanuláshoz” program, we are looking to provide solar-powered lighting in areas with no electricity coverage. 

Mali - Sponsor a Child! Program

In Mali, three out of ten children never get to school - either because there is no school nearby or because they need to work at home. 70% of the adult population is illiterate or functionally illiterate. 

The country is facing serious political and economic problems as much of its territory is now inaccessible due to a conflict that is seeing the state's presence shrinking and diminishing. The persistent difficulties of the public education sector are demonstrated by the small number of state schools, the class sizes of 150-200, and teacher strikes that often last for months.  

Where there is no public education, the population tends to initiate and maintain schools in a self-organised way, either by itself or with the help of external donors. The impoverished private schools organised this way take many decades to develop from taking lessons in the shade of a large tree to a functional building with several classrooms.  

We currently have two partner schools in Mali, both of which we are continuously contributing to the construction of through our school improvement projects. We offer support to children who are the most financially deprived and talented students from these two schools. 

Chérifoula School, Bamako

This impoverished private school was founded in 2003 on the initiative of parents from the Sansfil slum in Bamako. In this area, the state was unable to provide schools for the rapidly growing population. The school was built on the edge of a slum, on the garbage-strewn marshland – quite often it could only be reached on foot, via a boardwalk across the marshy area. This is the school where Andrea Morris, the founder of the Close to Africa Foundation, taught English and where the idea of supporting children in Bamako was conceived over a decade ago. More than 200 young children in the Sanfil district have already reached and benefited from basic education through our Hungarian patrons.

Chérifoula: past and present

School of Winners

This school is located in the bush near Bamako, where there is neither electricity nor running water. On our first visit, the impoverished private school looked more like a building site with children running around the first floor in corridors lacking essential safety handrails (the school even lacked toilets!) Today, the school has improved a lot thanks in part to Hungarian support. Currently, the tuition of 30 children at the school are paid by Hungarian donors. Thanks to improvements in the recent years, there is now a computer room, a drilled well and toilets for the pupils.

School of Winners – past and present

Rwanda - Sponsor a Child! program

The beautiful country of Rwanda is known as the Switzerland of Africa, both because of its high altitude (above 1500m) and because it is a clean, orderly, well-regulated country with excellent public safety. 

The 1994 genocide in Rwanda left the country in ruins and in abject poverty, from which the central leadership has consciously modernised to the level of development it enjoys today. But such rapid progress cannot benefit everyone. While the capital is basking in the glow, farming families isolated in remote villages in the ‘land of a thousand hills’ often have no electricity or running water and frequently face food insecurity. Forced buyouts in the name of agricultural modernisation have reduced the area of land available to farmers, making it increasingly difficult for them to produce their own crops.  

Although education in Rwanda is nominally free, in reality parents have to pay for a number of compulsory costs, such as insurance, uniforms and lunch. Families in difficult circumstances also have problems buying school equipment and shoes (even just a pair of rubber shoes), which often leave their children out of school. With our child support programme, we want to help these families keep their children in school or get them back into school if they have been forced to leave. 

Children taking part in the Child Support Programme are referred by their teachers and parents, and are selected through family visits and personal interviews. Eligible students are all from poverty-stricken families: most of them live in huts without electricity or water, making it difficult for their children to study after school. Many of them walk for hours to school every day, where they are provided with a single meal. There are also schools where the parent community graciously provides food for children in need in exchange for the parent or child working in the school or on the farmlands managed by the school.

What do we support? 

We want to support the school, the community, especially the children of outstanding ability by seeking sponsors for selected students.  

A havi 5000.- Ft támogatásból a gyermek étkezését, biztosítását, egyenruháját és a tanszereket fizetjük. Ezen felül megoldást keresünk arra, hogy otthon is tudjanak tanulni a diákok. A Fény a tanuláshoz programunk keretében napelemmel működő világítást szeretnénk biztosítani ott, ahol nincs áramszolgáltatás. 

School of Nyanza

The 960-seat, well-equipped, 6-class high school has a library, computer room, canteen and student seating. The school is popular because it achieves good results.
There are 85 children whose parents simply cannot afford to pay the compulsory fees – 12 of these gifted students have been enrolled in our child support programme. 
Why support a bright high school student?
Because he/she has already shown that, despite the odds and difficulties, he/she can do well and loves to learn and improve. They have the chance to continue their education and thus help their environment to excel. We can trigger a positive cycle this way!
The school is impressive both in its ethos (working together for the all) and in its professionalism. We are happy to have found such professional a partner!

School of Nyanza

Our school in Kamana

In addition to E.S. Nyanza, our other partner school in Rwanda is G.S. Kamana, where our 'Support Learning' program is expanded this year. The school is located in southern Rwanda. A total of 1565 students study here, taught by 44 faculty members. The school building is relatively well-equipped, however, it is in need of renovation and/or improvements in some areas. Such examples include: the library (to improve its current state), roof renovation (some classrooms and teacher lounges don’t have proper roofs and they often get flooded), dealing with the lack of power outlets and power supplies in some rooms, building a fence around the school, the development of a sports field for PE classes and recreational activities, sports supplies, and need for more desks and benches. Overall, it is considered a great school, BUT EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY: with the help of the principal and our local volunteers (one of whom is a teacher), we were able to connect with children in the area who had dropped out of school (largely due to Covid-19) and were unable to continue their studies ever since. Most of these children are either orphaned or from a very moderate background, whose families can’t afford their school lunches, school supplies, and uniforms.

AKAGERA Kids

We took a different approach and gradually began to tame the children, offering them hygiene supplies and food. This is how we found out that the 8 children called themselves "Marines". The military connotation stems from their gang-like behaviour and the way they steal anything of value and then disappear into the wetlands most of the time immediately. Otherwise, although the members of the group were children between the ages of 7 and 11, they had a strictly uniform code of conduct and leadership structure. 

We tried to reintegrate all the members of the group back into the family they came from, except for one who had no relatives. He was eventually adopted by the family of one of the group members. 

 

n the 2022-2023 school year, the team, then called Akagera Kids, started to re-educate, with many challenges. The "marines" behaviour and bullying at school had to be gradually reduced, and the absence from school on market days during the first semester had a significant impact on results. 

 

Starting from November 2022, joint gaming sessions and life skills counseling took place every Sunday at Bosco’s, concluding with a shared lunch. This initiative was later expanded to include holiday periods, aimed at keeping the children occupied and united. By early 2023, a decision was made to involve the children’s families and caregivers even further, aiming for a comprehensive approach to the situation. 

As the idea gained traction, more people extended their support and donations to Akagera Kids. Now, there exists an opportunity to support these children in collaboration with the Middle Africa Foundation.