Hilary reports on her visit to sponsored students

UHST supporters are now providing scholarships for 66 students at Isaac Newton High and 63 at Mustard SeedSchool. On our most recent visit to the schools I was able to address all the sponsored students and to chat to many individually. I was delighted to see how happy they are with the opportunity their sponsors are providing them. To obtain more information we asked each student to complete a short form with their age, details of their home situation, their favourite subjects, extra-curricular activities, what they liked about their school and any improvements they would like to see. The information on these forms helped me to update sponsors and correct some incorrect information we had recorded previously.

We are most gratified by the number of students who liked their teachers and the improved infrastructure we have been able to provide and we have taken note of requests for more books, science equipment, computers and other resources.

As we expected, the students we sponsor come from difficult home backgrounds. Many of them have only one parent (single orphans) and some have no surviving parents (double orphans). In most cases they come from homes with no electricity or running water. Day students have many chores to cope with and walk long distances to fetch water in containers that I can hardly lift when full of water. At both schools we were able to visit the homes of students living nearby and were introduced to their parents or guardians.

typical housestudent and grandmother

The pictures show a typical house near the Mustard Seed School (note the water container) and one of our sponsored students with his grandmother.

At Isaac Newton High School we met Leticia and her grandmother (pictured) who lives about 20 minutes’ walk from the school. Leticia’s parents both died of HIV/AIDS and her grandmother, who is in her 90s, cares for her and her two primary school aged brothers, one of whom is deaf. The family are subsistence farmers who have a very small income from selling surplus food crops.

letitiagrandmotherStudents who are able to board have a distinct advantage as they have light to study by at night, water is on site and it is easier to take part in activities in the evenings or weekends such as sports, scouting, music and dancing. Orphan girls, in particular, benefit as their personal safety is greater when they can sleep in the school hostel and avoid the dangers they encounter during their lives in the local community and walking to and from school. They greatly appreciate the generosity of their sponsors in funding their boarding in the new school hostels, where they live in small supportive groups.

Professor Hilary Hurd
Scholarships Manager, UHST