Bill’s Blog | June 8, 2023
Have you ever thought, why am I here? What difference can I make in my short life? Life can be confusing sometimes, and we can all have setbacks, challenges and many blessings. As Forest Gump reminds us, “Life is like a box of chocolates,” and some we prefer and others, well, not so much. That is life. Giving helps us take our eyes off ourselves and redirect them to others. I think we all need this from time to time. Even better is to live a life of generosity.
Many of you may already have charitable hearts and regularly give to worthy causes. I commend you. Generous giving is a wonderful financial concept I encourage you to embrace. Something powerful happens to us when we give. We live beyond ourselves and show compassion. Oh, how the world needs more compassion. I often think I am not here for just myself and my family. Yes, both are important, and we should ensure they are well cared for to the best of our ability. But if you live in North America, we are ahead of 80% of the global population.
Indeed, many people are far worse off than me and need a helping hand. Do you ever have similar thoughts? Yes, there are risks when we give. Scammers are out there, and we must be wise and research before giving. Yes, over the years, I have thought the odd time that a charity or person was not the best choice for my giving. However, I have learned and stopped directing funds to that cause and found a more worthy candidate. Life is never about perfect; I often say, “Throw perfect under the bus as it does not exist in this world.” So, let me introduce you to worthy candidates who are making a big difference in a very impoverished district of Uganda.
I have known Richard and Sylvia Kent for over 18 years (local Ugandans). Richard and Sylvia have been vetted by several respected organizations who have visited Richard at the school in Kiboga, which they started about eight years ago. Both Richard and Sylvia came from impoverished and dysfunctional families. Yet, in both cases, they were rescued by caring family members and given the privilege of education. As a result, Richard received his teaching certificate in Uganda and started his teaching career in Kampala. However, over time Richard could not stop thinking about the thousands of children in his home district who would never break the poverty cycle without quality education.
My wife and I have walked with Richard and Sylvia for many years, as have several others. But, to be honest with you, it sometimes feels unachievable as there are so many needs. Things that the majority of Canadians never have to even think about. Poverty is not a pretty picture! In addition, most local parents cannot afford the small school fee, so the children come for free, which adds to the financial burden.
Nevertheless, the school provides a quality education with certified teachers using a government curriculum and a daily feeding program (Sylvia runs this with her team). They cook in open fire pits (no ovens or microwaves there!) Let alone running water or regular electricity or internet.
Many have contributed on and off to the school over the years; a couple of years ago, we helped them purchase two acres of land for Richard’s farming activity. Farming also provides work for the local townspeople, which helps lift the economy. Unfortunately, there are no irrigation systems, so they depend on the two rainy seasons. In addition, they have lost crops and fruit trees due to drought and other issues. Is it all hopeless? No, we are working hard with them towards self-sustainability for the school, one brink at a time, one new harvest at a time. Richard, Sylvia and the staff provide a loving environment to see hundreds of children possibly have a future with education and breaking the poverty cycle.
I have often said, “If it is all about me, then it will not happen!” The project requires many more hands and regular charitable donors. This year we have seen some fantastic progress. Classrooms for Africa raised funds, and they just built a new three-classroom building. We also had a very generous donor this year, and Richard started building six brick dorms for the teachers, so they can reduce the costs of renting rooms for the teachers. The school still needs a well-drilled and expansion of farming activity to sell some of their crops to subsidize the operation costs. Richard often struggles to pay the teachers consistently (this has been a severe issue, and teachers have left). The school has no government funding.
I could share so much more, but please look at the school website (donated by a local Chilliwack web designer). www.ctjsuganda.com, and you will discover the school’s vision and commitment to Kiboga, Uganda.
We have a Canadian Board (I am the chairperson) and a local Uganda board to ensure the funds go to the proper place, and we provide guidance. The three significant needs are ongoing operational costs: teacher and staff salaries, subsidizing food for the children (they often run short of food supplies while waiting for the next crop), medical supplies, etc. Two, farming funds to purchase seeds, fruit trees, fertilizer and pesticides. These needs are ongoing due to two growing seasons. Three, the need to fund more significant projects like a water well (5K US) or a new school building (25K US approximately). Animals to provide milk for the children. If you want to donate to a larger project, please specify, and you will receive a charitable receipt.
We have three funding options, and two provide charitable receipts:
Classrooms for Africa: Charitable Receipt available if you contribute to helping build another school building. Two more school buildings are required to meet the community’s needs.
CAF Canada: Charitable receipts for $500 donations or larger gifts are available. Approved projects include finishing teacher dorms, farming projects (multiple crops: beans, potatoes, peanuts (ground nuts), cassava, fruit trees, cows or goats for milk, and other ongoing agricultural needs, and teacher salaries.
Please ensure you pick Christ Towers Junior School when you give. Thank you
GivenGain: The are No charitable receipts through Givengain. Ideal for smaller donations. $20, $30, $50, $75 or more.
Please consider giving regularly. If we had 50 individuals giving between $20 to $100 per month, the school could run effectively without constant financial stress. Thank you for considering giving to the school and children of Kiboga, Uganda. Your gifts can transform lives!
Giving is a sound financial strategy, and it is funny when we live beyond ourselves and generously live and give; we often receive so much more back. Please consider joining the CTJS team, and make a big difference by supporting the school, children, community and farming activities.
All the best in 2023,
Bill Westmacott, Owner, Financial Educator and Life Insurance Broker.