How I came to develop and love a commitment which I stand by the rest of my life – Over the past six years I have traveled to Uganda annually. During my second visit, I worked with young girls ranging from ages 7-20 on an island in Lake Victoria. These girls vary in their past experiences, but the unfortunate fact that they have no one to care for them unites them in a kinship of sisterhood. Many have experienced sexual abuse, such as one disturbing story of a seven year old girl who tested positive for syphilis twice before the grandmother acknowledged she could not care for her. The grandmother had been arranging for the girl and her two cousins to perform sexual favors for money. While I was there, I taught and supported the girls, and by the time I left they were calling me ‘Mummy’. An irreversible connection had been formed and I knew I would be returning.
While Uganda is privy to “Universal Education” such does not translate into “free education”. The majority of schools are government run and require students to pay school fees, purchase mandatory uniforms and necessary supplies. The remaining schools are private with even higher fees. In the Ssese Islands, where life is difficult, the predominant occupation is fishing. Men live a transient fishing lifestyle while the women of the islands have turned to prostitution as a means of employment. The typical price for a prostitute is 500 Ugandan Schillings or $0.18 USD. Without protection the price is doubled. Given the environment, sexually transmitted diseases run rampant and have led to thousands of orphaned children.
During my second visit I accompanied a friend employed as a social worker by the government to orphanages around the island where he grew up. I was horrified by what I saw when we visited three orphanages as part of his inspection of the facilities, which are funded by an American/Canadian organization. The structures in which the children lived were filthy with leaking roofs (it was raining that day) and rodent-eaten foam pads for mattresses. In a country where malaria is rampant, there were no bed nets. A young woman who had lived in the orphanage told of receiving letters and presents from her sponsor but the staff at the school sold her presents, pocketed the money, and forced her to write thank-you notes to her sponsor. Letters were always censored and children were not allowed to know their sponsor’s contact information. This first-hand experience in abuse of humanitarian aid compelled me to create a direct link between those with a desire to help and those in desperate need education financing, compassion and love.
Founded One World, LLC – In the spring of 2009 One World LLC was founded with the simple purpose to connect young Ugandan women, who are being denied the right of education, with compassionate supporters who recognize the value of educating women of the world. As former chief economist of the World Bank Lawrence Summers stated, “Investment in girls’ education may be the highest-return investment available in the developing world.” An organization was envisioned where quality, not quantity, was valued. Currently there are 23 girls who attending school due to kind hearts living in the United States. I personally know these children, and have spent time with them and their families.
During my visits to Uganda, I visit with the girls, check-in with their teachers and buy them any supplies they may need. All of this information is then shared with their sponsor. Before connecting a potential sponsor with a child, we ensure they are prepared to remain a part of the child’s life through secondary school not only financially, but as someone who cares for the child’s well-being. School fees are paid three times per year and range from $20 a term to $100 (which includes boarding) depending on grade level. Fees are either paid in-person or transferred via Western Union. The numbers of those in need are increasing and it is our hope to expand by linking these children with sponsors in the U.S. who have a desire to make a positive difference in the world, but may be unsure of how to do so or weary of a misallocation of funds. One World, LLC has grown into a One World Today as a Nonprofit Corporation and backed by a strong board committed to supporting the educational achievement of girls.
We hope that you will join us in our endeavor to provide girls the opportunity to pursue education.