Guest Column: Children of Ubumi benefit from generous people of Hudson

by Penny Frese Published:

Nancy Sakala is 14 years old. She lives with her family in a one room, windowless house without running water or electricity. Her parents are illiterate day workers who try to eke out enough money to buy each day's food for their family. Illiteracy traps them in a recurring cycle of poverty.

Zambia is too poor a country to provide free public education, even on the elementary level, so school attendance is not required of its citizens. The resulting ignorance leaves a population vulnerable to unscrupulous individuals and all kinds of political trickery that not only keeps the country in poverty, but destabilizes the entire world.

But thanks to the residents of Hudson, Nancy has a chance her parents never had. She is completing seventh grade at the free Ubumi Community School, built and furnished with donations from Hudson residents and organizations. She proudly wears a second-hand school uniform that, although not required, tells everyone who sees her that she is a student. This past year, with 46 of her classmates, she passed the exam that would admit her to high school. Of course, she can't go without a miracle.

Children of Ubumi is announcing a program called Give them Wings, that will allow Nancy and other qualified students from the Ubumi Community School receive the miracle they are looking for. Sponsorship, which costs less than $300, will provide a year's tuition, uniforms, books, fees, and transportation for a qualified student. The sponsored student will receive a picture of the individual, family, or organization that made this miracle happen; and at the end of each trimester, he or she will write a letter giving a progress report. Sponsors can write to their student at any time.

Does sponsorship work? While donors need to be careful when sponsoring a child, the best results occur with organizations where there is direct contact, such as with Children of Ubumi. Bruce Wydick, a professor of economics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, reports that in well run programs: "Overall, sponsorship makes children 27 to 40 percent more likely to complete secondary school, and 50 to 80 percent more likely to complete a university education. Child sponsorship also appears to be the great equalizer in education: In areas where outcomes are worse, such as sub-Saharan Africa, impacts are bigger."

To learn more about Give Them Wings, contact Penny Frese at 330-650-2864, or visit

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