Frequently Asked Questions -
Q. When does the school year start and when does it end in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo?
A. In Uganda and Rwanda, the first term in the school year is from January/February - April. The second term is from May - July, and the third term is September - December. In the D.R. Congo, the first term is September - December, the second term is January - March and the third term is April - June.
Q. If I decide to sponsor a child, when are the sponsorship fees due and will I receive a notice telling me when they are due?
A. The sponsorship fees are due on the first of the month. When you start your sponsorship you will receive a statement showing your sponsorship pledge for the remainder of the calendar year and then in January an annual notice will be sent out for the next year. You may choose to make your sponsorship donations monthly, quarterly, twice a year or once a year.
Q. Why is there such a wide variation in the sponsorship fees?
A. The sponsorship fees are based on the local costs of school tuition in each location in the program. The costs vary depending on the country as well as the education level (primary or secondary) with the cost of secondary education being significantly higher in Uganda and Rwanda. Because 100% of your sponsorship fee goes to Africa to cover the cost of your sponsored child's school tuition, the sponsorship fee reflects only the cost of tuition with no additional costs being added to the fee.
Q. What does “urgent” label mean on the child in need page?
A. All of the children in the program, realistically, are in “urgent” need of being sponsored, but we specifically mark the most extreme cases, most of which are designated such by our partner in Africa. Generally this means the child is living a dire situation where the need for assistance may be even greater than that of some of the other children in the program. All the children are in need, but there are some whose need may be greater than the needs of the others.
Q. I sponsored a child recently and their photo has disappeared from the website. Does this mean my sponsored child has left the program?
A. No. Once a child has been sponsored, we will mark the child as "sponsored" on the website and leave their photo on the site for a few more weeks. After that, their photo is removed to make it easier for the remaining children on the website to be seen and, hopefully, chosen for sponsorship.
Q. My sponsored child's information does not include a date of birth - only their current age. Is it possible to find out my sponsored child's date of birth?
A. Many of the children in our sponsorship program do not know their date of birth. This is very common in East Africa as most families do not celebrate birthdays. Many parents do not remember their children's dates of birth and if the births were not recorded, there is no way to be sure of their exact date. We make every effort to obtain this information when a child is put into the program but in many cases it is just not possible.
Q. My sponsored child has been in the same grade for more than one year. Why is this?
A. It is very common for a child to take more than one year to complete a grade. There are many reasons for this including - missed school days due to illness or the family needing the child's help at home. Also, in the country of Rwanda, the primary language of the curriculum used in the schools keeps changing from French to English and then back to French or some combination of the two while the government is deciding which language to use as its official language. This obviously makes it very difficult for the children to succeed in school. The children in all the countries must also pass a standardized government test before they can pass to the next grade level. If they do not pass, they must repeat the grade.
Q. How often does the team from His Hands for Africa visit East Africa to update the children in the program?
A. His Hands for Africa sends a team to East Africa every 18 months. Generally the team goes in May/June or in December/January, depending on the 18-month cycle. The trip is usually 2+ weeks in length due to all the on-the-ground travel that is necessary to see the children in all three countries.
Q. Is it possible for me to join one of the His Hands for Africa teams so I can visit my sponsored child?
A. Yes. There is an application process for those who are interested in joining one of our work teams. Every effort will be made for sponsors on our teams to meet their sponsored child but please be aware that we cannot promise this. (Children are sometimes absent when we visit their community or sometimes we discover that they have left the program. Also, due to the instability in the region, there are times when visiting certain communities is inadvisable or impossible.) If you are interested in applying for one of our teams, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. Can I send money to my sponsored child?
A. You may send a financial gift to your child through His Hands for Africa. If it is for a specific need, such as shoes, be sure to include a note specifying who and what the amount is for. If you send a non-specified amount for your child, then our partners will most likely buy food for your child’s family unless they know of another pressing need the family has.
Q. I sent an e-mail to the info@ address (or used the Contact Us form) a little while ago but I haven't received a response yet. Why not?
A. Please bear in mind that all our program coordinators are volunteers - donating their time and energy in order to help the children. Many of them have full-time jobs and families to care for so they may not be able to respond to messages immediately. Because of the willingness of these wonderful, caring individuals who are serving in this capacity in our ministry without being financially compensated, we are able to send 100% of your sponsorship donations directly to the program in Africa. So we ask for your patience while waiting for a response to your messages.
Q. I found [the program coordinator or a board member] on Facebook and sent them a friend request but it wasn't accepted. Why not?
A. The decision to accept, ignore or deny friend requests on Facebook is left to the discretion of each of the program coordinators or board members. Some of them prefer to maintain their Facebook account for only family and friends they know well and we respect this decision on their part. Each of the program coordinators are members of the group page for sponsors of the program for which they are responsible and they can be contacted with messages there or through e-mail.
Q. I have written to my sponsored child many times but I have never received a letter from them in return. Why not?
A. One way that His Hands differs from some of the big-name sponsorship organizations is the fact that we do not have any personnel from the ministry on the ground in East Africa to help facilitate things like letter writing. It is very possible that parents of the children are illiterate and would be unable to write on behalf of their children or help their children to write a letter themselves. And day-to-day life for many of the families of children in our program is a fight for survival. Many don't know where their next meal is coming from or how they will pay for medicines for their children. In the face of these difficult circumstances, we have chosen not to add to their burden (or to add to the burden of the pastors) by making it mandatory for the children to write back. We STRONGLY encourage them to do so, but we have not made it mandatory. Please understand that your letters are delivered if they are received but the postal service in East Africa is not overly reliable. Our partner on the ground is able to inform us when a letter or package has arrived but please note that it can take up to a month or more before a child is able to receive the package. Things in Africa can go quite slowly, so realize it may take quite a long time before your correspondence is even received.
Q. Currently I am not in a position to be able to sponsor a child. But are there other ways I can help the children in the Africa program?
A. First, if you would really like to sponsor but just don't know how you could afford to do so, consider whether some small changes might help make it possible for you to sponsor. Most of us could make some very small changes in our spending habits and "find" $10, $12.50, $25, or even $30 each month we could use to help support a child. You can also make one-time donations instead of the regular monthly support necessary to sponsor a child. If you would like to do this, please visit our Donate page. Also, if you shop on Amazon, you can go to smile.amazon.com, designate His Hands Support Ministries as your charity of choice, and a small portion of your purchase will go to us. But if it is really not possible for you to do any of this, then we do have some alternate suggestions. Most importantly, please pray for the children, their parents or caregivers, the pastors, and the program administrators of His Hands. Pray that God will continue to meet all their needs and provide a way for more support to come in. Second, please consider sharing this need with your friends and family. In our experience, word of mouth is the best way for new sponsors to be found. Please consider sharing our website on your social media pages or even while waiting in the checkout line at the store. We appreciate any help you can give!