1,000 and Counting

After opening the Amos Youth Centre (AYC) in August 2006, the African Education Program (AEP) launched its first official program, the Sponsorship Fund, in January 2007. Dedicated youth members of the center had made it clear that their families were struggling to pay for their annual school fees and hoped that the center could become a resource. Some of AYC's first members gather for a mathematics competition at the center.

In the first year, 25 students were sponsored and the program has grown ever since with over 1,000 individual sponsorships being awarded to date.

Alumni of the program now include a doctor, a communications officer at the United Nations in Lusaka, a regional manager for a major agriculture company, teachers, and many, many other great careers.

AYC/AEP is actually the organization giving the most sponsorships in Kafue, Zambia and local staff are in close partnership with the Social Welfare Department that often refers students to the center.

In Zambia, the school year begins in January, but the wheels of the sponsorship program start spinning several months ahead of time. In August and September, old and new members of AYC fill out application forms which include questions about their family situation, education and aspirations.

Sally, an AEP volunteer, during the interview process.

They then have an in-person interview with an AEP volunteer to further discuss their need for sponsorship, their grades at school, their favorite subjects, and why they believe they deserve a sponsorship. Home assessments for new candidates also take place, led by Anges Banda, AYC’s Director for Youth Counselling.

All of the information gathered is then vetted by a committee of AYC and AEP staff and volunteers and after many hours of deliberation, a sponsorship list is created. But the process doesn’t end here; it is up to the donors to ensure that each student goes to school!

Gladys is ecstatic to have a received a letter and small gift from her sponsor.

Everyone’s favorite part of the sponsorship program is the letter writing. Sponsors receive a thank you letter from their student in the beginning of the year and have several opportunities to correspond either through AEP volunteers traveling to Zambia directly, posting a letter through the mail, or email facilitated by AEP.

This year, 200 deserving high school and 30 collegiate students are seeking sponsorship. This means $125,000 needs to be raised to ensure no student is left behind! For more information, go to http://aeprogram.org/content/project_sponsorship.asp