By John Bear Staff Writer, Daily Camera, Boulder CO POSTED: 12/25/2016
Margaret and Lydia, twin sisters living in Uganda, have been able to do something that most girls in the east African country never get to do: graduate from high school.
They did so through hard work, but also from financial help from Longmont resident Susan Roth and her family, who have been sending $500 a year to help the girls pay for books and uniforms for the past decade.
“It’s just a connection to the rest of the world,” Roth said. “If you live near Boulder, you are probably in the upper 1 percent of the world, so it’s a matter of keeping that perspective.”
She said that her family started donating through a foundation called Boulder-based charity BeadforLife about a decade ago and continued to do so through another Boulder-based charity — One School at a Time.
One School at a Time has worked to keep older Ugandan girls in school by paying school fees but also helping them get uniforms and basic hygiene items such as sanitary pads. The idea is that providing education for the girls is not only good for them but also for the community at large.
Bay Roberts, of One School at a Time, said that her organization has moved away from sponsoring individual children and now focuses on providing assistance to entire schools out of a sense of fairness and as a way to help more people.
“We currently partner with six schools and 2,500 kids — all in Uganda,” Roberts said.
“A lot of the time, schools don’t get the full amount or the correct amount,” she said.
Roth said that her family receives about two or three letters from Lydia and Margaret a year, and her family in turn will send them gifts. She said that once the girls graduated from primary school to secondary school, she couldn’t afford to cover all of the expense, so a few other families chipped in.
She added that while she is happy to help, she doesn’t want to come across like she or her family are being heroes for giving money. It’s just a way to help out, even if it’s just a little bit.
“Fatima, the twins’ mom, took in refugees from the Lord’s Resistance Army,” Roth said. “She took in people, and she didn’t have to. That’s a hero. She gave as much space and food as she could.”
The organization is currently seeking donations to build five classrooms at a school, a rainwater collection system at another, repair community boreholes and distribute 550 sanitary pad kits to girls.
Visit 1schoolatatime.org to inquire about donating.