An Interview with Sylvia from Sylvia's Children
Sylvia Allen is the founder of a nonprofit organization called Sylvia’s Children that supports the Mbirizi School in Uganda, a country where more than half the population is in poverty. Through her organization, she has helped many children get access to an education, clean water, and medical care. When the pandemic allows, Positive Notes will be working with Sylvia’s Children to provide brass and percussion instruments to children at the school so that they can start a brass band. We asked Sylvia a few questions to get to know more about her and her organization.
Q: Tell me about yourself, why did you decide to start this charity?
A: Oh dear … L O N G story but the CLIF version is 17 years ago I was adopted by the school to be their grandmother. I thought it would be an opportunity to make a difference in some children’s lives (25% of our children are orphans).
Q: What are some things you have done for the children at the Mbirizi School?
A: The list is three pages long … however, again CLIF version … they had 439 children and four buildings when they adopted me. We now have 26 buildings, a sewing business, 1002 primary school children (25% orphans), 20,000 chickens, 49 pigs, 100,000 mango trees, a library, new books, a 6,000 sq. ft clinic, a brass band … the list can go on and on. Every year we put on two parties … in June it is the orphan’s birthday party (but for all children) and in November a Christmas Party with good meal, cake, every girl gets a new dress, every boy gets a new shirt, everyone gets a “goody” bag with candy, sunglasses, pencils, mardi gras beads, stickers, etc.
Q: What issues are impacting Uganda right now and how have they affected your organization?
A: The CoVid Virus has me worried … no effect so far but they were one of the last countries to get it.
Q: What gave you the idea to start a brass band for the students at the school?
A: It was the Director’s idea as one more asset for learning as well as an asset for generating revenue since they would be hired for parades, weddings, parties, etc.
Q: In what ways do you think this will benefit the children in Uganda?
A: They will have an opportunity seldom offered to children in school.
Q: Tell us about your background, did you participate in music activities or classes at school?
A: I had 12 years of classical piano, have sung with professional choirs, sing in my church choir, danced in local theatre productions … it is part of my heart and soul.
Q: Where do you see this organization in five or maybe ten years from now?
A: More profitable and in the primary school totally self-sufficient so I only have to concentrate on getting sponsors for the orphans in secondary school ($500/year) and college/technical school (average $2500 a year). We currently have 100 orphans in secondary school, 100 in college/technical school and 49 who have graduated who are teachers, nurses, IT technicians, plumbers, electricians, etc. They have a life!
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own charity or organization?
A: Be strong, be tough, don’t be afraid to ask for money and don’t take no for an answer!
Q: Do you have anything else to add about you or your organization that you would like our readers to know about?