NEWS UPDATE  December 2008
Back From Africa With News and Holiday Wishes

May you have the same sense of joy and happiness as the children at the Mbiriizi Advanced Primary and Day Care School in Uganda , Africa
(Photo taken December 3, 2008 during the Christmas party at the school)

We have just returned from an exciting, whirlwind trip to the Mbiriizi Advanced Primary School in Uganda , Africa . And, although there were only four of us, we got a lot done!  The four were Michele Costa, my daughter; Eileen Turcotte, from the summer trip; and AnnMarie Hanrahan Gray, a nurse from Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch .  


Here is what we packed into three days: 

  • Giving of a blanket for each child and staff member (almost 1,000 handed out individually;
  • Five-year celebration of Sylvia’s Children at the school with serving lunch to 1,000 children and their parents (GREAT rice … we are still trying to make it the way they do).  This was a formal occasion with many of the local politicians present including the mayor!  GREAT experience!  And, the good news? Our school has a wonderful reputation for academic excellence according to all the speakers (as evidenced by the fact that one of the high level executives has all seven of his children there!);
  • Moving up day for “Top Class” who will now enter P-1 (graduation gowns and all!);
  • A parade through town (a band, ALL the children and ALL the teachers)) … everyone in town turned out to see it!;
  • Diagnosing and helping the children who had been identified in the summer as needing medical help.  Thanks to AnnMarie, one child has been cured of Syphilis and another child’s umbilical hernia will be cured!  (She was a wonderful, concerned partner in our desire to help improve the lives of children in Uganda .)
  • Handed out 1,000 Christmas gifts to the children;
  • Updated orphan files based on the graduating class of P-7;
  • Saw the three acres we have purchased;
  • AND, learned how to make Chapatti the African way!

    Now that we are back it is time to start planning the summer trip.  Here is how it shapes up.  First and foremost, we are able to hold the cost to $3,500 and still give you a wonderful experience.  In order to hold your spot, I am requesting that you send me a $1,000 deposit (non-refundable) no later than January 15, 2009 with the balance due by May 15, 2009.  If checks, write them to Allen Consulting since they cannot go into our Sylvia’s Children revenue – it is not true revenue and skews our IRS reporting on our 990’s.  If credit card, just give me the info and I will process through Allen Consulting .  I know this is early but we need number confirmations to ensure that we control the airfare cost.

OK, here are dates and the schedule:  

            Leave NWK on Friday, June 26, 2009, arriving Entebbe on Saturday, June 27, 2009. Depending upon our arrival time, we will either stay near the airport that night or go directly to Masaka where we will be staying at the Zebra Inn.  (We went and checked it out … UNBELIEVABLE view of the valley and they have verandas outside your room where you can sit outside to enjoy the view.)  And, Internet service as well as WIFI. (If you are coming in from somewhere else – Washington, Boston , Iowa – the only other travel expense you will incur will be your airfare to hook up with the group.)

 Here is the schedule:

 Sunday, June 28 Go to Geofrey’s church (optional)
Have Geofrey and others from the school join us for lunch do a report (both sides)
Monday, June 29- Friday, July 3  Work at the school … update orphan inventory; work with each class (Jeroen and dance … more on this later); do health inventory; enjoy the children.
Saturday, July 4 Leave for safari at Murchison Falls .. stop at the equator for shopping and photos; stop at the drum factory; arrive late afternoon in time for dinner and (possibly) night game drive
Sunday, July 5 Game drive followed by breakfast …balance of day to be planned by safari company
Monday, July 6 Leave after breakfast to go to Tekera school and woman’s cooperative
Tuesday, July 7  Visit our friends Bruce and Bridget at Tekera; return to Entebbe for late night flight home.
Wednesday, July 8 Get Home

Total time is 13 days with, of course, first two days – because of time zones – just travel.  And, Vicky, I promise – fewer take-offs and landings!


I don’t think I have to tell anyone that we are in a tough economy … we all feel it;  however, it doesn’t mean we don’t keep trying so here are several options for raising money to ensure we continue the quality education at the Mbiriizi Advanced Primary and Day Care School.  

1.    This is an ideal time to make a year-end contribution that would provide for a tax deduction.  If you wish, I have written a letter that addresses this that you can send to your friends, family and business associates.  Just let me know if you want a copy.

2.    It’s holiday time and whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah or Kwanzaa it is party time and gift giving time.  We brought back some beautiful jewelry, made by the children, and we are selling it with 100% of the proceeds going to the school.  We should have it up on the website by December 12.  It consists of beaded necklace and earring sets as well as handmade (by the children) Beads of Life, which are gorgeous!  Also, some baskets, mats, drums, masks, mobiles and a spectacular miniature nativity set made of banana leaves.  The talent we continue to see is amazing!

3.    It is also gift-giving time.  So many of us have so very much.  Why not make a donation to Sylvia’s Children in the name of a member of your family or friend or business associate.  It is a gift from the heart and provides a lasting, loving memory, both for giver and receiver.  We send a special card to the recipient, telling them of your kindness and generosity.  Any and all amounts are gratefully received.


Much to do but so much has been done.  Thanks to the efforts of so many people – including you – we are developing an educational model that can be implemented in any third world area.  We are going to have a chicken farm (food for the children and village a well as a learning/educational experience); a woman’s cooperative that would help the widows, the school and the community; and, longer term, a health clinic that would serve the school and the community.  Our goal is to make the school totally self-reliant by 2012.  Then we can start expanding our reach and helping more children!  

Thanks to ALL OF YOU for caring and sharing and giving.  My very best to you for a Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year.

Please keep the children in your prayers. You certainly are in theirs.

Sylvia’s Children, Inc., 89 Middletown Road, Holmdel, NJ 07733 is a 501(c)3 charity where 100% of the donations go to the school.  Administration costs are absorbed by Allen Consulting so your donation is 100% tax deductible.  If you wish to help, just go to

Thanks for you interest in Sylvia's Children.  Sylvia Allen , Founder 732 946 2711


So who is Sylvia's Children?
Sylvia’s Children is a family-run charity with Sylvia Allen, founder, as President and her two children, Michele and Tony Costa, serving as trustees. 


No administration charges are taken out of your donations. 100% of the money goes to the school and 100% of your donation is tax deductible.

Take a look at our donor page … see what you would like to do to have an impact these children’s lives. No amount is too small … every dollar helps. Each one of us can make a difference in a child’s life … please help.
Sylvia and Geoffrey with daughter Michele (l) and son Tony(r).