WHAT DOES YAAKA
“Yaaka” in Luganda, describes the flash that occurs from the ignition of a fire, like the spark from striking a match. Our goal is to “light the fire” in the hearts of children in Africa by bringing hope through love and education. Practically, this means creating discipleship and educational opportunities for children in the most under-served areas of Africa. Our vision is to create self-sustaining individuals across Africa whose lives have been changed through the transformative power of Christ. Yaaka Afrika exists as a partnership between the United States and Uganda with the common goal of seeing lives changed.
Originally started as a missions trip to Uganda in 2008, Yaaka eventually grew into a U.S. based 501(c)3 non-profit organization. With staff both in the US and in Uganda, We are passionate about seeing the lives of our students changed through a Christ-centered, discipleship based education. Learning to follow the Lord and serve others at a young age is critical in training the next leaders of Uganda. We also believe that in order for our students to excel, they must perform very well in all of their studies. To this end, we have built schools that are frequently recognized for their exam scores being ranked at a national level.
Through the Lord’s provision and the incredible support of our partners, we have been able to continue to grow and support the needs of our students as they have grown and progressed in their education. We now offer educational opportunities for students from nursery through high school level. We also require our students to earn either a basic or advanced level vocational certificate upon graduating. This ensures they will be able to provide for themselves in a chosen profession. Currently we have 4 campuses with over 1700 students enrolled.
We seek to serve the lost and left behind by giving them a HOPE through the redemption found in Jesus Christ. That hope transforms the individual, giving them a purpose and new identity in Christ. That HOPE lights a fire in their hearts to go out and make a difference in their communities.
By providing education to the people of Uganda, we are able to invest in the future and create economical, political, and well being throughout the nation. We are blessed to partner with talented teachers, missionaries, pastors, and leaders to do this. Yaaka works in partnership to build schools, train teachers and sponsor the education of the youth of Uganda.
Kwagala (love in the local language of luganda). Without love we are nothing. What we seek to do is more than just educating and teaching kids about who God is. It is about living out and demonstrating that love to our students, our partners and whomever we come in contact with. This work will not be accomplished by our strength, but through His mighty love for us.
By bringing hope through education and love, we are “lighting the fire”
in the hearts of our students and changing the world.
Pastor / Uganda Director
Treasurer / Board Member
Secretary / Board Member
Missions Coordinator / Board Member
Lead Uganda Admin
Angel Ndagire Ssenoga
PASTOR STEVEN TRINT
Pastor Steven Trint was born on April 18, 1970 in Uganda, East Africa. He has 11 siblings and was the last born in his family. While growing up, he dropped out of school at the age of 7 years and began cattle rearing for 5 years. During that time he learned how to produce charcoal from wood. At the age of 12 years his aunt took him back to school and he started learning from Primary two. At the age or 14 years, he learned how to cut timber and produce lumber for sale. He did this to pay his school fees. He would escape from school from 3:00pm to go to forest and cut timber. During that time Uganda was at war he had to run from one place to another, so that he would not be forced into a rebel group. He witnessed many children being forced to join, in addition to family members. At that time he longed to go to school. Everywhere he escaped to, he would get a job to earn money for schooling. He learned to prepare fish, peanuts and cassava to sell.
Finally he came to Kampala and joined his elder sister who helped him to join secondary school. In 1988, Pastor Steven became a follower of Jesus Christ. During this time, his sister became bankrupt and another sister and Pastor Steve began caring for her 6 children. Later the sister died of Aids. Pastor Steve went to northern Uganda to Lira and joined Uganda Technical College for a building course. After studying construction and working in contracting he was called into full time ministry. Today he is the Director of our schools in Uganda as well as the Ugandan Director of Yaaka Afrika.
Yaaka Afrika was started by a group of passionate people who wanted to see God move in a war-torn region of Northern Uganda. God has been hard at work, and we are slowly seeing that vision turn into a reality. Yaaka Afrika was started and is supported entirely by volunteer workers, giving of their time, skills and passions to see that the work is done with excellence. Currently, 85% of all sponsorship donations made to Yaaka Afrika are sent directly to Uganda.
Yaaka Afrika is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. All donations are tax deductible in full or in part. All donations made on our website (via Stripe) and through our partner platform REACH are Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. We are an open book. If you have any questions about our operations or practices please don’t hesitate to ask.
Yes! Yaaka Afrika is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit: EIN 37-1691471
Discipleship of our students is one of our top priorities, and is a part of our school structure. The government requires schools to teach religion, either Islam or Christianity. We teach Christianity, but the course requirements are more about teaching what the Bible says. We also teach a Bible application course, which helps the students to not just understand what the Bible says, but what it means. We also have weekly chapel and weekend church services at the schools.
When our students reach to the high school level, they are actually required to take a more indepth set of classes focused on discipleship and Christian theology.
We have over 1,700 students who attend the 4 campuses we support. To learn more about each of our individual schools and the students they serve, read about them here.
Currently, 85% of all sponsorship donations made to Yaaka Afrika are sent directly to Uganda. The other 15% of funds are utilized to support the non-profit in the United States through fundraising and administration costs. You can read more on our finances page.
By far our greatest need is student sponsorships. We currently only have about 60% of our students are sponsored. The funds we have available are used to try and cover the needs of the entire school. Go to our Sponsor A Student page to see a list of currently available students to sponsor.
It’s important that we point out that there are many other sponsorship programs and organizations out there, such as World Vision and Compassion International. We love the work they do, and do not view ourselves in competition with them. They are serving parts of the world where we are not, and we are serving parts of Africa that they are not. We are all functioning to serve those in need and having an incredible impact on the world.
One of the aspects of Yaaka Afrika that some people might find appealing, is that we are smaller as an organization than other non-profits. This allows us to be more flexible with how we operate. For example, if someone wishes to get to know their student, it is considerably easier to go on a mission and get to actually spend time with your student while they are there than some organizations.
We have several schools located in Uganda, East Africa. Our schools are located in a remote region of Uganda known as the Luweero Triangle. The region was devastated by civil war in the 1980s and is still recovering. You can learn more about our schools here.
God gave the vision to Pastor Steve to serve the children of the small village of Toggo, in Uganda East Africa. Following the model of Jesus as he ministered to others, he not only preached to them the gospel but met their physical needs by feeding them. In the same way, we are meeting the tangible needs of the next generation of Ugandans by educating them while they are being taught about the love of God. In addition, we’ve seen that by reaching to care for children, you are also able to reach their parents, and the surrounding community.
One of the hardest parts to communicate from such a great distance is how these students are just as real as your own children. Yes, there are some cultural differences but they are every bit as loving, playful, hardworking, sometimes mischievous and fun to be around as kids in the USA. In the same way we value education in America, we are working hard to instill value in education in Uganda. Many young people now can understand that a good education is key to having a better life, even if their parents don’t yet see it. Where our schools are located is very rural, and most are subsistence farmers who have no reference point for why their students need to be educated. Sponsorship means education, and education means more opportunities for them to provide for and make a better life for themselves.
Your online account also provides you with the ability to send a digital message (and picture) directly to your student. They love hearing from their sponsors, and especially love seeing pictures! We will get a response from your student and send you a reply typically within 1-2 weeks. Here’s the steps to send a message:
Login here: https://yaakaafrika.reachapp.co/users/sign_in
Login to your account, click on My Profile > My Sponsorships > then click on the “Send Message” button next to your student.
We have students write their sponsor letters at least once a year so you should be receiving a physical letter from them each year in addition to being able to communicate with them through our website. If you want to send them a letter (or small photo book) let us know and we would be happy to arrange to take it over on our next trip.
Sometimes students look up their sponsors on social media in order to learn more about them. Often times they will reach out to their sponsor and begin to communicate with them. While more connection would seem like a good thing, we have actually had to make a policy that students don’t connect with their sponsors directly until after they graduate from our schools. Because of cultural differences, sometimes students will ask for additional financial support not realizing this is inappropriate. Additionally, because they share a smartphone with other family members sometimes other people will request funds pretending to be your student. The only way to avoid such confusion and deception is to ask students to communicate through our sponsorship office, whom then sends you an email with a message. If a student is breaking the rules and contacts you through social media, feel free to let us know.
Students that have gone through our schools can continue their sponsorship if they choose to go on to a university as long as the sponsor is willing to continue supporting the student. Sponsorship fees would vary depending on the university.
Absolutely! There would be no greater way for you to really connect with your student than for you to visit with him/her. We typically take trips over in the Summer and Winter. To check when we are going next you can visit our missions page.
We would love to use extra monetary gifts that you donate for specific gifts for your student. Please email us to arrange this and we are happy to send pictures back of your student with their gifts.
However, due to the need for financial accountability, money exchange, and safety, it is our policy that all gifts be sent via Yaaka Afrika.
One of the easiest ways to provide additional gifts is to send a Care Package. This is when you donate some money (typically $30-$50) and we then interview the student to determine what their needs are.
To send a Care Package you can login to your online account, click on “My Profile > My Sponsorships”. Then click “Send A Gift” by your students name. This will allow items to be bought locally by our staff. This helps provide for the students immediate needs.
You are able to donate at any amount, but $41/mo. is our base amount for sponsoring an individual student. Any funds given at a lower amount will be applied to our general sponsorship fund, which will be given to provide for all unsponsored students. Since we have nearly half of our students still unsponsored, this is significant in terms of helping us meet that need.
Yes! We would love for you to come on one of our missions to Uganda. You would be able to visit with and spend substantial time getting to know your sponsored student(s). We typically travel in the Spring or Summer, and sometimes again in the Winter. Check out our missions page to see when we are going next.
Yes! We have quite a few needs outside of student sponsorship. You can read about and support our special campaigns here.
Kids are selected based on their need. If a student is determined to be able to pay school fees, this is an expectation. Our admins interview the student and parents to make a determination based on their circumstances as well as the attitude of the student and parents. For example, if the student wants to attend school, but the parents are very opposed to it, often times we won’t permit a student to go to school because that student does not have the support of their parents.
In terms of accountability, each student is expected to meet a certain criteria in terms of grades and behavior. This is a baseline expectation for all students. Once a student receives a sponsorship to remain in school, they are given additional information about what is expected of them in terms of communicating with their sponsor, and working hard to make the most of their education. For the student, knowing someone is support them individually in their education is incredibly encouraging and makes the student want to perform all the more.
From the Yaaka.org website, click on “Sponsor a Student” from the top right of the menu. From there you’ll be given a gallery of students to select. Choose a student, read about them in more detail, then click “Sponsor Now”. to sign-up to sponsor them. Most people choose to sponsor their students monthly, but you have the option to pay for your sponsorship yearly, quarterly or bi-annually.
The schools were shut down in March of 2020, same as most of the world.
The government was supposed to distribute materials for distance learning opportunities, but they never did. In April of 2020, we actually created and implemented an an e-class distance learning program that allows hundreds of our students to stay connected with their teachers and classes through a smartphone. They are able to participate in class discussions, test takes/quizzes, and some of them are even getting science instruction through Zoom. While it’s never as effective as in person instruction, it’s been a good system to keep many of our students in “learning mode” and keep them focused on education.
They began to re-open in October, 2020 until May, 2021 when they were shut down again due to a new lockdown because of the spread of the Delta variant that hit the country. The schools remained closed until January, 2022 when they fully re-opened. As of Spring 2022 only approximately 70% of students have returned to school. Our hope is that over time more will return as we continue to make individual follow ups with students.
Unfortunately the lockdown has taken a huge toll on the children of Uganda, and as a result it is estimated approximately 1/3 of all children will never return to school.
The commitment is flexible based on your need. You can cancel at any time. Ideally, we would like you to support your student all the way through until they graduate from our high school program. So how long depends entirely on how old your student is at the time you sign-up to sponsor them. The average age of a student graduating secondary school often is the same as students in the USA, but sometimes students can be older as graduating and progressing in school is based on your performance and not just your age.
Login to your account at Yaaka.org. On the homepage, to the top-right click the “Login” button.
Login to your account, click on My Profile > My Sponsorships > then click on the name of your student to see their picture and to read more about them.
It’s important to remember that people are people no matter where they live. In the USA, there are many programs and non-profits to help those in need. Some people will try and take advantage of this generous help, and others will genuinely use it to change their life. In the same way, most Ugandans will truly benefit from sponsorship. For those who don’t, we work very hard to determine if someone should be removed from the program. For example, a lot of this idea of a handout comes from the parents. Regardless of sponsorship status, we actually require parents to contribute to their students education. If they can’t help with any of the school fees, we ask them to contribute beans, or goats milk. We want to make sure they are also personally invested in this opportunity for their child.
Your monthly sponsorship means that everything a student needs to go to school will be provided for them. In addition to covering their school fees and daily meals while at school, an administrator will determine if the student has any additional needs such as scholastic materials, uniform, etc. and make sure they are provided for.
We completely understand that situations come up, or financial situations change. Just reach out and let us know if we can pray for you. We always have the option to simply pause your giving as well.
If you do find yourself needing to cancel, we make sure the student is aware, and work with the student and their parents to make sure they are able to stay at the school until they can get re-sponsored.
From time to time, students will have medical needs that arise. While responsibility to provide medical treatment rests with the parents/guardians, often times they are not able to meet the need for the student. At each of our campuses, we have medical clinics to meet most student needs. However, occasionally additional needs arise with students that require additional funding to cover. As a courtesy, we will sometimes ask you if you would like to contribute to support to this need, though it is completely optional.
Have more questions? See our full list of FAQs.