Bootstraps Education

Building a Brighter Future for Refugee Children


Changing Fear to Hope

Bootstraps Education is an NGO, not-for-profit program, working in cooperation with Future for Refugee (www.futureforrefugee), and other NGOs teaching English, Math, and Computer Literacy. This school is provided free of charge to refugee children. The program is designed to help these students develop knowledge and skills which will enable them to be agents of their own change, as they move beyond basic subsistence, and beyond reliance on prostitution for basic necessities; to full employment and participation in society, when they come of age, whether that is in their host country, country of origin, or another country.

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Agents of Their own Change

Most children in refugee camps throughout Uganda are not receiving any formal education. 81.9% of children (ages 7-12) are not enrolled in a school, and 85% of children (ages 13-17), are not enrolled in a school. Not being able to go to school was rated as a primary stressor of children, according to a Save the Children, Needs Assessment Report on Child Protection and Education, among Ugandan refugees. Too many refugee children have been forced into the red-light (prostitution), due to the lack of money for basic necessities. Most youth in the world’s refugee settlements, and those living as Urban Refugees, do not believe that a bright future is possible for them, due to vulnerabilities, poverty, trauma, and stigma.

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Inclusive Population

By current definitions in first-world educational systems, most of our students qualify as having special needs due to the level of physical and psychological trauma they have experienced and continue to experience, including forced migration, poverty, physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, and being unable to attend school, according to a UNESCO report. In order for these children to get an education, the school needs to be a safe haven in their community, with adult role models who are aware of their daily struggles. All of our instructors are multi-lingual Ugandan refugees who understand the importance of treating our students with compassion and respect.

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At Bootstraps Education, our goal is to improve life-style outcomes for refugee children, by increasing their knowledge of English, Mathematics, and Computer Literacy; enabling them to be agents of change in their own futures, giving them real hope for furthering their education, leading to future gainful employment. Many of the children speak only regional languages from their country of origin, which will not help them in relocating outside their country of origin. (Conditions in their countries of origin often make returning there, impossible.) With this in mind, our top goal is to teach these students to read and write in English.

Through participation in the classroom, students will also be learning key life-skills of memorization, and self-discipline, as well as, being part of a group with a common goal. All these skills can noticeably increase self-esteem, which is often lowered through a variety of traumatic events experienced by these children. All children in our program live well-below the poverty line.  Other essential goals of our program, include teaching these children Mathematics and Computer Literacy, the concepts of which are international. In addition to the goals listed above, our school will also provide the children with a mid-day meal on school days. (Most students would not get this extra nutrition, if they were not at school.)



Building a Brighter Future for Refugee Children



Bootstraps Education is an NGO (not for profit) program, working in cooperation with other NGOs. This school is provided free of charge, to teach English, Math, and Computer Literacy,  to refugee children. The program is designed to help these students develop basic skills and knowledge, which will enable them to be agents of their own change, as they move from basic subsistence, and beyond reliance on prostitution for basic necessities; to full employment and participation in society, when they come of age, whether that is in their host country, country of origin, or another country.

83% of refugee children in some areas, (including Kampala, Uganda, where our first school is located,) are not receiving any formal schooling. Other NGOs in the area have expressed a desire to provide education for these children, but have not been able to do so, due to budgetary constraints. It is our hope that these other NGOs will be able to provide some of the funding towards education for these children, with Bootstraps Education as the actual school.

Most youth in Uganda's refugee camps do not believe a bright future is possible for them, due to continuing hunger (One meal of cornmeal porridge a day, is all that most of these children get to eat.), continuing extreme poverty, trauma, and lack of educational opportunities.

WHY DO THE STUDENTS IN THE PICTURE ABOVE LOOK SO HAPPY?                                                                                                                                                                                  They are happy because they love going to school to learn, to be safe, to get positive reinforcement, and to get fed 2 meals a day.

U.S. Contact: Marla McGhee,                                                                                               Uganda Contact: Irenge Mbwiriza,                                                    Executive Director, Co-founder, Curriculum Director                                                                Country Director, Co-founder, Lead Teacher

93 Greymont Lane #208, Asheville, NC 28806 (704)496-0747                                       Semakeriko Road, Kampala, Uganda, 256-777-739-763                                                                                 



As so many great ideas do, Bootstraps Education started with a few conversations. These conversations were between an adult student who is a Ugandan refugee, and an American teacher. Mr. Irenge Mbwiriza, from Democratic Republic of Congo, was a student in Mrs. Marla McGhee's online English class, who explained the circumstances at the refugee settlement where he lived. He expressed a desire to help the children of the settlement receive an education, to help them move from living below the poverty line, toward obtaining an education which would improve their chances of making a better life when they came of age. This was a perfect match for Marla's lifelong desire to start a school that would really make a difference in the lives of its students.

After a lot of leg work from Irenge and a lot of data-mining by Marla, Bootstraps Education was born! Mr. Mbwiriza will serve as the lead teacher and country director for Uganda. Mrs. McGhee will continue to provide educational guidance, serve as the organization's administrator, and seek sources of funding to continue the program.

Irenge, Marla, our additional teachers (who will be introduced in future blogs), and the excited families of the children who have registered for our first term ever, to begin in August 2020, thank you for taking an interest in Bootstraps Education!

"IF YOUR DREAMS DON'T SCARE YOU, THEY'RE NOT BIG ENOUGH," Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, Liberian President



What the school needs to operate

Bootstraps Education is truly starting on a shoestring budget. Marla is designing our initial curriculum, and the teachers are building the furniture.

We need donations to  pay for the following 


Monthly Rent on our building >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>    $165.USD

Web hosting monthly (paid per year)>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>     S15.USD

Electricity (estimated) >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>      $25.USD

Water >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>      $20.USD

WiFi bill >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>     $55. USD

Food: cornmeal, sugar, charcoal (for stove) >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>    $225.USD

Cleaning supplies: soap, paper towels(estimated) >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>      $90.USD

Masks (for teachers, assistants, and 30 students) >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>      $45.USD

Copying papers for teaching (Will be replaced by Ink cartridge refills and paper)>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>      $35.USD

  Salaries ($40 per teacher/staff member per month)>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>    $240.USD                                                                                                                                     MONTHLY TOTAL>>>    $  675.USD

                                                                                                    (Monthly total when salaries can be paid) S 915. USD

Once per term

School supplies for 30 students: 

textbooks, crayons, more paper, more pencils, erasers, individual pencil sharpeners >>>>>>>>>>>      $250.USD                                                                                                                                             TERM TOTAL>>>           $250.USD                                                                                                                  

One Time Donations 

5 - 10 notebook-style computers* (10-inch screens) >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>    Price TBD

A classroom library (We can get 30 early-reader library books for this price)>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>     $42.USD

A small copier/printer*>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>   Price TBD

Gardening tools for out "Take Home" Garden >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>    Price TBD 

(Seeds are being provided by Seed Program International)

Filing fees for non-profit status in the U.S.A. (IRS Form 1023 =$600., IRS Form 1023-EZ + $275.)>>   $875.USD

*Note to Donors: If you wish to donate items, such as computers or copiers, to the school, it is suggested to buy them from retailers in Kampala, as international shipping fees are extremely high.


For $11,840. per year, the school can educate  and feed 30 students, pay all operating expenses, and salaries.

For $8,600. per year, the school can operate without paying salaries


Donation options appear on the next page.


$ 100

Donation Amount

Future Plans

Future Plans
As our website shows we are starting small, but we have BIG plans for the future!

We opened our first school during August 2020,Kampala, Uganda, in August 2020, and our first class consists of 30 urban-refugee children, taught by 2 teachers. Once this school is well-established, we plan to open our next location in the Kayaka 2 refugee settlement, near Kamapla. From there we plan to expand to all refugee settlements in Uganda, then to refugee settlements in other African countries; then to refugee settlements on other continents.

Our plan for Uganda, is to educate the students through the Primary (K-6th grade) levels, so they will be prepared to take the Primary School Exit tests, to be eligible for Secondary School. When the time comes, we plan to cover the costs of uniforms and school supplies for those students wishing to enroll in Secondary School. Similar arrangements will be made for our schools/students in other countries.



  • Bootstraps Education, Semakeriko Rd., Kampala, Uganda
  • Visitors are welcome by appointment.


If your experience and expertise match our needs, we will contact you for further information.

Lawyer - U.S.
Accountant - U.S.
Accountant/Bookkeeper - Kampala, Uganda
Grant Writers - Worldwide