Frequently Asked Questions


YES – for regular or big donations.  (Otherwise, it's not worth the hassle.  CAF fees are tiny for the time they save you and the work they save us!)

BUT, for regular giving and big one-off donations,  please consider a simple alternative to "Donate" and CAF.

  • Regular donations  If you set up a regular donation in "Donate", NOTDEC UK will pay a fee to CAF every month. To avoid this, don't use "Donate": use Child Sponsorship.  On the enquiry form there, choose "Other Monthly Donation".  We'll then ask you to set up a Standing Order and, if appropriate, fill in a Gift Aid Declaration (on-line or by post).  Hey presto!  Monthly payments with NO fees to CAF.
  • Large one-off donations (£2,000+)  It's the same story. Give via "Donate", and CAF will get a tiny percentage of your cash.  But a small percentage of a large sum is well worth saving.  If you want NOTDEC to pay no CAF fee on your lump sum, again please use the Child Sponsorship form.  There, choose "Other Monthly Donation"; and add a Message saying you want to make a large one-off donation of £X.  If you wish, you can then fill in a Gift Aid Declaration (on-line or by post) and, finally, make a bank transfer or send us a cheque.  Again, a big donation but no cut to CAF.
  • Typical one-off donations  CAF provides a very quick and efficient service at very low cost — including all the admin for reclaiming Gift Aid where relevant.  The CAF fee could be avoided - though we might need to employ someone to do the admin.  But, for standard single donations, it's simply not worth you or NOTDEC UK the effort involved!  Instead, we can both say "thank heavens for CAF!" - and NOTDEC UK can continue to operate with no paid employees.  Gift Aid your donation, and the extra tax we will reclaim on your behalf will dwarf CAF's fee - yet CAF will do all the donkey-work.  The labourer is worthy of his – or her – hire!

When it’s Ugandan!

A woman dies in childbirth.  Her baby survives.  If the child’s father is still alive, in the UK we wouldn’t call that child an “orphan”.  There is still one natural parent living.

In most of the rest of the world, outside the priviledged West, it's different.  In rural Uganda it’s certainly different.

What can the father do?  He can’t earn his living and look after a toddler, let alone an unweaned baby. He can’t afford infant formula, which is both extortionate and in short supply, nor can he breastfeed the baby himself!  So he can’t even feed  his son or daughter.  His only choice is to give the child up.  In Uganda, the baby is an orphan.  We can split hairs all we like about what the word "orphan" means, but help will be needed for some years – or the child’s life and health will hang by a thread.

That’s the world NOTDEC works in – with many sponsors supporting kids whose fathers are alive and kicking. 

Or should we cling to our priviledge and split hairs?



Dorothy Nzirambi Komusana is NOTDEC Uganda's founder and a member of the management team.  She still very much enjoys looking after babies and young children, and also devotes a lot of time to training house-mothers or helping with the routine day-to-day practicalities of running an orphanage. 

Dorothy's schooling ended at Primary 6 (her father was ill and could not afford the fees); and, as a result, her written English is limited.  This, coupled with her evident love of nursing babies, and her lower profile in the management team might lead some Europeans to underestimate her. This would be a serious mistake.

Particularly in difficult times, her strength of character stands out, and no-one can doubt her determination to fight for the children that God has put on her heart.  In early 2015, for example, the orphanage was completely full and took the difficult decision to close to all new admissions until further notice. Despite this, people continued to arrive with babies they clearly could not feed or care for. Admitting the babies would open the floodgates — and they really couldn't cope with any more.  But send them away, and memories of 2012 said that they would almost certainly die. What could be done?

Dorothy was decisive.  To avoid creating precedents at Kabirizi, she decamped to premises in Kasese. There she offered short-term help and infant formula while families made their own arrangements, but — as in Ugandan hospitals — only if a family member stayed to look after the baby.  Where appropriate, she also gave childcare training.  This pragmatic approach has ensured that, so far, no babies have died and all are already being cared for by members of their wider family. [For more, see "Bottles & Basics" in The Baby Boom.]

Where there's a will ...


Is this a fair answer?


Yes: a lot!

Child Welfare Income is money given via child sponsorship or as lumps sums for the day-to-day needs of the children (food etc.) and all the routine running costs of the orphanage including staff.  It does not cover building the orphanage, nor the capital cost of buying vehicles like the school bus and the tractor for hauling water, or computers for the orphanage office.  All these and a whole host of other non-welfare costs are met out of Project Income — so called because the first task was to pay for the building project that produced the first four bungalows.

Project Income and Expenditure have bounced around considerably — reflecting particularly the various phases of construction at the orphanage — and have taken Total Income and Expenditure up and down with them.  We do, however, accrue funds for maintenance and renewals​.

By contrast, both Child Welfare Income and Expenditure were much more stable, though with a marked upward trend.

Total Income was low in 2011 because Project Income in that year was also down.  That was because Project Income the previous year had greatly exceeded Project Expenditure, producing a very healthy surplus.  However, Project Expenditure in 2011 substantially exceeded Project Income, and so quickly disposed of the surplus!  NOTDEC does not ask for large sums for which it had no immediate need or for future unspecified projects.

Financial Year 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Total Income   £164,050  £144,965  £96,276  £181,505   £175,347   £153,370      n/a
Child Welfare Income n/a £34,690 £49,597 £66,207 £79,183 £88,108 n/a
Project Income n/a £110,275 £46,679 £115,298 £96,164 £65,062 n/a
   Travel Donations n/a £7,055 £5,883 £11,632 £6,646 £9,609 n/a
   Project Standing Orders      £4,348 £8,088 £8,048 £3,444 £7,945 £7,560 n/a
FInancial Year 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
NOTDEC UK Expenditure
Total Expenditure   £142,612   £107,193  £141,732   £185,573   £167,480   £151,435      n/a
Child Welfare Expenditure n/a £36,469 £47,010 £60,700 £68,650 £84,165 n/a
Project Expenditure n/a £70,724 £94,722 £124,873 £98,830 £67,270 n/a
   Bank Charges n/a £425 £360 £440 £400 £494 n/a
   Printing & Publicity n/a £866 £0 £674 £140 £13 n/a
   Travel n/a £7.055 £5,883 £11,632 £6,646 £9,609 n/a
   Equipment & Services n/a £13,478 £7,564 £6127 £20,644 £19,529 n/a
   Construction, Vehicles etc.  n/a £48,900 £80,915 £106,000 £71,000 £37,625 n/a



Based on data for the past five years, the table below looks at which school years are most likely to be repeated.

Repeat Years by Educational Level
Level Years Analysed Repeats Percent Index   Boys Index

Girls Index

P1 28 3 10.7% 105   107 101
P2 25 1 4.0% 39   60 0
P3 34 10 29.4% 288   320 233
P4 27 4 14.8% 145   64 253
P5 21 5 23.8% 233   240 202
P6 21 0 0.0% 0   0 0
P7 21 0 0.0% 0   0 0
S1 17 0 0.0% 0   0 0
S2 13 0 0.0% 0   0 0
S3 16 1 6.3% 61   0 112
S4 10 1 10.0% 98   0 144
S5 5 0 0.0% 0   0 0
S6 5 0 0.0% 0   0 0
Absent 2 0 0.0% 0   0 0
All 245 25 10.2% 100   100 100

Index values show how likely each school year was to be repeated - with index 100 representing the average rate.
Years scoring over 100 have above average repeat rates  (200 = twice the average). 
Years scoring under 100 have below average rates  (50 = half the average).

Repeat rates are highest in P3-P5.  Allowing for the small sample sizes, the pattern is the same for girls and boys. 

There is  a secondary peak in S3 & S4.  So far, only girls have had to repeat these year — even though only slightly more girls than boys have reached that stage.


The chart shows NOTDEC Uganda children's progress through school — focusing on Primary Education because far fewer have so far reached Secondary level.

Age by Key Stage and Gender

On average, boys enter Primary 1 at age 6.5 years — slightly earlier than the girls at 6.9.  But, they don't maintain that lead — not reaching P7 until average age 15.1 compared with 13.9 for girls.  By the end of Primary, therefore, the girls have a lead of something like 14 or 15 months.

And on into Secondary Education, the news for boys only gets worse.  By S4, the girls' lead is 1.5 years or 18 months.

Caution  Figures should be treated with care. The date of birth of most children is precisely known, but for others it is a guess — perhaps just a month and year, in a few cases only a year.  Calculating averages from such data is rather risky.  There is no reason to believe that this has distorted the results significantly, but it is impossible to be certain.


Note: longer bars mean slower progress!



What other challenges face NOTDEC in relation to education?

These pages focus on meeting each child's need to achieve a good and appropriate level education. There, the main challenges are about what we can do to help improve school performance — not just by providing the best possible start in the nursery, but by looking at motivation, careers advice and so on.  We don't want kids who do better at school, but hate it.  We want them to do better at school because that is what they want. This will always be a work in progress.

Longer term, we also face a number of major challenges, which may affect the kind of education and upbringing NOTDEC Uganda will be able to provide going forward:

  • Resettling children with their wider families ("Repatriation") — removing many from local schools and NOTDEC Uganda's Christian teaching
  • The rising cost of further and higher education — making it harder to send to University all NOTDEC Uganda children who could get there
  • The shortage of jobs for qualified people - making children wonder why they should work hard at school if there aren't worthwhile jobs at the end of it all.

These issues are considered in more detail in Challenges: Education & Upbringing, where the question is set in the broader context of the kind of upbringing we aim to offer to the children in our care.



When building NOTDEC at Kabirizi, were local materials used?

Yes.  Where possible we used locally-sourced materials, which strengthens the local economy. 

It may also boost the job prospects of future NOTDEC teenagers, so we have to give it a go!







Bricks being made locally

The bricks here aren't the actual ones we used.  Nice idea! But "just build it" conveys a greater sense of urgency.




Kasim making a door. 

Kasim in nearby Kasese made the doors, door frames and windows.  Who needs Everest?


The best feature is undoubtedly the design of the houses, that keeps them cool without any artificial ventilation whatsoever.  But you may already know about that from Getting it Right.  And anyway, you could say it saved sweat and discomfort — not hard cash. 

So, as best money saver, how about the windows — made a few miles away by Kasim in Kasese.

Building in Good Design

The windows we chose include an integral fire escape and have full height opening vents for good ventilation, making them ideal for the Ugandan climate.

Air conditioning was out of the question, however, so that doesn't count as money-saved. 

The money-saver was in finding windows with integral fire escapes, providing high safety standards without the cost of separate fire exits.And in buildings used by such large numbers of children, good provision of fire escapes is vitally important.


We got a few things wrong.  One example — arguably at least — is the kitchens and cooking arrangements.

Cooking Calamity

The kitchen below was being built to Dorothy & Milly's specification.  Dorothy has been looking after babies and children for donkeys years: so who better to say what NOTDEC needs?  But when house-mothers tried it, they wouldn't use it — preferring something smokier out of doors! 

White Elephant in the Making?

Many house-mothers are raising their own families on site, and cooking matoke for 3 hours with bottled gas costs a fortune.  Some accounts make this the key issue. 

Others have a cultural slant, with house-mothers wanting a "normal life" for their families.  In rural Uganda, "normal" is not indoor cooking in an institutional kitchen but cooking outdoors in a well-ventilated shed. Climatically, outdoors is more comfortable & sociable; smoke deters mosquitos; and the house is less attractive to vermin without food smells & waste. NOTDEC Uganda exists to provide a "normal" family upbringing for destitute kids.  So a normal family cooking set-up can hardly be the wrong choice — especially as the alternative is prohibitively expensive anyway.


Clean and Light — the "brochure" image?

Is "family cooking" the best use of the house-mothers' time?  A central kitchen could free them up to spend more time with the children.  Will outdoor cooking still be the cultural norm when the youngest NOTDEC children are raising their  families? 

Of course cooking in the future may  be more "European", with greener and healthier bottled gas.  But that is then — not now.  And even then, normal families won't cook in a central kitchen!

The house-mothers' choice is undoubtedly "family cooking".  Today, that means outdoors. And the cost of slow cooking by gas may well be a factor.


Smoke at Dusk - nearer the truth?

It is easy to romaticize Ugandan cooking arrangements. The truth may not be "arson attack meets barbecue", as horrified Europeans may think, but it is certainly smokier and less convenient than romanticists claim.  That gerry-can means back ache where running water should be!  As for the long-term effect of the smoke on house-mothers' health, no-one knows.

For now, the decision is made.  Longer term, the question may be revisited as the focus moves more onto house-mothers' health and the best use of staff time. If, by then, Ugandans generally have moved to more "European" cooking, the indoor kitchens may not be white elephants after all. 

Time will tell.

As a footnote, it is worth mentioning  that NOTDEC laundry is a currently done by hand, not in a washing machine.  This too limits the amount of staff-time that can be focused on the individual bavies and children themselves.


Does NOTDEC have any future building plans?

Yes.  Though most of the construction is complete, we are planning more:

  • Extending the office building – more office space, a meeting room, larger clothes & food stores, and a tailor’s room. 
  • More staff accommodation – 2 extra units each for a couple or two singles.
  • Moving the lean-to garage – to between House B1 and the boundary

Of course none of this would be possible, but for fundraising in the UK and elsewhere.

It is God's enabling there that makes all this happen in Uganda. 

If you'd like to help, "just do it" - and make things happen some more!



You can't actually do it yourself - our website isn't quite that clever! 

But if you support NOTDEC, we can do it for you.

So if you (or your family or friends) sponsor a child, donate, or pray for us and our work, just email us a photograph plus a few lines telling us

  • who you are
  • what you do (eg which child you sponsor) or have done
  • what you have taken or learnt from the experience that might help others

It's as simple as that.

Revision notes: need to change the hyperlink to a NOTDEC email address.


NOTDEC UK is a registered UK charity: Registered Charity No. 259732.  This means that donations to NOTDEC UK by UK taxpayers can be Gift Aided - so NOTDEC UK gets back the tax you paid on the amount you give.

Further details, including past accounts, are available from the Charity Commission.

In Uganda, registration as a Community Based Organization (CBO) is important.  NOTDEC Uganda's registration is up to date — Kasese District Registration Number CBO/78.  Registration as an NGO is not required.



Don't doubt it: God moves in mysterious ways!

Drs Andrew and Sarah Hodges, members of St Paul’s Church in Leamington Spa went to work at Kagando Hospital in 1992. There they met Dorothy Nzirambi who was already caring for orphaned and destitute children in a home provided for her close to the hospital.  Because of their interest, St Paul's decided to raise money for Kagando Hospital, Kagando Primary School and  "Dorothy’s Orphanage” as a Missionary Gift Day project. 

Then, in 2002, two members of St Paul’s — Janet & Anthony Johnston — decided to visit their youngest son who was working in Uganda and had been very ill.  Whilst there, remembering the Gift Day project, they also visited Dorothy in Kisinga.  She was clearly struggling to provide even basic care for the children. 

On their return to Leamington Spa, they showed photographs of “Dorothy’s Orphanage” to their friends.  Two groups of friends both suggested setting up something to help Dorothy with the costs of looking after all those children — and the Child Sponsorship Scheme was born.  It is now a registered charity — NOTDEC UK. 

Read more about how you can sponsor a child.


You mean the bit where ...

  • Phillip Henslowe:  Mr Fenneman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.
  • Hugh Fennyman:  So what do we do?
  • Phillip Henslowe:  Nothing.  Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
  • Hugh Fennyman:  How?
  • Phillip Henslowe:  I don’t know.  It’s a mystery.


Well ... I see what you mean.  But we don't "do nothing".  We pray.

It's still a mystery though ...



"Repatriation" is a slight sardonic Ugandan term for the Ugandan Government's policy of resettling orphans with any of their wider family that is willing to take them — provided, of course, that they're looked after properly.  

Particularly in rural areas, Ugandan society is still family-based: not having access to a wide family network is potentially a further disadvantage of being an orphan.  So, for a child's long-term well-being, it really is better if they can go to live with what family they still have, and can build the same family bonds as everyone else.  That is an important part of ensuring that each child becomes a well-adjusted and useful member of society, rather than a misfit locked into a dependency culture.  In Ugandan society, the family is a support network — one far cheaper and infinitely more flexible than anything Social Services could provide, even in a well-resourced Western economy. The Ugandan Government's policy of "Repatriation" may seem very harsh, but there is method in their madness!





The latest full year figures are currently for financial year 2013-14.  The table below shows the pattern of spending in that year.  The categories are as set up in EasyAccounts.  They are used in a slightly aggregated form for the chart in How Your Money is Spent.

    Expenditure 2014
How Money Was Spent in Uganda 2014
S/No Description Ugandan Shillings* %
01 Food, milk & firewood for cooking 121,200,600 33.6%
07 Staff salaries & wages 64,639,500 17.9%
05 School fees (incl uni) & boarding 37,772,700 10.5%
02 Non-foods (hhold supplies, bedding etc) 36,574,800 10.1%
19 Other expenses (see note A) 25,607,842 7.1%
04 Medical (medicines & treatment) 21,944,550 6.1%
03 Fuel (diesel & petrol) 18,610,310 5.2%
06 Scholastic materials 11,601,900 3.2%
09 Administration (see note B) 7,184,900 2.0%
08 Staff travel (largely public transport) 4,321,800 1.2%
10 Office supplies 2,626,100 0.7%
17 Bottled gas 2,222,000 0.6%
16 Mending children's clothes 1,805,200 0.5%
11 Meetings costs & fees (see note C) 1,675,500 0.5%
14 General repairs 1,634,000 0.5%
12 Security (army & park rangers on-site) 571,000 0.2%
13 Goods transport 331,000 0.1%.
15 Savings account 300,000 0.1%
18 Boarding & special costs 0 0.0%
20 Contingencies 0 0.0%
  Total 360,623,702 100.0%

Notes:   *   As of 21st July 2015 £1 = 5100 UGX.  In 2014, the rate was typically under 4,300.

           A  A mixed bag.  Things will be classified better in future for greater transparency - but EasyAccounts has to be changed first!

           B   "Facilitation" travel expenses, air-time, refreshment etc. for board members & managers, and social workers visits to children’s wider families.

           C   Normal Ugandan practice is for all Board Meeting attendees to get a fee and a good meal.

Spending is Decided in Uganda — not UK

Once money is sent to NOTDEC Uganda, most spending decisions are made by the local management team.  Money sent out for a specific purpose (eg bedsheets, or shoes for a specific child) is, of course, spent for that particular purpose.  That apart, NOTDEC UK does not seek to micro-manage spending decisions properly made by local managers who belong to the culture and understand local needs, priorities and alternatives far better than we could ever hope to from the UK.  Of course, we give advice when asked — and sometimes when not asked!  But ultimately, spending decisions belong to NOTDEC Uganda: it is their lives.