As Christians, we’re called to live in hope. But while we live in hope, this doesn’t mean we take a passive stance. We lament, we fight, we long to see the restoration of this world and lives transformed, and if we pay attention, we join in the work that God is doing around us.
As an educator in the United States, I get a first-hand look every day at the impact education has on students. We preach about how education is the path towards upward mobility and a better life. We teach our children that if you want to change the world, get an education. For some students, school is the only time a meal is guaranteed or a kid is free to be a kid. Too many of our students have the burden of being a sibling-parent. It’s easy to become frustrated when homework isn’t turned in, but the sad reality may be that by the time the student came home, made dinner, and got their younger siblings bathed and ready for bed, they were too tired to care about doing any homework.
These issues are not unique to America, or the western world as a whole. In fact, these issues are magnified and tend to occur more frequently in the majority world. However, the issues and problems faced by those in the majority world are often overlooked and under-reported on as we scroll through our news timelines.
The goal of this blog is to bring these issues to the surface. Also, it’s a chance to tell you about our friends in East Africa and the ways God is on the move.
In the US and many other western countries, a K-12 education is something guaranteed to you, whoever you are. All you are required to do is show up. You may have to pay for meals should you choose to be a part of the school food program. If you cannot afford meals, you most likely will qualify for free/reduced lunches. However, in the majority world, this is rarely the case. Many families struggle to put their children through school with the costs of school fees. These fees help go towards managing the school, uniforms, and salaries for teachers and administrators, and food (depending if the school has a feeding program).
Often times, families are forced to make a choice. That choice may range from which children go to school and which children do not, or whether any children go to school at all. If children aren’t able to attend school, most of their days are spent digging in the family gardens, helping the parent in their trade work, or helping take care of younger siblings and household chores.
This last summer, I was able to spend a month in Namayemba, Uganda, working with teachers and students at Tendo Education Centre. I got a first hand look at the challenges many of these students face. Children not coming to school, or afraid to come to school because their fees weren’t paid. Children who did not attend school, or had attended in the past but no longer do because of financial hardships and difficulties in their households. Children who came to school not for the education, but because they knew it was the one time during the day that they would be guaranteed a meal.
Amongst my experiences this past summer, those that stick out most to me, would be sitting down with the families of Tendo and hearing their stories. Not only did I learn about their lives, but why they’re so appreciative of Tendo and why an education for their children is so important to them. I was able to hear the dreams they had for their families and their children. While the answers were different from family to family, a theme emerged from these visits. Parents were thankful for Tendo and an education, because with an education children learn to socialize and interact with other people, including those different than them. Education would be the key to a better life, and hopefully lead the way out of poverty in the future. Education helps develop the next generation of leaders, both in the community and country.
These parents and families believe in education. Each one of the families I talked to was sacrificing something, in some way, to send their children to school. As AsOne continues to partner with and walk alongside communities and individuals, our vision remains to see dreams realized and lives transformed. We believe education is key to this, and we will continue to seek the empowerment of schools and those seeking an education.
If you want to join us in this fight to empower, become a Transformational Partner by donating only $24 per month.