(I wrote this post back in February, but wasn't able to publish it at that time. It is dated, but I thought some of you might find it interesting.)
The Ugandan schools have all just begun, and many families are struggling. The local schools run on the calendar year, which makes sense, but this year there are some specific challenges. Christmas is a time when people usually spend more money to travel to be with family and to buy a special meal. For many this is the time of year they eat meat. But this year, Christmas came at the end of a very dry year. The rainy season never came, and therefore people's gardens are mostly empty. Most people in the villages grow much of their own food, so many people are hungry. Not like the hungry where your kid comes home from school, hasn't eaten in a couple of hours and says, "I'm starving!" No, I mean go to bed at night hungry without having any food available for dinner. The translation for the word hungry in the local language is literally "there is biting or pain in my stomach." During the school year breakfast and lunch are included at most schools, but on holidays the family needs to provide these meals. The lack of rain has also made water scarce. In some places people are having to pay a lot to get water for bathing, washing clothes, cooking, and drinking.
And now the perfect storm has arrived. (No, not a rainstorm. We all wish!) It is time for students to go back to school, but many families cannot afford the fees. The first term is when many students need to buy uniforms and books and other supplies, too. So at the end of a rainy season with no rain and a holiday the money is gone. Many people in Uganda are trying to figure out how to afford to send their children to school. A grandmother showed up at my house with two of her grandchildren this week explaining that their fathers are gone and they don't have a way to send these kids to school. She is not from our village. She walked for at least 30 minutes from her village to come ask for help. Since I did not know her at all, I referred her to the social worker for GSF to see if there were any scholarships remaining. I don't think that there are.
While we cannot provide school fees for everyone, I am thankful that many women and students in our village have been able to save money through our Buwundo Beads and Crafts group in order to be ready for this time of year. Many of you have made this possible through purchasing the beautiful things they have made. Thank you! If you want to hear more about how you can support these students by purchasing or selling these items, please contact me.
Here are photos of some of our students during our Bible study time. Each week we meet to listen to the Bible discuss what it means and how to apply it in our lives, and then I purchase the jewelry and crafts they made that week. I only purchase from the students during their holidays, so that they can focus on school the rest of the year. Most of the year our group is 18 women who are mothers and grandmothers. Please pray for our students as they go back to school and begin a new year. It is my prayer that they will remember many of the things they have heard from God's Word as they listened to the entire book of Matthew and much of the book of Mark during their holiday. I praise God that several of them are continuing to come for Bible study on the weekends. I am also praying that they will study well and progress academically this term. Please join me in praying for these students as they begin this school year!
(Students are now at the end of their second term and preparing for their third term in the school year. I look forward to getting back to Uganda to see how they are all doing!)