For most of us in the prosperous West, education is something we take for granted. It’s a blessing that is largely unappreciated and sometimes even despised. Such attitudes are out of place in sub-Saharan Africa, where the opportunity to study cannot be assumed and a sound educational foundation is often the difference between a harsh struggle for subsistence and a more prosperous quality of life.
This point was driven home for me last year during one of my visits to Zambia. As I normally do when I’m there, I spent Saturday with our Program Coordinator in Ndola walking through the neighborhoods of our sponsored children and visiting them in their homes. It is common on these excursions to receive warm and grateful welcomes wherever we go, but on this day the expressions of gratitude were especially pronounced:
“Thank you for giving my daughter a chance to get an education.”
“I never thought my grandson would be able to go to school.”
The striking aspect of these expressions is the fact that these guardians weren’t referring to a college degree or even a high school diploma. The blessing they had never foreseen for their children was the opportunity to attend elementary school. I was deeply affected by their gratitude, and renewed in my commitment to provide this indispensable gift to all the children Covenant Mercies serves.
Experiences like these only make our partnership with Lighthouse Christian School in Ndola, Zambia more meaningful. Since 2006, Covenant Mercies has sent an increasing number of students to Lighthouse each year to receive their education. As the school has grown through the years, the need for a more suitable facility has become progressively more urgent. So in 2009, we broke ground on construction of a building sufficient for the school’s needs. After nearly three years of raising the necessary funds and completing the project phase by phase, what a joy it was to participate in the ceremony for the Official Opening of Lighthouse’s new campus on February 10, 2012.
Though the ceremony was graced by the presence of Ndola’s Mayor and the Deputy Minister of Early Childhood Education, the true VIPs of the day wore school uniforms instead of business suits. Ultimately, this project is meant to provide quality Christian education for children who otherwise may have had no academic training at all. At present, we are sending 160 of our sponsored children in Ndola to Lighthouse Christian School in grades K-5. Lord willing, as more sponsors come on board and the school continues adding one new grade each year, we will be able to provide education for many more children through Lighthouse.
Future construction plans include administrative offices, a computer lab, and additional classrooms for grades 8-9. Yet our supreme goal has never been to erect impressive buildings with bricks and mortar. Our aim is to shape young lives with the building blocks of education, faith, and love. Through these key ingredients we believe we can impart hope to our children for a brighter future, and we are delighted to collaborate with Lighthouse Christian School in doing so.