Uganda (MNN) — In parts of Uganda, the phrase "deep in the village" means "out in the boondocks." It describes a place that is cut off from the modern world, and likely a place where needs are obvious.
That's where the latest project launch from Every Child Ministries is happening. Mark and Stacy Luckey are heading up the Afayo Project, an education project in Naigobya–a small village tucked away in eastern Uganda.
Busoga tribe makes its home there. Mark describes the area. "Luuka district and the Busoga tribe, in general, are the poorest in Uganda. So in a poor country, they are the poorest."
However, the village is also home to several churches and schools, including St. Paul Anglican Church and St. Paul Nursery and Primary School. The Anglican Church has been active in the area for over 100 years, but extreme poverty has kept growth limited.
As a result, the primary school effort has been sporadic. In God's providence, the Luckeys were being called back to Uganda at the same time the community was looking for help. Mark says, "The community asked us to come, recognizing that they needed help in their school, that their teachers needed help. Often times, teachers in the village have nothing more than a high school level education."
In addition, the conditions for learning were dismal. "In the school that we work with, none of the kids has any books. They wouldn't have pencils except we gave them to them. They have a few notebooks. The teachers might have a book or two to teach from." The classrooms themselves were in bad shape. Floors are dirt, windows are few, and there are no desks. Mark admits, "The needs are rather significant: a pit latrine for the school, school building maintenance and renovation because the buildings are in very bad shape. Kids don't have desks to sit at, so those are some of the development issues for which we're trying to raise funds, and we're looking for people to come alongside us."
The dilemma was the best way to help meet the needs. "First of all, you have an academic problem, where you don't have a lot of creativity in the thinking, so the country becomes kind of stagnant. Secondly, the Christian perspective: you have a problem with the kids not getting a Christian worldview from their teachers and their schools."
The Luckeys formed a four-part strategy that includes teacher training, agriculture training and assistance, community development, and church training. As they developed the program, Mark says the name became clear. "'Afayo' is the Lusoga word for ‘He Cares.' God cares for the orphans, widows, the poor, the needy. He cares for all of us, and He desires us to care for those people as well. Our job is to take the good news of Jesus to those who are in need."
Afayo uses village schools as an avenue for reaching out to communities with the love of Jesus. Through the school, the Luckeys can come alongside the local church and reach out to the community. The goal? "We want to help them get to a point where they can be self-sustaining and able to run the school without us," explains Mark. "Our vision is to be able to do this in many different schools and many different communities over the next few years."
Aside from funding, their current needs are for teams of educators and medical personnel to provide Biblically-based teacher training to local teachers, and to conduct a series of medical clinics for the school, church, and community. They're also hoping to work with a team of youth to minister directly to the children of St. Paul Primary School through classroom assistance, Bible teaching, and sports.
So, Naigobya might be out in the boondocks, but because of the love of Christ, it's close to the heart.
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