Zambia (MNN) — Education is at the forefront of many ministries in Africa. But GEMS Girl’ Clubs has another goal in mind at its Esther School in Zambia: a cultural shift in the way girls are treated. They believe that oppression and violent acts against women can end through true local partnership. And that’s why this ministry known for its all-girls programs has a school for girls AND boys in the remote village of Chongwe.
Kris Palosaari says GEMS is very passionate about making a difference, one child at a time. “We’ve been asked so many times, ‘Why do you have a GEMS Girls’ Clubs ministry and you have an outreach ministry of a school that has boys and girls?’ Well, the only way that you can change culture is by having both boys and girls being trained together so that they are able to coexist and be a community that overcomes those types of cultural nuances.”
And the Esther School is having a positive impact on more than its students. Gina VanLaan, a second-grade teacher at the school, shares uplifting stories on her blog. “I saw hope on a dad’s face when I showed him his daughter’s writing journal,” she writes. “He was on the verge of tears,ust in awe that she could write. He has hope for his daughter. He sees potential.”
Even local construction workers who have been part of building the classrooms have been changed. Kris shares, “They have seen business practices that have been transformational, they have seen the Christian men that have modeled what it means to be a Christ-like father and husband. So the ministry isn’t just about the children and the school, but it’s actually ministries within a ministry to be able to share the Gospel in every way that we can.”
As the school continues to grow, the need for educators also grows. Palosaari asks for prayer for those teachers. “It’s a very challenging environment…physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We covet prayers of protection. We also ask for prayers for those individuals who have a heart for serving overseas, for them to step forward and follow obediently God’s call.”
And there are service opportunities for those who aren’t educators as well. Palosaari says work teams travel to Zambia to help with classroom projects, assist with construction, and provide tutoring and mentoring. The details are featured on their website, along with regular updates on the work being done at the Esther School.