Uganda (MNN) — Uganda reopened its schools last month after two years, the world’s longest COVID-19 shutdown. Some students didn’t show up for class, and teachers supported by Set Free Ministries learned upsetting news.
“There’s a village near some of our schools, and in that region, over 1,200 girls [ages] 12 to 14 got pregnant because caregivers were abusing them, or boys from the neighborhood, or family members,” Executive Director Dean Vander Mey says.
Set Free operates 14 residential schools throughout East Africa. More about that here. When the order came to shut down, Set Free mobilized its teachers. During the lockdown, teachers traveled to different villages and taught students.
“It’s (the lockdown) been devastating to some of the young girls. But because our teachers were going in and meeting with our children, [it provided] accountability,” Vander Mey says.
“[Parents and guardians knew,] ‘We’re coming back, and we’re going to do child monitoring; we care about our kids.’”
The extended lockdown also provided unexpected Gospel opportunities. Along with regular lessons, teachers led small group Bible studies, and hundreds trusted Jesus as Savior and Lord.
“Instead of having the children come in [to our schools], we could go out into the villages and meet the caregivers and the parents. It was an amazing blessing in disguise,” Vander Mey says.
Today, students are back in the classroom, and Set Free is preparing for an even brighter future. Here’s how you can help.
“We have restarted construction on Light Academy to make sure these youths, age 12 and 13, have a high school to go to. They can finish out their school years and get ready for university, or get ready for their careers,” Vander Mey says.
“The need for that is vast; we’re looking at [raising] a little more than $4 million in the next few years.”
These teachers dedicated countless hours to traveling to students’ homes to continue discipling them. (Photo, caption courtesy of Set Free Ministries)