East Africa (MNN) — The COVID-19 pandemic drove 1.6 billion kids out of the classroom last year. While some continued their education online, others dropped out and stayed out. In East Africa, school shutdowns meant job loss for many teachers.
“Most of the teachers have been terminated. A lot of schools won’t even be able to reopen because all the teachers have new occupations,” Dean Vander Mey of Set Free Ministries says.
With help from its supporters, Set Free kept teachers employed throughout the school year. “We paid them the same salary every week, and we commissioned them to go into the villages, find their students, and disciple them one-on-one,” Vander Mey continues.
These visits did more than provide teachers with a paycheck. They kept hope alive and protected vulnerable kids. More about that here.
“We call them ‘wellness checks’, and the wellness checks had a huge part of the children not being abused because they (predators) knew teachers were going to come to the home and see how the children were doing.”
Pray people will turn to Christ as they encounter His love through local believers.
“The community said, ‘We’re not paying school fees anymore but you still love us, you still care?’ It had a profound effect.”
Last week, Kenya’s president put the capital and surrounding counties under a harsh new lockdown as COVID-19 cases surge. Vander Mey says the new restrictions won’t affect their schools. However, multiple closures have taken a toll on other schools throughout the region.
“Because of all the other schools being shut down and the teachers terminated, many of the schools are not even remotely ready to restart. So, our schools are going to have a huge increase in student counts,” Vander Mey explains.
Visit Set Free’s website to learn how you can help this ministry expand its ability to take on more students when lockdowns lift.
Set Free’s newly-constructed high school had 87 students enrolled in March 2020. “When we reopen [in April], there’s going to be 300,” Vander Mey says.
“That’s because we’re one of the only schools in the area equipped and ready to restart, having all the necessary things in place for cleanliness.”
Header image courtesy of Set Free Ministries.