East Africa (MNN) — Last year forced schools all over the world to close, and poor communities like those in East Africa have suffered greatly. In the midst of all 15 of their schools in East Africa closing, Set Free Ministries chose to adapt the best they could.
Dean Vander Mey explains this shift was jarring but Set Free quickly pivoted.
“We were ministering to [more than] 4,000 kids, then all of a sudden we couldn’t minister to anyone. We just changed tactics, and we asked God for wisdom,” he explains.
While many children found themselves unable to continue their studies for months, Set Free Ministries worked with the teachers and students in their schools to make sure learning didn’t grind to a halt.
“We commissioned our teachers and paid them all the way through 2020, and they met with the children and did a kind of homeschooling,” Vander Mey says. “It had a profound effect not only on the children but also the whole community because, in East Africa, they had fired and stopped paying all the teachers. We are the only schools we know of that continue to pay our teachers all through the year.”
Vander Mey hopes the schools will be able to get back to what they were doing before the pandemic hit. Many schools in East Africa are struggling with the government regulations that resulted from COVID-19. Thankfully, these regulations shouldn’t hinder Set Free’s schools.
“[The government] put a lot of stipulations on the schools, making it very difficult for many schools to reopen. They’re demanding that [schools] have purified water sources, handwashing machines with foot pedals, and all kinds of sanitary sanitizing devices,” Vander Mey says.
“We’re already way ahead of the game [because] we have those things in place. We also have nurses in our schools to help with medical issues, so we’re kind of a step ahead of everyone.”
How You Can Help
As Set Free looks to minister to thousands of kids in East Africa this year, there are several ways you can engage with their mission. First, please pray.
“We need a lot of prayer. The places where we do ministry are very pagan. In East Africa, for every 11 children, there’s one witch doctor. Witch doctors worship Satan, and they afflict the people. There’s a lot of emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and even child sacrifice. We’re up against quite a bit there when it comes to ministering to the children in regions in the bush, so we need prayer,” Vander Mey says.
“For a buck a day, you can change a child’s life for their lifetime,” Vander Mey says.
Header image courtesy of Zach Vessels via Unsplash