Uganda (MNN) — A report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO) shows that Uganda has the highest school drop-out
rate for females in East Africa.
The rate shoots up to claim roughly half the class before the girls finish
primary school. The reasons are many: lack of interest, pregnancy, early
marriages, hidden costs at school, and family responsibilities have driven
thousands out of school.
The future for a girl who doesn't finish school is grim.
The Ugandan Education System won't allow a
girl who drops out in primary school to return.
Boys can come back and continue, but for a girl, once she leaves, she
has missed her opportunity for an education. As a result, sexual exploitation
and abuse is the most common scenario, but sometimes it includes far worse.
The "what" factor is keeping the girls in school. It's
the "how" that gets complicated with limited resources. Although AMG International has
sponsorship programs, Child Development Centers, and many other programs geared
for the children in Uganda, there was something missing in the family structure
itself. Florence Musiime established a
ministry to teenage girls called the Dorcas Ministry, an AMG mentoring program.
Why "Dorcas?" Musiime explains, "In Acts 9:36, there was a
lady who was called Dorcas. She had a ministry for orphans and widows, and
that's how I came to the name: to be there for the girls."
AMG's Stephanie Pickard works with the child sponsorship program. She explains that the vision grew from the
seed of hope and the $10 that started it.
"They started with the ladies, the teachers, and got the teachers
together and were able to help counsel the girls, help keep them in school and
provide for some of their basic needs."
However, at-risk teenage girls need more than just a
program. They need a friend. Pickard
says, "This ministry is helping bridge that gap between not having a
mother figure in their lives to being able to raise them up in the power and
the knowledge of Christ."
Every girl aged 13 or older who is enrolled in an AMG CDC or
sponsorship program is a part of the Dorcas Ministry. Every female staff member
is, too. "There are approximately 430 girls in the program. It's even
extended to their mothers and their grandmothers," Pickard notes. "The program specifically has extended
to a discipleship program. It isn't
simply providing for their physical needs, but also there's an emphasis on their spiritual growth and questions
they have as they grow into women."
As the girls age out of secondary school sponsorship,
there are still questions about their future.
Some take on vocational training; others become mothers. There are a select few who have more
opportunities. Pickard explains, "The
Dorcas ministry is actually sponsoring two girls who have qualified for university. Through their own faith and their own initiative, they're putting them through
school. In the future, a lot more girls will be look for that
Many times, sponsored students who graduate from college also return to the
organization that helped them achieve their potential.
Most importantly, Pickard shares, "The girls have gained
self-confidence. They've learned how they're supposed to grow up, that they have worth and value in
God's eyes. That confidence brings them to a point that they're able to stay
pure in their relationship with Christ."
Scripture notes Dorcas as a disciple of God. She is not only seen as a compassionate woman,
but also as an evangelist.
Like its namesake, the Dorcas Ministry shares the love of Christ with more
than 500 girls who are part of this AMG outreach. Because of its rapid growth,
there are financial challenges. Click
here for more ways you can help.