Friday, July 19, 2013

“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.” ― Nikos Kazantzakis

For years now, we have been endowing scholarships at the Bunda Teachers College for poor, Christian students who had passed secondary (high school) but could not afford to go to university (very expensive) or even vocational schools (also expensive) to learn a trade, yet many wanted to be teachers--wanted to give back to their own people the gifts they had received.  Thanks primarily to Bob and Patricia Harlan and the good people of Cornerstone UMC in Jonesboro, Arkansas, we have been able to graduate no fewer than ten per year and for a two-year period graduated almost thirty.  This means that over 60 new, Christian teachers are now teaching all over Tanzania.  The Bunda Teachers College, a two-year diploma conferring institution, costs just $250 per year per student.  For $500, we can produce a Christian teacher who would have had a hard time just finding a job without this education.  The money covers everything from uniforms, to tuition, to books, to medical needs, food, rooms, and exam fees.  Searching for appropriate candidates is a sad/happy thing to do because so many come from such horrible surroundings it makes you cry, yet their spirit is so passionate to teach it brings joy.  We have to turn down quite a few, but this just means that the very best are the ones we bring to Bunda.  We have six students who have finished their first year this June and will finish their second year and graduate in 2014.  We didn't know if the money would be there for their second year (which begins in two weeks), so they came by yesterday to find out.  The picture at right shows exactly how they felt when they found that this gift of learning and the opportunity to teach would be theirs.  We will have enough money this year to add four new students that we can guarantee we can pay for both years before they start.  Tanzania loses about 1,500 teachers to death from AIDS every year and so classes are swelling and the teacher ranks are dwindling.  By providing these scholarships, a church in Arkansas is changing the face of education in Tanzania and spreading the gospel at the same time.  Now that's a lot of bang for your buck.  May God bless every person who has given, no matter how little, to this project which for seven years now has blessed the new teachers, the college, the students of Tanzania, and even us who only administer the funds.  What a joy.  Check the picture.  We feel that way, too, we just can't jump that high.

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