Friday, October 25, 2013

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” ― W.B. Yeats

The picture on the right is one of my very favorites of the over 1,500 I have on my computer.  It is of the six, second-year students who are receiving scholarships from us (thanks to Cornerstone UMC, Jonesboro, Arkansas) to finish their two years at Bunda Teachers College.  Since we first started this program, funded completely by Methodist Churches in Arkansas driven by Bob and Patricia Harlan with help from Jerry and Amy Buckingham, we have graduated over 35 new, Christian teachers to help fill the gap made by the 1,500 teachers who die from AIDS every year here.  We find very needy but very bright Christian students who could not go to school without help and have wanted to be teachers since they were very young.  We also mentor and provide occasional tutoring (in English primarily) and the students always come by to see us and are ever so grateful.  It is such a delight to hear that they have stopped by.  Today, we added four more new students to our scholarship program.  They had been attending since September, but red tape had kept them from coming to get their scholarship checks until today.  Karen, very cleverly, figured out a way to make sure they were not cheated by the college and makes laminated ID cards for each one, so if anyone gives them trouble, they just show them the cards and things calm down immediately.  It only took Karen a couple of trips out to the college several years ago to know that she protects those kids like a mama bear protecting her cubs.  In fact, having one of her ID cards is a mark of status at the school now, so these poor kids are looked at as something special--which they are.  The smiles on those four faces said it all as they waved good-bye heading for the gate.  Hard to feel bad when you see those smiles, knowing they will study hard to make us proud.  Every scholarship student has graduated in the top 20% of their class with one or two making into the top four.  We are proud of them and the folks in Arkansas who give every year to keep this project running.  God bless the students and God bless those who give.
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