Tuesday, February 3, 2015

“Education is the movement from darkness to light.” — Allan Bloom

Our scholarship students came by yesterday for their scholarship money.  Bunda Teachers College prepares new teachers in a two-year program that currently costs $500 a year to send a good, new teacher out to teach in a country that loses over 1,500 teachers a year to AIDS.  With the help of a United Methodist Church in Jonesboro, Arkansas, we are continuing with a scholarship program we began more than eight years ago.  We provide all the funds necessary for their teaching certificates and ask only that they be Christian and poor.  Methodists get first priority, and we have graduated four Methodist young people who are now teaching.  As it turns out, most are also orphans, and hearing the stories of those receiving the scholarships almost always makes me cry.  The students who came by are so grateful because they now have a future and when they graduated from secondary school they had none because they had no money.  Several times a year, they will just show up here at the mission and clean the grounds for us, quickly, efficiently, and with singing which always gladdens our hearts.  It used to cost just $250 a year to pay for everything they needed and just $500 to pay for the whole program.  We have graduated over sixty, new, Christian teachers since we have been administrating the program for Cornerstone UMC in Jonesboro.  This year, the government doubled the tuition and we had to cut back on the number of scholarships but four more will graduate in May.  Four more will continue next fall.  After the Principal (dean) of the College came to our mission last month to visit, we have been in negotiations with them to lower the tuition fees.  We now have an agreement that if we pay for eight scholarships a year, the school will only charge $300 per student instead of $500, so that eight students can go for a year for $2,400 instead of $4,000.  We are hoping that this will allow us to continue to send eight a year through this program.  There is little in which we can invest that pays a bigger dividend for the country and its children than this scholarship program.  For an AIDS orphan with the intelligence to make it through secondary school and to be accepted by the college and then to have his or her tuition and fees paid by Christians in another country seems like a dream to them.  We are so very grateful for every single person (and many have been children) who have contributed to this program over the years.  I am only sorry that those who contribute don’t get to see the smiles and feel the hugs of those students who are graduating this year because they deserve to know what a wonderful thing they are doing.  Whatever gets contributed for next year, we will do everything we can here to make sure that there is enough money to pay for eight scholarships next year.  Twenty minutes with those students is like a year’s worth of Prozac—hard to be down when they are so up.  Thank you for helping.  Don’t stop, or start if you have never given before.  It is a good/God thing.
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