We have all uttered those words, or something similar to them, at some point in our lives. Perhaps with a raspy voice, labored breathing, intermittent sniffles, and an occasional forced cough, children have tried (possibly since the dawn of time) to con their way out of school. Justifiably, children have also uttered those words when they were actually, truly ill. However, I am coming to realize that there are some children who have never dreamed of missing out on a day of school regardless of their current state of health.
I myself can remember missing very few days throughout my educational journey, no matter how many times I tried to convince my mom that I had a fever when I didn't or no matter how convincing I thought my raspy voice was. But then, going to school was not as difficult as it may have been for others near or far from where I grew up. My parents gave me a ride to school every morning, but for at least six years, I had to walk home. On my 1.5 mile stroll home, there were sidewalks and crosswalks with crossing guards through my quiet neighborhood. School was also free, or at least included in our other taxes that we regularly paid.
Here in the Congo, things are quite different. Families are normally quite large (usually from 5 to 10 children) and parents must come up with school fees on a monthly basis. There are usually not schools in the villages, forcing children to walk often times up to 10 miles a day or more. Even those children who live in cities often finding themselves walking several miles a day through overcrowded streets and crazy traffic. Once the children arrive by 6:45 AM, they compete for good seats close to the front of the class amongst 50 other children in the same small classroom. From what I understand, children almost never miss school because of illness.
So why am I writing this? I am definitely not trying to make children in the US feel guilty, although I would hope they know how lucky they are. Rather, I am writing to say that I am proud to be a part of a Church which values the importance of education. Throughout the Africa Middle Field, and definitely elsewhere, the Church of the Nazarene is building schools in communities that have few options for education. Providing an education can change the life of a child in many ways, and our Church is not missing this opportunity to make an impact.
Below are some pictures of a Nazarene School being built in Katwatwa (15 miles from Lubumbashi), DR Congo. It is the first of several others to come and, even during its construction, is already providing ways for the Church of the Nazarene to witness and share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
|D.S. Chishibanji Celestin showing the land where the school will be built.|
|Laying the first brick of the school building.|
|Construction coming along.|