Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hwol Yarje Children

A patient of Faith Alive named Dada Ezekiel Azi donated a plot of land to Faith Alive a few years ago to show his appreciation for the Staff and the care he received at the clinic. The land is on the outskirts of west Jos, in a large agricultural community.

Dr. Chris, along with key staff and a few visitors from the U.S., went to inspect the land given. Upon arrival, they were greeted by over 100 young children ages 2-12, who were not in school. When Dr. Chris made inquiries about the children attending school, he learned that the closest school was well beyond walking distance for the small children, upwards of 8 kilometers or 5 miles.

Dr. Chris and his staff, along with the support of the Americans, were able to coordinate the use of a local church (close to the plot of land donated) as a temporary school for these children. But as word spread and more children came, the church proved to be inadequate for over 200 children. The staff of Faith Alive understood that they needed a more permanent site.

The local community allowed Faith Alive to use a small piece of land for a temporary school structure. The structure was built and funded by parishioners of the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Collins,Colorado, that has sent numerous a small church missionaries to Faith Alive, and generous labor from Midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy, who poured the concrete floors last Summer. The current temporary structure includes three small classrooms, into each of which about 75 children pack in to learn everything from math and English, to religious education, social studies, and science, five days a week, and at no charge to the families. Two years ago, none of the children spoke any English. When we visited, they welcomed us with songs, and answered our questions, happily speaking with all of us.

The community has shown generosity and pride in donating the land right next to temporary school for a permanent school site. They see the value of this school in helping these children build a better life for themselves while growing in their faith of Jesus Christ. Dr. Chris hopes to build a 13 room school, supported by walls to keep cattle out, and a faculty "lounge", and a well for the children, teachers, and community in general.

The community itself , some 500 people in all and growing, is in dire need of a clean source of water. The only source is a shared stream that runs through the land. It is about a kilometer walk to and from the stream for the villagers. Everyone carries as much as they need for the day back and forth from the stream that is also used to water their livestock. The stream is used for all daily living needs, so someone might get drinking water downstream from another villager washing clothes, or bathing.

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