During our first visit in 2009 we discovered a great need for Uganda’s youth, specifically in the area of education. Uganda is one of the “youngest nations” on earth (over half the population is 14 or younger). Compounding this fact is the proportion of youth who are orphans, the number who have inadequate food and shelter, and an educational system struggling to address these issues - overcrowded classrooms with 60 to 100 students and just one teacher being the norm.
As we visited schools, some government-run and some private, we witnessed teachers overwhelmed with their tasks and lacking basic essentials such as textbooks, desks, pencils and paper, etc. The teachers begged for our help, suggesting that we bring other teachers with us to provide improved methods of teaching, classroom management, and discipline.
Of course we also recognized a great spiritual need in all of this: students experiencing hunger, poverty, and great loss in their young lives and teachers in similar circumstances, inadequately prepared to face such challenges. (Could any of us be adequately prepared?) We also recognized that the best way to affect the lives of children was through their teachers.
In 2010 we requested and were granted permission through the governmental education agency to hold a teacher conference, and we held our first in Tororo, Uganda. Teachers from both government and private schools attended, along with government officials who openly supported the event. Along with educational information and materials, we shared the Gospel and included Bibles in the materials offered to teachers. Bibles were by far the most sought after and treasured items.
Since 2010 we have continued to hold teacher conferences as the Lord provides teachers for our summer teams. We now hold conferences in Entebbe, Tororo, and Bunambutye, and have recently been asked to expand into more rural areas, something we will be researching. We give a Bible to each teacher in attendance, and provide a time of worship and presentation of the Gospel. Our vision: Encourage, enable, and empower a teacher through God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit, and they will do the same for their students.
Additionally, God has allowed us to partner with some amazing Ugandans who provide educational opportunities and sometimes even food and shelter to the least of these –orphans, children with HIV and other disabilities, and those affected by extreme poverty. We offer sponsorships for children in these schools. Will you partner with us to continue ministering to “the least of these“? Please consider sponsoring these children so they will have a chance to learn and grow into healthy adults.
If you are a teacher, consider joining a summer mission team and helping with a teacher conference. It doesn’t matter your level of experience or expertise. God will use you mightily and bless you even more.
Sharlyn Guthrie, Director
Education and Music
Heart of God Africa