by Mike Douris Posted on Tuesday, October 07, 2014
The picture you see above is of a little girl in the Candlelight School in a large slum in Nairobi, Kenya. We were there to bring aide and do activities with the students. We could tell that many of the children seemed lethargic and found out that the school had not had money to feed the children for several months. Many of these children do not eat at home and can go days without food.During lunch we stopped by a grocery store to buy snacks and food for the children to provide the best we could for them. When we got back to the school the children were in classes and they were so excited to get the snacks we had brought. This one little girl had fallen fast asleep because of being so hungry. The picture to me shows the challenge of education in the slums. The children need more than education!These small private schools, which are under-resourced and are usually in very sparse buildings, are the backbone of education in the slums. There are usually only a few public schools that are over-crowded and cannot serve the thousands, some times hundreds of thousands of children who need education. Even though Kenya now provides “free” education, students still must buy books, uniforms and school supplies that the families cannot afford.What then happens is that pastors and concerned families form private education programs in slum shacks and abandoned buildings so their children can receive basic education. Orphan Outreach is funding a number of these schools in India, Honduras, Guatemala and Kenya. It is heartbreaking to have parents come up to us when we visit these schools with tears in their eyes thanking us profusely for giving their children the hope of an education.Many of these children are in crisis, most in single parent families – suffering abuse, neglect, disease and hunger. A significant number of the schools start orphanages because the children’s parents have died of AIDS or they have been abused physically or sexually. I visited one of the schools we support and a 5-year-old girl was playing smiling and laughing. The director told me she had just arrived and they placed her in the orphanage because when her parents died of AIDS she was given to an uncle who was sexually abusing her.The slum schools provide more than education. They provide food, a safe environment protecting them from gangs, rape and trafficking, love, encouragement, preparation for a brighter future, medical services, family support, and the hope of Christ’s salvation. They are a lifeline in the most violent, impoverished communities on this planet. The frightening fact is one-third of the population of this world lives in slums.These schools are beacons of light in the midst of very dark places. They provide more than education – they provide hope!