In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” If Jesus’ character brought rest for the weary of the world, then those who want to do God’s work also should offer this kind of rest.
In late June, our five summer interns arrived in Uganda. They were immediately introduced to St. John’s Primary School, located next to our property. They were initially overwhelmed by the children who were so eager to greet and play with them, but slowly opened their eyes to an education system that needs serious attention in order for those children to get what they deserve. Children in Ugandan government schools are inundated with curriculum and exams developed by the British. It is easy to see that children are memorizing material, but practically they are only learning that which is considered important by a Western nation. Because of this lack, children are missing key elements of education that would benefit them, their families, and their communities.
As the interns walked into the classrooms, they began to help carry the burdens of the teachers, lightening their loads, and bringing their own personalities and energy. Joy filled the faces of the kids and teachers as they all shared together in the process of education. Students were given more individualized attention in connection with their academics, and teachers were given assistance to do their jobs well. The interns gladly sat and marked students’ books, or worked to sharpen pencils for classes of 40 or more students. They learned to serve, even if it looked different than what they had expected to be purposeful work.
In addition to assisting during school hours, the interns provided extracurricular activities for the students after school. Children are not only intellectual beings, but are also social beings, created to interact with the people around them. The academic curriculum in Uganda does not incorporate this type of character education, but we do! We provided a week of Camp Skillz facilitated by the interns with the assistance of cooperatives and student teachers. To someone passing by, it would have looked like games and laughter. But, if you had come closer to hear or participate, you would have noticed that all the games and laughter were fueled by the character values of teamwork, patience, and endurance. As these skills are developed, we can help students to consider those around them and maintain healthy participation in a rich life.
While class sizes are still large and the facility could still use a lot of help, we are doing the best we have with the resources we have. Changing a school takes time, especially when its changes are not merely cosmetic, but something that empowers teachers and parents to do what is within their power in order to take part in the solution. Summer interns are part of the resource we have as an organization, and utilizing their service to ease the burden of teachers and staff is one of the ways we can help.
Join us in prayer for the heroes that teach at St. John's every day. Find out how you can get involved in lifting their load by helping to carry it.