This week signals the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year in the Central African Republic. The Village School program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church is gearing up to serve over 4,000 students in 20 schools, nearly all of them in villages where students have no other educational opportunities. Both Muslim and Christian students attend these schools, which are vital to educational development in this country where barely half of the population is literate. Girls in particular often do not attend school because parents do not want to send their daughters to distant schools. Having a school right in their village encourages parents to send their daughters to school, as well as their sons.
The project is largely funded through gifts from congregations and individuals in the United States. Parents contribute, but with a median family income of barely $2.00 a day, these monetary contributions are rather modest. Parents construct the school and a simple home for the teacher, usually out of sun-dried mud bricks and grass for a thatch roof. Then Village Schools sends a trained teacher (or teachers), along with educational materials to hold classes. If the parents are willing to help, Village Schools will construct a permanent building, using cement and fired clay bricks. At least one remote village has collected all the materials necessary for construction of a permanent school and is waiting for funds to commence building. Another permanent school building is already nearing completion in the town of Baboua. If you wish to help, contact Rev. Twila Schock, Director for Global Mission Support and Global Gifts, 8765 West Higgins Road, Chicago, IL 60631, Telephone: 773.380.2641, FAX: 773.380.2410, Twila.Schock@elca.org, www.elca.org.
Photo: Village School Director Etienne Yaïman hands out new books and notebooks to students at the Village School office in Baboua, Central African Republic.
Deborah and Joe Troester are ELCA missionaries in Baboua, the Central African Republic. Pastor Deborah teaches at the Theological School in Baboua. Joe serves as technical advisor for PASE, which provides clean drinking water and promotes good hygiene and sanitation to villagers. Their daughter, Christa, attends ninth grade at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé, Cameroon.