We met under a mango tree next to the partially constructed church. Only one classroom block was completed and the other building was a dilapidated structure with gaping holes in the roof. It had rained and it was clear that children had sat at desks with their feet in mud recently. There were no latrines, only outhouses. It was a depressing sight.
This week marked my fourth visit to the community. There are now over 1,200 children in school, more than half of which are girls. There are now 50 savings and loan groups operating which offer members a means to save and borrow from the group to buy land, livestock and supplies that improve their ability to earn a living and send their children to school. Cascade groups train mothers in basic hygiene and useful skills which then trickle down into the community. The dairy cow program provides nutritious milk for children and a marketable product and the manure is used in bio-gas systems that are becoming more common throughout the village. We walked the fields of a young farmer who has embraced organic methods and produces a staggering quantity and variety of vegetables.
We visited the homes of healthy children whose parents are committed to their education and heard stories of older children already working outside the home or pursuing higher education. There are now four classroom blocks and construction of a teachers’ residence has begun. The family of my sponsor child Stephen prepared a wonderful lunch for our whole team as an expression of their gratefulness for FH’s and our support of the first of their children to complete high school. We worshiped in the completed church. Everywhere we went we saw evidence of a flourishing community committed to building upon all that they have learned.
In the farewell ceremony I told them about children learning to ride bicycles in Canada on bikes with training wheels to stabilize and support them while they learn and grow. Once they are ready, the training wheels come off. The training wheels came off this week in Nashisa. We watch with hopeful trepidation, but know they are ready and eager for independence.
As Cap Church, we were privileged to play a small role in the journey of Nashisa over seven years but they have done the work with God’s help. This week we celebrated with the community the transformation in the lives of men, women and children and of the land itself.
Our tears as we left, and there were many, were tears of joy.