By now you well know, I have this special place in my heart for children in the streets, well, all kids, but especially the little scruffy ragamuffins with no place they call home or little interest in being at the home they have.
I look at these little ones… mostly boys, and I think about their futures. If they continue on the path they are on, they’ll surely end up uneducated, extremely poor, living extremely difficult lives to survive, or ending up in lives of crime.
Then I see hope. I see what their lives can be with some intervention. With someone to love and guide them. Someone to teach them how to live well, to tell them about a God who loves them and has a purpose for their lives and a way He wants them to live. Someone to educate them and counsel them, to make sure they are fed and clothed.
That is where my dear friend Pastor Deo and I share a vision. Several years ago, Deo saw some young boys fighting over a banana. He stopped and talked with them telling them not to fight, but also provided some little food for them. The next day they showed up at his house for more food. The next day they returned….. with friends.
Through that experience, Deo began a children’s ministry of a feeding program where children are fed emotionally, physically and spiritually. To this day, 3 days per week, about 90 children come for Bible teaching, counseling, a good meal, and sometimes educational help.
I have enjoyed visiting Deo’s ministry several times. He is a great example of someone ministering to the whole person.
Eventually these kids grow up. And then what? Where do they go? Where do they turn. When they reach 18-20, they are ready to branch out in the world, but if they have only basic education, no one to help them connect with further education, a decent job or a place to go. Where will they turn.
The bleak truth is many will turn to whatever means they can find to survive or get through another day. If you were a young guy with little to no family, lack of purpose or direction, where might you turn? For many boys here it is drugs and alcohol. I still have yet to figure it out, but both in US and here, I have found that despite how poor a person is, they are always able to obtain drugs and alcohol. Both of these slowly kill a person, if not physically, mentally and emotionally. As a young girl, where do you turn when you just want to be loved, when you just want somewhere to feel wanted, to be at home? For many girls here, without skill or ability to attend university or find a job, they turn to sleeping with whatever boy may take them home for the night. It’s one way to find a meal and a place for the night.
One alternative is skill training. If a young person can be provided with a skill to afford them a career or means of business, they have an opportunity to choose a different life.
Love Alive International partnered with Association for Children’s Assistance to form a Salon School for 10 youths. Here they will have hands-on training every day for 6 months with their own tutor. We have provided them with all equipment, a location for learning and a professional to teach them.
Many of these students had to drop out of school in early elementary school. A few were able to scrape by to get through secondary school, but found no jobs available to them and no means to go to college. Each of them is excited for an opportunity to learn a skill that is needed in any community. Two of our students are refugees from Tanzania (Rwandan citizens who fled to Tanzania years ago, and are now being forced out of Tanzania by that government). I loved that each of the students expressed a desire to be able to provide for themselves and help their families. None of them wants this education solely for their own improvement. They look at those around them and see how they can help them as well. One of the girls, a refugee transplanted from Tanzania, said, “I don’t need to depend on others. I need to have the skills to support myself, my parents and our family.” I appreciate that motivation. One student said, “I can’t wait to learn these skills and then share with my friends so they too can do hair styling.” She is not trying to keep this blessing to herself. She wants others to learn as well so that they too can profit. Another student said, “My parents have helped me so much, now it is time that I can help them in return.”
When given an opportunity. Many will choose a better life. This salon school provided through Love Alive is one way we can offer people that choice. These students have been studying for almost two months now. They are learning and practicing and enjoying. A new career for them is just around the corner. You’ve shown them a bit of God’s love, and it is making a difference.
When they grow up, the future doesn’t have to be hopeless. In fact, the future can be bright with a bit of opportunity.