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Stories of Hope – Working With Refugees Part 2

Naturally, most parents who’ve experienced much hardship in life with or without a success story tend to strive more for their children’s welfare, hoping the best for them. Some tend to counsel and lead from a more resolute and deeper sense of longing, wishing their children never experience the pains they did.

While over protecting our children from real or imagined life challenges will have negative effects on their development into mature and responsible adults, helping them grasp the core components of our hope for them is better demonstrated than verbalized.

The delivery of the promised roofing sheets and building materials provoked belief in the heart of these teachers and the parents of Hope Primary School. One of them later told me, “…when we saw the vehicle arrive with the iron sheets, we said praise the Lord, God has heard our prayers.”

In broken English, another explained, “…a little education is better than no education; I was born in the refugee camp, I didn’t know how to spell my name until I was grown up. I’m willing to sell everything I have to make sure my boy gets education here…”

While the teachers were teaching the children, their fathers were building the classrooms and their mothers were preparing lunch for the working dads, right there. Four groups of people from this community gathered at this school, happily pursuing a single goal – education for the children. Please picture that!


As construction works in this school continue, we are privileged to witness firsthand, the transference of the heart of the fathers to the children. Or how do you explain our been divinely located among sixteen thousand refugees amidst a million, who demonstrate self-reliance and model it to their children and grandchildren?

The many years of conflict has made the standard of education in South Sudan low. In an earlier blog here, I highlighted one critical challenge among many. Thus, most parents would relish an opportunity to have their child study in nearby Uganda but for the cost. Visas aren’t cheap and the school fees are three times higher in Uganda.

Now, as refugees in Uganda, educating their children is top priority. Most of the children of Hope Primary School walk 7-10kms on the average to and from school daily, some without footwear and in tattered clothes; while their teachers, who are all refugees in this community, continue their work without a salary. But that’s not all.

When it became clear that launching a School Feeding Program at this school would greatly facilitate learning, boost the immunity of the children and increase attendance, the parents met and agreed they’ll contribute for their children to get a hot meal each school day.

The parents agreed that every Monday, they’ll give their children firewood needed to make the meals for a week and pay 2,000ugx (50cents) per term to support the cooks.

I was very surprised to see these children arriving for school with firewood and deeply stirred when I learned that some parents had to trade some of their food rations from UNHCR for the firewood. That’s commitment. That’s collaboration. That’s counting the cost and paying the price.

The price is for the dreams in these young innocent hearts. I’m persuaded that their expectations will not be cut off nor cut short. In my small talk with some of the parents and the children at the beginning of the school year, I was challenged by their determination and hope. Some want to become doctors, engineers, teachers, soldiers, politicians, pilots… pastors and missionaries. Why not?!

This community has the major ingredients needed for community transformation anywhere in the world – corporate vision and a strong will. We’ve pledged with hope and earnestness of spirit, to pace our steps and stops with theirs; knowing fully well it’s only a matter of time before kingdom breakthroughs are announced at multiple levels here.

In Part 3, you’ll meet some refugee friends of mine with an enduring hope, who, despite being in dire straits have proven that success is not localized to any one region or country but on the will to bounce back from apparent setbacks and each time, with hope that what looks like the end is just a bend, hiding the desired dream.