Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More about Waku Kungo

Like many swimmers, I am using my English Channel swim to raise money for charity. "Charity" has gotten something of a bad name because some think it implies that the recipients are not able to take care of themselves. But the root of "charity" is simply "concern" or "love," and charity is the virtue of love directed first toward God but also toward oneself and one's neighbors as objects of God's love. So the word "charity" is just fine with me.

I wrote a few months ago about the project I am working on (see the post from June 20, 2008). In consultation with our church partners in Angola (the Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola - or IECA - pronounced YEAH-kah) , we decided that the best project would be to support the building of a school in Waku Kungo.

Like most people in materially poor countries, people in Angola realize that education is absolutely critical to their future. It is IECA's top priority for their social mission programs. They already run dozens of schools throughout the country, some of which provide the only access to education for children of the area. In Waku Kungo, there are functioning public schools but they are vastly overcrowded. Angola has a very young population, with about 50% of people under age 20. There are about 37,000 students enrolled in schools in the Waku Kungo area, but still another 6,000 or so who are currently outside of the school system. What limits school enrollment is the sheer number of available classrooms. So the schools run by the government don't come close to meeting the need, especially in a quickly growing city like Waku Kungo. Even those who are enrolled usually only are able to go to school for two or three hours a day, and of course, face huge challenges in doing even that.

The government only spends 3.8% of its budget on education. That is below average even compared to the other nations of southern Africa. Furthermore, only 18% of that 3.8% goes to elementary level education. Within Angola, relative income level makes a huge difference in access to education. The World Bank says that only 35% of the poorest fifth of children in Angola have access to any education at all, compared to 77% of the top fifth (note that the top fifth still live in terrible poverty).

Wonderful children like these two need to have a chance:

IECA, therefore, works hard to promote education, especially at the elementary level where it matters most of all for giving kids a shot at a self-sufficient future. This allows them to carry out the official mission of their social programs:

To create a more just Angolan society, founded on ethical-moral

and biblical principles, leading to a better world for all.

IECA already has a school in Waku Kungo where they provide the primary education for some kids and supplement the public education system with additional education for others. They are currently about to help about 120 kids. With a new building and a power generator, they could triple the number of kids they can serve and help them all much more effectively.

The kids can go from a building that is made mostly of corregated tin and plastic, with a dirt floor and no electricity, to something like this:

For $50,000 (the amount I want to raise through my English Channel swim) they can build a solid, durable and functional building with four classrooms, one office, one teachers'/prep/supplies room, plus bathrooms.

That's what this is all about. You can donate here (click the green button on the left side of that page).

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