Steinbach Christian School (SCS) had a guest this week who traveled all the way from the district of Kitgum in Uganda.
SCS vice-principal Scott Wiebe says a few years ago they were asked by a speaker if they would ever consider partnering with a school in another country, and notes the relationship between SCS and Faith Academy has grown and flourished. Wiebe says through fundraisers their students have been able to help expand the school in Uganda and change the lives of the children, who are the future of the country.
"The first time [I was there] was three years ago, we went out, and I was able to see the school as it was prior to us getting involved," recalls Wiebe. "They were teaching school in a bamboo hut that wasn't a whole lot bigger than this room. While we were there we were able to dedicate and open up a new school wing and they began using that shortly after we left. The second time I went back we were able to see them in their new classrooms with the new facilities and new desks. It was really nice to see the transition from where they were."
Wiebe says SCS has also been able to facilitate a pavilion for Faith Academy where students can have shelter while eating their lunch, installed solar panels, and have future plans for a computer lab.
"It would be very hard because 100% of our operations would depend on this support. Without this support the school would not really proceed because most of the parents that their children are in our school, they're from the war-torn area, this war took 23 years. They are not able, they don't have a job, they did not go to school, they cannot read and write. So, their opportunity to get funds or money to pay for their children is very limited."
Odhiambo says when he was answering questions from the SCS students he noticed a number of the questions were about what a child in Uganda goes through on a daily basis. He notes when asked how far a child may have to walk each day to get to school, he answered a child could walk up to eight kilometres one way to get to school.
Wiebe notes, "I made the remark that that's almost all the way to Blumenort. Then their eyes got large. Whoa, that's a long distance if they had to imagine walking themselves to Blumenort and back for school."
He adds they are working on getting transportation for the students and have already provided ten bicycles for the teachers to get to and from school each day.
Odhiambo says the heart of the students at SCS have a worldview and he would like to inspire his students to think beyond themselves as well.
"One thing I'm taking from Steinbach Christian School is that they're teaching the children, even the young children, to have the love of Christ. They're learning as young as they are and they're even thinking beyond their area, as young as they are. So, that is something that we need to give our children. They need to not think of themselves alone, they need to think about the whole world, how they can help and how they can pray for other people."
He adds the students currently in school in Uganda are the future of the country and can see their influence bringing about a positive change in the future.
"I think these students, after their education; the children are learning to be the future of the nation. As they're learning through a Christian perspective, we are very optimistic they will change our whole nation."
This was Odhiambo's first time in Canada. He says he was surprised by how cold the weather was, but was glad to be provided with a jacket to stay warm before going back to Uganda where the temperature is closer to 42ºC.
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