Go-Up Academy Ntambo Primary School, Democratic Republic of the Congo
The children served by this primary school that is being built in the Ntambo Village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are from homes where the parents are hardworking smallholder farmers. Their primary sources of food and income are crops and livestock. However, in in an era of accelerating change and competition, education can control destiny. This program is designed to eradicate illiteracy and give children an opportunity to control their destiny. Children receive a primary education in such subjects as reading, writing, math, culture preservation, language, and health and hygiene practices. The program will empower children to make a positive impact in their community and eventually the world.
The children in Ntambo and the surrounding villages want to go to school. A few of them walk miles back and forth along unsafe dirt roads to the nearest schools every day. When it rains, their trips are rendered more difficult because of mud. So for their safety, the children often abandon school to labor with their families on their small farms. Too quickly, they adopt their parents’ lifestyles and become farmers themselves. Girls get married too young, and delinquency and its resulting hardship are other options that await some children.
The new educational program is being implemented in the school that is under construction, and children are excited to have a chance to attend school safely. For most of them, it will be their first chance to attend school, and they might even be learning alongside their parents. The program also includes provision of clean water to support and sustain healthy and safe conditions during school and at home and training programs for parents to enable them to help their children with schoolwork at home. The community has contributed additional bricks and volunteer time during school construction. Children are currently spending hours at the construction site to help and to watch their school become a reality. The program is working in partnership with the local United Methodist Church.
Education is a right, not a privilege. It should be accessible to everyone, regardless of the geographic location. It is quite possible that the next greatest brain surgeon and the person to find the cure for many diseases could come from a scholar who started at the Ntambo Primary School. This program is opening opportunities to hundreds of children.
A Story to Tell
In July of this year, we took a trip to the first village in DRC. Children came running behind the car. Much to their surprise, we were not just passing through. This time we came to see them. As we talked with the adults about their priorities, we heard them say unanimously that they would love to have their children receive an education, and the children concurred.
After talking with the adults, I started taking pictures. The children posed for the camera, and it was beautiful to see the excitement in their eyes. Toward the end of the meeting, I interviewed a few boys. The girls were too shy to talk in front of the camera. These few boys were seven, eight, and nine years old. This is how the conversation went.
Interviewer: Why do you want to go to school?
Children: To be smart.
Interviewer: What would you like to do or be when you grow up?
Children: Mechanic, motorcycle rider, car builder, doctor, and someone who repairs trucks
Interviewer: Will you go to school every day?
We ended the visit by looking at cars built out of clay by the young boy who said he wanted to build cars.
The next day, we visited another village. We sat with the village chief, who called people to gather to talk about their priorities. They wanted education and clean water. They believe that education will end the poverty in their community. The people of the village sang a song to express their gratitude for the program; it was an answer to their prayers, they said. “We will sing, we will dance, and we will rejoice in God’s shelter forever.”
(The following activities may be used in any order that works with the children you teach.)
Locate the Democratic Republic of the Congo on a map. This is a region in Central Africa. Then look for Katanga on a map. The Ntambo Village is located in a rural part of the southern region of Katanga in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Central Africa. The actual village of Ntambo is not shown on many maps. Ask; “How far are the children n Ntambo from where you live?”
The Village of Ntambo is home to approximately 400 adults and children. The village leader is the village chief. The people in Ntambo work as farmers, growing crops and raising livestock for food and income. Family and community are important to the people in Ntambo. Most children do not go to school, so many do not know how to read. The Go-Up Academy Ntambo Primary School will give children an opportunity to go to school so they can learn and grow and discover ways to make a difference in their community and the world.
Read Proverbs 4:8-9 together. Invite children to listen to what God asks us to do. After reading the Scripture, ask the following wonder questions:
- I wonder what you learned about God.
- I wonder what you learned about yourself.
- I wonder what God calls us to do.
- I wonder how you can practice loving God.
- I wonder how you can share God’s love with others.
Talk with the children about how the the Go-Up Academy Ntambo Primary School provides a safe place for children to learn and to grow. Pray for the children, their sponsors, and their teachers. Then invite the children to practice what they have learned about God. Have them share the love of God by walking around the room, shaking hands or giving “high fives” to one another as they look each person in the eye and say, “God loves you.” Ask the children how it felt to hear those words. Ask them to share how it felt to say those words. Ask them to imagine what it will be like for the children at the new school in Ntambo to learn new things and to grow in God’s love.
Sing songs that will remind children how they are learning and growing in God’s love:
“Siyahamba/We Are Marching in the Light of God,” 2235, The Faith We Sing.
As you sing, invite the children to march around the room together. You might choose to sing an extra verse, using these words: “We are learning about the love of God, we are learning about the love of God.” AND “We are sharing the love of God, we are sharing the love of God.”
“They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love,” 2223, The Faith We Sing.
Invite children to join in hand movements that reflect the words in each verse.
Invite children to write a skit that shares what they have learned at church and school and what they hope the children in Ntambo will learn in their new school. Invite them to act out their skit for the adult leaders or plan for them to go to other classrooms to share their skits. If you have a large group of children in your room, you might choose to split them up into smaller groups and have them act out their skits for one another. When they finish, say, “Thank you for sharing with me and others what you have learned and what you hope the children will learn in Ntambo. Let’s say a prayer for them together:
Lord, please be with the children in the Ntambo Village. Help them to learn and grow in your love. Help us do what we can to help. Amen.”
Break Bread Together
The Democratic Republic of the Congo's farmland is the source of a wide variety of crops, including maize (corn), rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, yams, taro, plantains, tomatoes, pumpkins, and varieties of peas and nuts. These foods are eaten throughout the country, but there are also regional dishes. Nuts and fruit are widely grown. Oranges and bananas are commonly available.
During this time, you might choose to bring popcorn and an assortment of fruit to share with the children. As you eat together, invite the children to talk about what foods they enjoy as you tell them what foods the children in the Congo grow and eat.
Play “Simon Says” together. Invite children to share what they think the teachers in the Ntambo Primary School will ask the students to do. Remind the children that the students in Ntambo are eager to learn and look forward to visiting and learning from their teachers every day.
Bless One Another
As you prepare to say goodbye, thank the children for joining you as you all learned more about the children in Ntambo and the primary school project. Ask the children to return to their homes and to share what they have learned with their families and to invite their families and friends to help raise money for children in Ntambo to have a safe place to grow and learn. As they leave, take time to offer each child a blessing:
Ask the children if they would like to receive a blessing, then make the shape of a cross on each child’s forehead or hand while saying these words:
(Make a vertical line.) “God loves you.”
(Make a horizontal line.) “God is with you.”
(Look the child in his/her eyes.) ”Go share God’s love with others.”
- Invite the congregation to pray together each day for the children and leaders at the Go-Up Academy Ntambo Primary School. Invite them them to consider as they pray how they can give to this important ministry.
- Host a special Sunday to collect a designated offering for the Go-Up Academy Ntambo Primary School. Remind everyone that this offering should be above and beyond their tithe or regular giving. Assure them that every penny matters, so no gift is too small.
- Invite children to help collect the offering on the day of the designated offering.
- On the following week, tape a paper brick on an empty wall for every dollar collected. Invite the people to sign the bricks and write prayers for the school. As people visit the brick wall, remind them that their gifts are helping build this school and a safe place for the children in Ntambo.
- Take pictures of your wall and post the pictures on Facebook and Twitter along with the amount of money raised, using the hashtag #childrensfund.
Send all money collected to your annual conference treasurer marked The Advance #3021113. (You can also give electronically at http://www.umcmission.org/Give-to-Mission/Search-for-Projects/Projects/3021113.) OR you may send your money directly to: United Methodist Children’s Fund for Christian Mission (or UM Children’s Fund), Discipleship Ministries, PO Box 340003, Nashville, TN 37203-0003. (Please include your church name and complete address with your contribution.)