- Michael Warneke
Power Their Potential
Spending time in Uganda has a way of giving you new perspective about life. Internally it changes how you look at contentment, joy, and purpose; and externally it impacts how you look at almost everything, from your abundance of food and resources, and most certainly the public education system that is available through our tax dollars. I live in the state of Missouri, and although I am in the poorest county in my state, my children still have access to an excellent education. This however, is not the case for the thousands of children that we serve across Uganda.
In the nation of Uganda, the Universal Primary Education system was created 21 years ago to ensure the children of Uganda, rich or poor, would have access to a free education. Do to issues of civil conflict, AIDS, malaria and crippling poverty, Uganda has found itself as the second youngest nation on Earth. When 70% of the population of your nation are children, and your economy is weak, guess what, the good intentions of making education available to all is simply not possible. In response to this, the UPE system in Uganda has created hidden fees at every turn for the nation’s poorest families. There are registration fees, feeding fees, uniform fees, exam fees, study tour fees, and the list goes on. This means that poor families that cannot afford private education, struggle to find the needs necessary to put their children through school. This means that families becomes desperate, and often give into desperate measures to simply survive.
Each time I have the joy of serving alongside our staff in Uganda, I am taken aback by the reach of our programs across our partner schools. The ripple effects of employment, soccer tournaments, study tours, hygiene kits and changing rooms is so very immense. However, one of the greatest impacts we get to make is when we enter a child into our Ekisa Scholarship Program. We get to come alongside a struggling student with great potential, a struggling family just trying to survive, and give them a security in their education that never seemed possible before. And this my friends, is life changing!
In March, I had the joy of taking part in one of those tragically beautiful moments that only seem to happen in Uganda. I sat with our group of volunteers, our social worker, Jane, and 8 girls from our partner school, El Bethel Junior School. We gathered with an air of joy in the classroom as we introduced ourselves by sharing our favorite foods and a little bit about ourselves. However, just moments later, as you stripped away that top layer of joy, the sorrow started to flow, and could not be stopped. One by one, each girl shared their stories of sadness, of embarrassment, of abuse and fear of being kicked out of school for lacking the fees required for each school term. Each story was riddled with pain and worry that no 12 year old should have to face, and yet with each testimony, more tears fell to the dusty classroom floor. By the end of their sharing our team struggled to stay composed, and beneath each girl sat a small puddle of tears.
And because of the generosity of so many amazing people like yourselves, that is not where this story ends. Before we left that day, we committed to look deeper into their stories, and to stand beside them. Our team of volunteers embraced these brave young girls and showered them with words of love and encouragement. Two days later, I had the humbling joy of looking each of these girls in the eyes and letting them know that they would no longer have to worry about school fees. I got to promise to them that Fields of Dreams Uganda was going to stand beside them for the rest of their educational journey. Because of your kindness and generosity, I got to wipe away years of fear, worry, and anxiety that their future dreams would never become a reality. In that moment these sweet girls got to replace their desperation for hope and purpose. In that moment, a burden was lifted for these families and for these sweet young dreamers that they will never have to pick up again.
When you give to our Power Their Potential campaign, you help us keep those promises that we have made to 150 young men and women and counting. We have seen these commitments produce fruit, we have seen these commitments enroll our students in university and vocational school. Giving a child an education is one of the most incredible gifts that you can extend, and we believe that these amazing young men and women are worth the investment. Please consider extending the gift of an education today with a gift to our Power Their Potential Campaign that will run from May 6-12, 2019. It is our goal to raise $25,000 this week, and we truly need your help to make that happen.
Thank you for your partnership in hope.