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Reaching Children in Difficult Places

Written by Benjamin N. Opondo

Dear <<First Name>>,

I do not consider restoration to be a destination but rather a transformational journey. It is a journey that we take step-by-step, day-by-day, year in and year out until every child has access to quality education regardless of their color, socioeconomic background, or geopolitical location.

I tasted first-hand the pain that poverty and war bring to innocent children who cannot explain why they were born in their families, their countries, or their cultures. When I served for three years in the Dadaab Refugee Complex—a resettlement camp for displaced Somali people at the Kenya-Somalia border— I was brought into contact with the dehumanizing tribulations that refugees of war go through. Differed dreams, loss of resources from riches to rags, hunger, and abject poverty characterized the life of these refugees. Yet in Isaiah 61:1-4 we read of God’s invitation to take action and free captives, repair broken lives, homes, and societies and cover them with a crown of beauty. Psalms 10:14 declares, “… You are the helper of the fatherless.”  Yet again Psalms 82:3 directs us to “defend the poor and the fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.”

My choice to become a Christian Educator was very intentional and vision-driven. I still believe that Christian education delivered by a Christian educator is important. With this model of education, students can emulate Christlike characteristics like love, kindness, altruism, and integrity. I have had the opportunity to teach in the world’s largest refugee camp in Dadaab where I came face-to-face with the horrors of post-war refugee life. Girls as young as 13 years were being married off to elderly men of 60 years and above. Mothers were caught in the web of opportunistic sexual exploitation to get daily bread for their hungry children. While serving in Ethiopia, I witnessed children as young as 7 years forced to herd camels and walk for over 5KM to fetch water for livestock and their households. In Burundi, I have witnessed widowed women eating wild leaves and roots to silence the pangs of hunger. In Uganda, I have done home visits for students and witnessed a mother with 6 daughters who live in a single room measuring about 15 square feet with no chair, table, or electricity for lighting. These stories are many and touching.

Is everything lost? Is the situation irredeemable? No. I believe there is more that can be done to restore these families and children to live a life worthy of their calling. It all starts with us asking ourselves, “In what ways has God blessed me and prepared me to bring hope to those who are hopeless? What gifts and talents, what resources and expertise, what skills and knowledge do I possess that can bring restoration in the lives of children recovering from war?” Our response to God’s invitation is one of service in His vineyard. May the Lord God fill us with strength and courage to ensure that children receive a transformative education in countries recovering from war.

Blessings!

Your brother Benji,
Programs Lead,
B2THEWORLD.