by Jess Cropsey
Those of you with school-age kids are at least a month into the start of the new school year and have (hopefully) survived all the craziness that goes with the beginning of school - shopping for supplies, buying new clothes, figuring out schedules, meetings, etc. Here in Burundi, the local students are just finishing their second week. Over the last two years, enrollment at Ecole Fondamentale de Kibuye (EFK) has sky-rocketed and they were quickly running out of classroom space. A few months ago, we decided to build a new building containing 3 classrooms and new offices. This beautiful space was finished just in the knick of time and is now packed with 8th, 9th, & 11th graders.
Life is a lot simpler here in many ways, yet school can still be a hardship for families for different reasons. Students aren’t required to have much (a couple notebooks and a pen), but even that is difficult for many families to afford. Scissors, glue sticks, binders, crayons, colored pencils and many things that Westerners take for granted are simply never found in the vast majority of schools here.
Over a year & a half ago, I started collecting school supplies for EFK to send on a shipping container. Donations came in from a variety of places. One couple from Pennsylvania donated some inheritance money that paid for enough basic supplies for 1,100 backpacks. Our church in Michigan did a colored pencil drive during their summer Kids’ Camp last year. Another church in Pennsylvania bought and assembled little packages of crayons. We also got some leftover supplies from the Ann Arbor Public Schools. Many others gave monetary gifts, balls, more crayons, etc. and in the end there was lots of fun stuff to go around for all of the nearly 1,500 students ranging from K-11th grade.
I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to get to know the teachers & kids at this school and it was truly a delight to be able to bring some joy to their classrooms with these gifts. I told them they came from many friends in the USA who love them, pray for them, and value education. I encouraged them to work hard for God and for their futures. Please pray that this school would be a place that develops the character of these young people & trains their minds so that they may become godly leaders in their families, communities, and country.