This article was written in collaboration with Tom Jennings.
Education is critically important in the lives of young, developing people. It is also vital to the transformation of a community. Many times, in impoverished communities, we see that education, or the lack thereof, makes a major difference in people’s lives. So, one of the primary focuses of Children’s HopeChest, within the communities where we work, is to partner together to provide educational opportunities for children – and for those adults who had to quit school early when they were children. This is one of the keys to getting people and entire communities out of poverty.
Yodit, who attended the Merkato CarePoint in Ethiopia, is one successful example of investing in education. She attended the CarePoint for 10 years! Her mother was having trouble making enough income to provide for Yodit and her two siblings. Through HopeChest, Yodit’s life improved drastically, and she was able to pass her university entrance exam. She studied hard for three years, and recently graduated with a degree in chemistry. “The program made significant impact on my life to achieve my dream,” Yodit said.
We often think of education as a golden ticket that solves everything. In fact, among the 12 Areas for Community Transformation, education is one of the major areas that Children’s HopeChest focuses on. However, we must carefully consider how we lay the foundations of our educational approach, since education is like the roots of a tree, that feeds the whole. If the roots are good, the whole tree and the fruit on the tree will be good. Jesus said, “By their fruit you shall know them.”
In saying this, Jesus was not giving us an injunction to judge others. Rather, he was instructing us how, by observing their fruit, one can easily detect the long-term health or disease of a person’s “tree”, and thereby, know what their roots are anchored into. Healthy “education roots” will produce good fruit in people, in their communities, and in societies. That’s why education, and particularly children’s education, is such an important part of community investment.
Helen is another young woman who has completed her education with HopeChest’s support. She joined the Enat CarePoint in Ethiopia when she was just 14 years old. Her CarePoint provided her with support in many ways, like with nutrition, school supplies, and medical care. Helen also demonstrated her good “tree roots” in how she used her time at her CarePoint, too. Helen served others as a child committee leader, and also volunteered her time to teach a discipleship class to the younger children.
Helen has been a university student for the past three years, with the CarePoint’s support of tuition fees. And just recently, she graduated with her degree in Accounting! The CarePoint staff are very proud of her and said that “she will be a great model for other CarePoint girls.”
Both of these intelligent, hardworking young women just needed the opportunity and the support to grow their educational “roots”. Now, they will always be able to depend on that education and be able to provide for their families and communities. This is the reason that HopeChest puts such an emphasis on education in our community development plans, and how we plan to continue supporting these communities in their growth and change!