Little feet pitter patter across red dirt as the sound of motorcycle engines amplify riding into The Amazima School. Students run up to their mentors with arms open wide and laughter fills the hot air as they gather together sharing stories about their time on and off campus.
The relationship between a student at The Amazima School and their scholarship mentor is incredibly unique. It’s a bond that not only helps a child feel deeply loved, safe and known, but also allows them to trust that their family members are being loved and cared for while they are away at school. At Amazima, we are driven by intentional, relational discipleship and our Community Engagement (CE) team lives this out in the day to day. Student’s faces beam when their mentors sit to have lunch with them on campus, show up at their birthday celebrations or visit them and their family at home. Although many of the methods have changed over the course of the last thirteen years and counting, the mission and vision of Amazima has always remained the same. Amazima’s mission is to live out the love of Jesus by educating and empowering the people of Uganda and the communities we serve, and the vision is that every person we serve would know Christ and make Him known, resulting in transformed lives, restored relationships, and changed communities.
In 2008, Amazima Ministries began as a sponsorship program, which later transformed into the scholarship program it is today. Making this change not only enabled families in our program to take a more significant part in their child’s education, but also provided greater dignity to the families we serve and encouragement to the students attending The Amazima School.
The scholarship mentors that make up the Community Engagement team are the heartbeat of Amazima. This group of mentors is directly involved in the communities we serve and have been accurately described as agents of change. Each mentor is given a number of families that they journey alongside throughout the student’s time in the scholarship program and stay connected to indefinitely. The scholarship mentors usually travel out to visit each family that they serve at least once a month. Whether they are encouraging a student who has opened his own business, helping a mother support her daughter who got pregnant, advising parents about how to best use their land to support their family, or supplying food to struggling families, the CE team knows the value of living out the gospel. As one mentor shared,
“We have been challenged to learn and grow through the years, but God has been gracious to give us the opportunity to be a part of these families’ lives. We remain thankful for that opportunity and strive to guard that with which we have been entrusted. It is, after all, a sacred trust.”— Amazima Scholarship Mentor
Through the years, these mentors have worked hard finding many ways to engage families in activities that provide opportunities for discipleship and evangelism. Some of these methods include community service projects where students minister to families needing assistance, holiday programs that attract students and provide discipleship opportunities, training programs that offer financial literacy, child health and protection, family planning and monthly fellowship.
When COVID hit in 2020, many of these programs had to be suspended, but this did not deter the mentors from finding ways to reach the families of Amazima. In fact, the CE mentors say the COVID crisis opened their eyes to new, radical ways to serve families, which resulted in improved services, the empowerment of parents and guardians, and changed policies that better meet the needs of the children Amazima serves. While the lockdown prevented students from coming to school for more than 70 weeks in 2020 and 2021, the mission and vision of Amazima is now being carried out more intentionally and creatively than ever.
The CE team brought school to the students at home. They rode out on their boda bodas (motorcycles) into the villages providing laptops loaded with educational lessons several days per week. Education changed during that time period, and so did relationships! Some parents were working jobs far from their families, which prevented the student from seeing their parents or having a meaningful relationship with their parents. When schools closed and the country experienced two lockdowns, those parents were encouraged to return home to care for their children, and many of them did. As a result, parents formed deeper relationships with their children, communities changed and lives were transformed.
The Community Engagement team authentically and genuinely care about each family and student they look after, and it truly makes a difference. These mentors sit with them through the hardships and the laughter, the tears and the joy. The foundational relationship between the two creates an everlasting impact. Not only do the students know they are loved, and the families know they are being cared for, but more than that, they know the love and care that God has for each one of them. He sees them, He knows them, and He calls them by name. We are grateful for the impact YOU have been a part of in Jinja, Uganda that allows the CE team and entire Amazima staff to value the gift of discipleship through relationships and to care intentionally about our students and their families.
Missed last month’s Enews? Read about Katie’s beginnings in Uganda and the early development of the Community Engagement team.