A Letter from Amazima’s Managing Director:
At Amazima, we like to say we hold our mission tightly and our methods loosely. And it’s true. Our mission has never wavered. It remains, “To live out the love of Jesus by educating and empowering the people of Uganda and the communities we serve.”
But over the years, some of our methods have changed for the better. What started as a small Sponsorship Program grew to include discipleship, mentoring, medical care, vocational training and feeding outreaches. What began with Katie “living out the love of Jesus” one person at a time has grown into to a ministry that touches thousands of lives each day.
One of the methods that is changing a bit in 2017 is how we approach our Sponsorship Program. We have found that the word “sponsorship” is packed with both meaning and expectation, both from the sponsor and the recipient. It is used by a variety of organizations to describe a wide range of relationships. We’ve seen the positive side of sponsorship, but also the potentially harmful side. Often times, “sponsored children” begin to view their sponsors as more important and more necessary than their parents and relatives… even to the point of fostering resentment towards parents because of their inability to provide for physical needs.
Additionally, it is easy to settle into an entitlement/hand-out mentality which deprives these young students and their families of the dignity they desperately long for. In short, we’ve begun to see that sometimes, traditional “sponsorship” can hurt more than help.
So in 2017, we’re making a small, yet significant, change to the way we describe and implement our Sponsorship Program. We’re replacing the word “sponsorship” with “scholarship.” Students in Amazima’s Scholarship Program will continue to have their school fees paid, will receive warm, nutritious meals, and have access to medical treatment and vocational training. The key differences are that this approach requires participation of guardians in order to uphold them in the eyes of their children, and scholarships will be renewed annually based on students completing basic requirements.
We’re excited about this change because it means more involvement from parents and guardians than we have ever had in the past, and it also means better opportunities to mentor and disciple students.
As we’ve shared this change with Amazima’s partners and the families of the 600+ students in our program, the idea of replacing “sponsorship” with “scholarship” has been welcomed and embraced. For many, there will be little actual change. But for all, there will be a greater sense of partnership, commitment, and dignity for parents, guardians, and students.
As we transition from sponsorship to scholarship, there is even more excitement in the air at Amazima. On February 13th, we welcomed our first class of students to The Amazima School–a beautiful 70-acre campus on the outskirts of Jinja. A new method to live out the love of Jesus in the community we serve.
This is exciting because while we absolutely believe in living out the gospel by meeting today’s needs, we also want to see long-term, systemic change. We want to see children excited about being in school, not where their next meal is going to come from. And we want to see adults employed with dignity, not begging on the streets. That is moving from dependence to empowerment.
But hear this loud and clear: our goal is more than just “making life better” in Uganda.
Our goal is to make disciples and we believe the classroom offers the greatest potential to do so.
We have grown to realize that by combining our commitment to discipleship and mentoring with a response to the need for a Christ-centered education, we can best live out our mission in a classical school setting. Students will receive a top-notch classical Christian education that engages both their heart and their minds. They will be equipped with an education that fosters creativity and problem solving. They will become difference-makers in their communities as they experience healthy relationship in community.
So in one sense, there is a lot of change in the air at Amazima. Our methods continue to be refined and refreshed. We respond to the changing needs of the community we serve. Yet in another sense, nothing changes at all. We continue to strive to do what we believe God called us to do back in 2008. To live out the love of Jesus by educating and empowering the people of Uganda and the communities we serve.
In sharing about these exciting changes, our hope is this: that our mission becomes yours as you partner with Amazima and hear stories about God transforming lives, restoring relationships, and changing communities.