When planning the Amazima Secondary School, we made intentional decisions to ensure that our students would have the foundation they needed to become the men and women God has called them to be. Discipleship that would embed the Gospel in their hearts and minds – a top priority. Excellent academic curriculum – essential. But we knew that both of these things could lose their effectiveness without one crucial component – family.
By building the school in Jinja, we kept our students in close proximity with their families. While at school, students are under the care of Family Mentors. Each Family Mentor team has a Ugandan representative that speaks Luganda, the local language. These mentors share a home with a group of students, creating a safe, nurturing, and caring environment to meet the emotional, personal needs of each student. The role of Family Mentors is not to replace the student’s relationship with their biological family but enhance it.
One of the strategic ways we do this is by hosting visitation days at the Amazima School where we invite guardians to come to the school and see firsthand their child’s progress. Because our school enrolls local students, these students also have the joy of easily spending holidays at home. To maintain a strong relationship with the students biological family, our Family Mentors visit the family of each of the students under their care. These visits help establish open communication and partnership between our staff and the families of our students. Every time these connections are made, we see God’s hand at work impacting these relationships. During these visits, the Gospel is shared, relationships are restored, honor is bestowed, and gratitude abounds. One beautiful example of this is our Family Mentors relationship with Sempala and his grandmother.
While on their first visit to Sempala’s home, Family Mentors, Jason, Kori, and Simon met Sempala’s grandmother, whom they call Jaja Sempala (Jaja means grandmother in Luganda). “She speaks zero English but made my heart explode, even when I could not understand the actual words coming out of her mouth, LOVE was coming out and that is all I needed to know,” Kori says. As Sempala’s sole guardian, this grandmother and grandson are all each other has, and their bond is very strong. Though she did not seem to be overly religious identified herself as a Muslim. The mentors presented her with a Lugandan audio Bible so she could hear God’s Word in her native language. “She was not sure what it was or how to work it,” Kori says. Simon patiently showed her how the solar-powered device worked. The three mentors left hopeful but not entirely sure she would be able to operate it by herself.
Time passed and soon enough it was time for them to visit Sempala and Jaja Sempala again. When they arrived, the mentors were amazed that not only had she remembered how to operate the device but was listening to it regularly! “She listened every day as much as the battery will allow,” Kori shares. She talked for a long time about what she has been listening to and shared the story of Noah and the ark. She asked them to explain the meaning behind this story. By the end of the conversation, everyone was in tears! Jaja loved her new Bible. As they were leaving, Simon spotted a little girl hanging out in the corner by the door. He leaned down and asked her “have you been listening too?” The young girl smiled big and said “YES!” She then began to recall another bible story she had heard from the audio bible. The Jaja and the little girl went back and forth, laughing and correcting each other, making sure they told it just right. “It was one of the best days,” says Kori.
This is just one example of the transformation we get to witness daily at the Amazima Secondary School. We see the Gospel of Jesus Christ affecting not just the lives of our students, but the lives of their families as well.