When Show Mercy International started in Uganda back in 2004, their core mission was to help the orphaned and abandoned children problem in Uganda (a problem experienced by nearly all of the AIDS ravaged countries of Sub-Saharan Africa). On a trip to Uganda, meeting so many children without a mum or dad or home tugged at their hearts to the point of compelling them to act.
As their vision took full shape in partnership with a local children’s home ministry, they finally constructed a site of their own in 2011 based on the EMIUK master plan (this was EMIUK’s first project!). Their vision was a 3-pronged ministry approach to operate children’s homes, mission guesthouses for short-term mission teams, and a medical clinic. Phase 1 of the construction was the mission and long-term guesthouses, and the medical clinic.
Since being on the ground for the past few years, Show Mercy has had a chance to engage more in the children’s lives and understand more about their needs. What they’ve discovered is that they feel the primary influence on the children’s lives occurs at school. Since Ugandan children leave for school early in the morning and don’t return until the early evening, the educators are actually engaging the children more than their caretakers at the home.
Of course this might be said even in Western cultures, but the longer school days combined with the more communal living style of the homes makes the situation here even more weighted towards the schools. Thus, Show Mercy made the strategic decision to change their focus away from building children’s homes on their site to providing a school where they can help shape the hearts and minds of the children, and ‘fill them with the truth of who they are in Christ’ (according to Mike Salley, the ministry director).
At present, Show Mercy is supporting about 100 children through their partnership with the same local children’s home. It’s hoped that some of these kids will attend and possibly even live at the school eventually, since the new school will have boarding for 200 of the 300 planned students. Either way, there are a number of nearby kids in the community who will attend the school as well, along with a portion of students who will pay to attend (thereby subsidising the orphaned and community children who couldn’t possibly afford to pay to attend the school).
It is both motivating and encouraging to be working with a ministry who has been so successful. But perhaps more impressively, they’ve not been afraid to course-correct along the way in order to best carry out what they feel God called them to do. Their rationale in moving away from a full-time orphanage to the school model is sound, and seeing the impact they’re already having on the nearby villagers as well as their own local staff makes it even more exciting to think about the lives that will be impacted by the school in the years to come.
~ Brad Crawford, EMI Staff