Monday, April 13, 2009

Tirrim Secondary School

Tirrim Primary School began in 2004, with the dream of one day opening a secondary. For years, they couldn’t begin and couldn’t begin and couldn’t begin – there are huge startup costs, salaries to pay, boarding to provide (Tirrim school are charity schools and require no fees from the kids), a school food program to run… not to mention the challenge of where to meet!

Finally, this fall, Nick and Lynne got word that there was a huge amount of money come available for AIM missionaries to fund a project that they only could only dream of - all they had to do was apply. In November, Nick and Lynne and the Tirrim committee decided to take the plunge and start the secondary school. Some of the project staff moved out of their house to make room for one classroom and a small staffroom. Work was done to convert the house to a classroom, desks were constructed, textbooks bought, and, most importantly, word got out all over this and the neighbouring district that there was a free school in Korr. Students flocked to apply, and thirty students were chosen (that’s all the cramped little room could fit!). Students arrived and the school officially opened in January.

Tirrim Secondary is the first secondary ever for Rendille students. People all over the north heard about it, and people in Korr were so proud that their little town now had a secondary school. But they weren’t the only ones excited…

At the beginning of the term, Laura, one of the teachers, asked them to write a composition. She said, “I don’t know you - tell me who you are, your story, where you came from, how you got here…” All thirty kids wrote about how grateful they were to be in school. Most knew that there was NO way that they could ever go to secondary. Their families have no money for fees, and the nearest secondary was far, far away. Paying for boarding was out of the question. A few almost didn’t write their class 8 exams – why even bother if they’ll never get to secondary? Each one talked about how they are so grateful to God for a chance at an education. Reading their thoughts and their stories brought Laura to tears - composition after composition told the same story… all these kids had never dreamed of being able to continue past standard eight, and now they had a chance…

And just what will these kids do for an education? David, the youth pastor, was also talking to the students about their stories. What they told him might give you an idea.

One student is from Songa, about 150km from Korr, where raids and tribal fighting have been particularly bad recently and dozens of people have been killed. He heard that there was a free school and decided to do whatever it took to get there. He walked – WALKED! - 60km from Songa to Lochlogo, got a lift from there to Namarey, and then walked the remaining 25 km to Korr.

Another student is an orphan from Merille. He heard about the school, so he walked to Laisamis (30km), asked the way to Korr, then walked the remaining eighty-five kilometres to Korr. He walked through lion and wild dog country where even warriors walk two by two armed with spears. He walked alone, just him and his small bundle of belongings, the hope of a better future ahead of him.

Yet another student was from Korr, but had been going to school in Marsabit, about 100km away. He was in form three (the third of four years of secondary), but knew that he was getting into the wrong crowds and didn’t like where his life was heading. When he heard about the new school in Korr, he decided to drop to form one and start all over again. The youth pastor asked him one day if the school was the same as the one he left. “No! Not at all! This school is bathed in prayer, and I’m learning things I’ve never learned before. I always knew about God, but I never knew that he loved me!

This little school has brought such hope to these kids. Unfortunately, they money that was supposed to come through to fund it, that was supposed to be a sure thing, never came through. Now this little school is hobbling by, salaries paid personally by the missionaries here in Korr (something they absolutely can’t afford), and they are unsure if it can even continue next term, let alone next year, let alone expand to form two when the form ones move up. We can only trust that God’s got something up his sleeve, because he’s definitely working...

The last day of the term before the kids went home for the April break, they were having a special evening to celebrate the end of the term. They’ve been having a short time of Bible teaching daily, and a weekly Bible class, and they’ve SEEN the difference it makes to go to a Christian school. And during the devotion time on the last two nights of the term, they were given a lot to think about. First, Ndubayo, one of the ladies from the church, spoke to them. As she was finishing, she told them the following:

“You are very fortunate. You know how to speak English, and you know all these subjects… I’ve never been to school. I don’t know these things. You will have opportunities that I never had. BUT,” she said with a smile, “I have a degree! I have a degree in knowing Jesus, and that is the most important thing. You know all these things… make sure that you know about Jesus, too!”

The next night, the last night of term, the kids were given an invitation to accept what they had been learning and to give their lives to Jesus. Fifteen of them - half the school – stood up.

This little desert school is changing lives – bringing hope through both education and the gospel, and we are waiting to see how God is going to provide a way to open again in May. I’ll keep you posted! In the meantime, please pray for the school, and especially for these kids. God is doing SUCH amazing things!

This post isn’t intended to be a push for money at all, but if anyone is interested in helping out, or knows organizations who might want to help, I want to give you the opportunity. Please contact me at hello_hillary @ yahoo dot ca for information if you’d like to help!

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