The reality is that many of the gifts we give and receive this Christmas will be forgotten about once we reach January - put away in shelves, sock drawers and book cases, just to be used very occasionally if at all. But every now and again a gift is given which is life changing for the person receiving it. That's part of what makes the Christmas story so powerful, God giving us the gift of his son to make salvation available to all of us.
I don't know how your Christmas shopping is going, I'm doing OK although I'm not too sure many of the gifts I give this year will fall in the life changing category! However, I want to talk about one gift we can all get involved in giving this Christmas which will be life changing, the gift of a safe education for girls in Serenje in Zambia.
Several years ago the community in Serenje identified a problem, which was that many girls there never completed their secondary school education. This was particularly true of the girls from rural areas, who were forced to live alone in a slum area in Serenje during term time as it is too far to walk every day (many live more than 20 miles from the school). Here is one of those girls (on the left) in front of her 'house' in the slum area.
It is estimated that only about 5% of these girls complete their secondary school education due to the conditions they have to live in - many of them get pregnant and end up being HIV positive. Just imagine for a moment if this girl was your sister or your daughter, what would you give in order for her to have the education which could truly transform her life.
The communities solution was to build a dormitory to provide a safe place for 100 of these girls to live during term time. About three years ago we got involved with this project, raising £125,000 for the building, Howard Reece-Smith and a bunch of cycling buddies raising £15,000 for the fitting out, and Ralph Allen (the Kerith Centre architect and part of our community) designing it all. Building has now started which is so exciting, and we're hoping and praying that girls will be in there by May 2014.
However, £125,000 which was the estimated cost when the project was first proposed has now turned in to £196,000, which leaves us needing to raise another £71,000 (plus we may need to raise a bit more if the fit out costs go above £15,000).
Having just burst through the finish line with our Give to Grow gift days, raising more than the £310,000 target we set at the start of the year, I have total confidence that God is going to provide again to give all that is needed to get the dormitory built. We've identified a number of ways in which we could raise the money required, which are:
- We are applying for grants from a number of grant making organisations. These grant applications are going in next week - please be praying these prove to be successful. Also if anyone knows of any organisations giving grants for this sort of project then please let us know.
- We have set up a Just Giving page for anyone who would like to give to the project. If everyone who visited my blog over a month gave £10 we'd reach the target :)
- We've made it possible to give via mobile phone. You can text DORM10 followed by any amount (e.g. DORM 10 £10) to 70070 to make a donation. You will then get a confirmation text with a link to a page where you can add your name and address in order to gift aid the donation.
- Our Christmas Day offering will be for the Girl's Dormitory. Please be thinking about what you can give in order to change lives this Christmas.
I believe that as we do what we can do, then God will once again step in and do what only He can do. Let's believe for the whole of the £71,000 to come in before it is needed, and let's do what each of us can do to contributing to the total. Thank you.
I'll leave you with a couple more photos of the construction. I can't wait until the day I can blog photos of the first girls morning in - that will be a truly life changing day for each of them.