July 1st, 2011 by Pam Parish
In June, a team from the church traveled to Sierra Leone for a week of ministry and a celebration of the Joshua International Primary School in Grafton Village, known locally as “Joshua School.” The school, which officially opened on September 20, 2010, provides free education to children affected by Sierra Leone’s horrific 10 year war and who are involved in various forms of child labor.
In 2008, as a church, we came together with Joshua International to focus our iCare efforts on the purchasing of land and building of this school. The campaign raised $680,000 in just six months! The project was PAID IN FULL and allowed Joshua International to move forward on construction and completion.
This beautiful country was embroiled in a devastating war that lasted more than a decade, leaving many of its citizens displaced, ill, injured and traumatized. Grafton Village was created by the Sierra Leonean government as a response to the over crowding in its capital, Freetown, by wounded and displaced refugees fleeing the rural areas during the course of the war. It is a community of 12,000+ Sierra Leoneans that is divided into four distinct camps: The Amputee Camp, The Polio Camp, the Internally Displaced Camp and The War-Wounded Camp.
The primary victims of the war were children with multiple thousands of them left orphaned, used as child soldiers, sex slaves, tortured and traumatized. Now these children exist on the streets and in villages throughout Sierra Leone, cared for by village elders or forced into child labor to survive. It is children just like this who benefit from a free education through Joshua International Primary School.
We are so proud of the work that Joshua International Ministries has done and want to say THANK YOU to all of you who gave so that this project could be completed. Here are just a few highlights of the trip:
There are currently more than 350 students served by Joshua School receiving a free education, Christ-based teaching and hot meal each day. This beautiful campus is set high upon a hill overlooking Grafton Village and can be seen from many far away provinces. On the lower side of the hill, in the shadow of Joshua School, sits one of the only former schools available in Grafton prior to Joshua School – an Islamic Education Center. Thank God for his favor in location and impact upon this community. Joshua School sits high and proud as the most beautiful and noticeable facility for miles around.
Upon arriving at the school, the children had prepared an opening ceremony to welcome our team and show their appreciation for our part in making the school available to them. This was a touching and fun time for the entire team.
While there, we also opened a medical clinic to allow the students and their families to receive free health check ups and needed medications. Over the course of our trip, we saw hundreds of patients and treated everything from minor scratches to malaria and serious wound infections. It is the goal of Joshua International to open the medical clinic on a regular basis within the next year.
Team members spent their days in the classrooms with the kids teaching them about Jesus and showing them His love:
Several of our team members taught midwife classes to women from the local community and we supplied them with child-birth kits to assist in healthy, sanitary births and their ability to help the mothers parent well and provide the right care for their babies:
In all, we spent the week loving on and being loved by the Grafton community and its precious kids.
We had spent the week trying to teach the kids about Jesus and His love, so we ended our time with them by displaying His love in the same act of service He himself used to care for the disciples – we washed over 300 children’s feet and the teachers, security guards, maintenance staff and Joshua International Sierra Leone team. It was a moment to touch each child and adult, pray over them and demonstrate the loving heart of Jesus – and, a moment that moved our team to tears.
Thank you, Victory, for your support of Joshua International Ministries and iCare. You truly are making a difference.
For the history of the project, visit these links: