2019 Panguma Scholarship Campaign

MAY 13, 2019

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Children. So many children! This is what is most memorable to me as I think back to the day of our arrival in the village of Panguma. Many, many, many children approaching our cars. Hands out and reaching for ours. So many smiles of welcome! Holding hands through the car window as we tried to make our way into the town. Soon, it became obvious that we needed to get out of the cars. We were instantly surrounded by children. I found their searching, eager hands in mine. Some were playing handmade drums, some were singing in English as well as Mende, and some were pushing others out of the way in order to reach us. All of their faces, adults as well as children, were happy faces filled with relief that we were there, and the continued hope that we were going to continue the work that God had laid on our hearts. And of course, we are. 

Camp Hill UMC has been at work in Sierra Leone for 10 years. We have, by the grace and power of Jesus Christ, done amazing things in this community, which is quickly growing into a town. One of the most amazing things that has happened in this place, which has Christians, Muslims, and Catholics living side by side in peace, is the awakening of the need and the desire for education. The people understand the value of education as we’ve been providing scholarships to children from Preschool all the way up to Secondary School for years now. Because of this incredible commitment from our “at home” team (you!), many more children are becoming aware of the benefits of education and the opportunities that can flow from that knowledge.

On our second day in town, one of things on our long list of activities for the day, was the school feeding. I had no idea how this was going to look as I had only heard stories, and couldn’t quite picture it in my head. First, we went to the Preschool rooms. Young children of about 4 years old, in their school uniforms, welcomed us with singing and smiles. As I began to pass out the containers of hot food, which contained rice and meat, prepared by Elizabeth Ndoeka and crew, the pensive students grew quiet. They each received a lidded container of food, a small packet of cookies, and a drink, as well as plasticware and a napkin. First, a prayer was said, and then they could eat! I had expected them to dive right in! I expected to see starving children eating greedily. I didn’t see this at all. Instead, I saw children staring wide-eyed at me. Children who didn’t open up their food. As I encouraged them to eat, and showed them how to open the containers, I noticed that even though they knew how to open the containers now, some still didn’t eat. This was the same in each classroom, Preschool up to level 5. We passed out the food to eager, expectant children, but still some didn’t eat. Then, I realized the problem. They wanted to save their food until they were at home with their families so that they could share. This hit me hard! Do you know how many times I pass out snacks to children in PA, only to find the food thrown away? These children are the hungry children in Africa that I’ve heard about all of my life.

These absolutely beautiful children, in these poorly supplied classrooms, are students of the school. Many of them are scholarship students. We are the only church that supports this extremely impoverished town, in Sierra Leone, which is the 8th poorest country in the world (verified today). Scholarships send students to school. Schooling provides knowledge. Knowledge creates a desire to learn more. Knowing more will give people in our town of Panguma confidence that they have the ability and opportunity to help themselves and their families. It comes down to Scholarships though. We need to step forward into the opportunity that we have to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and not away from it. How great is it that each year that we go to Panguma we see growth? In the town, in the schools, in growing neighborhoods? At $60, $75, and $135 per year for school scholarships, I know that God has given us the ability to exceed our own expectation for how we can help these beautiful children and teachers. Let’s do it Camp Hill UMC!! We have a goal. I would LOVE to see us exceed that goal with excitement in what God is doing through all of us!! 

Thank you in advance for what God is about to do through you!

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Chris Wilcox
2019 Panguma Travel Team Member 

HOW CAN I HELP?

• Stop by the Mission Hub for a donation form.

• Visit pushpay.com/g/camphillumc to give online. Choose Panguma Scholarship under the “Fund” drop-down menu, or just type Panguma Scholarship in memo.

• Place a check in the offering with Panguma Scholarship in memo.