First Day of School During the Pandemic
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power,
and of love, and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7KJV
There is always an explosion of heightened emotions on the first day of school. This year these emotions were even higher for our little ones as they had not seen their classmates for more than six months. What exactly goes on in their hearts and minds is hard to say. But all of us at BOL Ministries are convinced two significant factors can break the cycle of poverty for our precious children, and one of them is school/education. Let me give you some statistics a ministry friend shared with me that apply to Romania.
• Human trafficking is still a significant problem in Romania
• Almost a quarter of the teenage mothers in the EU live in Romania
• Only 54% of Romania’s population had access to sewage systems in 2019
• Over 30% of Romanian children live in households without an indoor toilet. (EU average is 2.6%) At the same time, a report from the Ministry of Education showed that, three years ago, 2,219 schools in Romania didn’t have indoor sanitary facilities. In 2018, 1,489 schools and kindergartens were still operating with non-compliant sanitary facilities, and at the beginning of spring 2019, 1,180 schools were still in the same situation.
And to add to all of this, you have the COVID pandemic. Influenced by this, it is no wonder many children abandon school and run away trying to find a solution, only to end up as victims of abuse of so many kinds. We are thankful to God and our ministry friends for the decent facilities and sufficient food we can provide for the 90 children cared for in BOLCH and YTP. Furthermore, our recent appeal helped almost 300 children with backpacks, school supplies, and very much needed hygiene and protection kits. With the basic needs met, our qualified staff and volunteers are tutoring the children to help them acquire the knowledge and skills they need for future jobs.
The COVID reality we now face brings about new needs. School started just a few days ago, and all of our children are currently attending in person. But in-person attendance is a very fragile reality that can quickly change to online studies. To prepare for the likely possibility of online classes, we need to have enough laptops or tablets in the home to accommodate all the children in different class levels. We need at least 14 laptops/tablets, and their average cost is around $100. A request for laptops and tablets might sound like a strange request, but this has become part of the basics during COVID times. It is heartbreaking to see the mixed feelings our children have. They are concerned about how tomorrow will look, and although our team feels this concern as well, we try to hide the worry because we do not want to add to the children’s burden.
The second factor, which is much more important than education, is God’s personal touch. Many times over the 17 years that BOLCH has been in the line of rescuing children, I have seen God touch lives. Knowledge and abilities are essential, but without a renewal of the heart and mind, these are merely able to prolong the inevitable, a failed life. Even though we give 100% of our abilities to teach them about God and His plan for their life, they desperately need that moment when they meet Him and accept him as their personal Savior. Without this, our mission is not complete.
When I see the faces of our children leaving for the first day of school, I see their timid smile and hesitant walk. Of course, they are scared. Breathing through a mask for hours and seeing all your friends do the same is troublesome. But we believe that God did not give us a spirit of fear, and we teach our children the same. Please pray for our children during these difficult times. But also pray that God will use these times to bring them closer to Him, and to realize through Him our life has a purpose. Our children need to meet Jesus, and it is our fervent prayer that they will.
Yes, we always need finances to cover current needs and additional materials, but just as much, we need God to touch their hearts and make a long-lasting change. Please join us in this material and spiritual battle. To God, be the victory.