June 2018

Village Altonodji: A Year Restored, Challenges Ahead

In January, a nationwide teachers strike started because of cuts in salaries and missed payroll payments. For security reasons, Village Altonodji needed to close and the orphans were sent out to their extended families or local host families.

In February, Mission:Chad board members John Wickberg and Pastor Buz McNutt visited Village Altonodji, but found it completely empty except for the administrative staff and the workers at the health clinic that serves VA and the local community. At that time, no one knew when the strike would end, they were hoping soon, because if it went too much longer the entire school year would need to be repeated.

An empty village, but the plaque in the foreground reminds us of God's faithfulness since construction started in 2006.

We thank God that the strike did end in early March, after about 8 weeks of having all schools in Chad closed. The VA school administrators were able to develop a plan so that with a modestly extended school year - ending in late June rather than early June - students would be able to complete the requirements for the current school year.

But there are still challenges ahead as we look toward the next school year.

The first challenge will be having sufficient funds for the orphans residing on the center. Mission:Chad is currently the only organization that will be providing funds for the next school year. Our goal in the past has been to supply funds for 60 orphans and some extra to help with maintaining the center. Two other organizations have been helping so that there was the possibility of having all 160 beds on the center being used. Both the other organizations have stopped their funding because of either a change in ministry focus or the ending of grants that had been used to fund VA.

The other challenge is that the school at VA has been having about 500 paying students from the local community and this has helped make the school a source of income. Because of the poor economic situation in Chad, many families have not been able to make their school fee payments. If this trend continues, it will become more expensive to keep the school open.

Because of this situation, Pastor Bako, the founder of VA who is currently living in Ivory Coast, will be taking a trip to Chad at the end of June to meet with the SCPEDT board (the Chadian NGO that owns VA) and the administrative staff to determine the best course of action for the fall. We ask you to be praying about the details of this trip and for all involved to have wisdom and imagination about what should be done.

It can be disheartening if we focus on the current difficulties and forget how God has worked over the years. We have seen the entire compound built - over the course of 10 years it has gone from an empty field to a K-12 school with a chapel, a sewing school, a clinic and dorms for 160 orphans. In 2007, we had interviews with orphans who expressed hopes of graduating from college and we have seen some of these dreams come to pass as orphans graduating from VA were helped to start college.

The picture of this orphan reminds us of the joy the children have when they consider having three meals a day, their own bed (some have never had one before), a chance to go to school, caring Christian teachers and kind widows providing for them. We thank you for being part of providing this care over the years. As we remember the great work God has done, we can have hope for greater things to come.

Breaking News:

As this article was being written, we received news that nationwide teacher strikes have started again in Chad because of a break down in the agreement made in March. Pray that both sides can come to a common agreement soon.

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...there are still challenges ahead as we look toward to the next school year.
...Mission:Chad is currently the only organization that will be providing funds for the next school year.

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