A OneChild leader in Africa assesses the challenges that communities living in poverty face and shares his hope for the ministry and the kids enrolled in OneChild’s program.
Africa is beautiful and blessed. Its beauty includes geographical features, numerous natural resources, minerals, and wildlife.
Hapi Wanje is the OneChild Africa Regional Program Support Manager for Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. OneChild supports over 12,000 registered kids across 55 Hope Centers in these countries.
Hapi says that beyond the physical beauty that Africa is blessed with, Africans also are beautiful.
“Africa is beautiful because people value and honor people, and they also value relationships,” he says.
Despite being blessed enormously, Africa, like any other continent in the world, has impoverished communities.
The high poverty levels in Africa have been caused by a lack of good leadership, Hapi says. The lack of leadership has also led to unequal distribution of national resources and has, in turn, caused some communities to be marginalized. Resources include water, schools, hospitals, security, and road infrastructure.
“Apart from the physical resources not being equally distributed to all communities in each country, opportunities, too, are not equally spread out,” Hapi says. “Most of our young generation that lives out of the cities and in marginalized communities are less exposed to opportunities and in most cases, very few dare to dream big.”
In Africa, poverty looks like a child and their family not knowing whether they will have their next meal or even whether the child will attend school. Child hunger is very real to these families. Impoverished families lack basic needs like health care, a roof over their heads, and, at times, clothing.
Creating Safe Spaces for Children
Hapi also notes that beyond physical poverty, mental poverty is witnessed in poor communities. Hope is hard to find.
“I have seen the poverty of the mind. Most families cannot tell of the resources that God has given them, and neither do they know how to utilize those resources. Their minds and eyes have not been opened, we have lacked to shine the light to people, to help change their mindset,” he says.
However, OneChild has over the years stepped in to fill the gaps in some of the impoverished communities in these countries. OneChild has partnered with churches to create safe spaces, the Hope Centers, for children to learn and be transformed.
The presence of these Hope Centers has allowed children to dream big, thanks to the many Child Champions at the centers who inspire the children and hold their hands as they journey toward their dreams.
These safe spaces have also allowed these kids to discover and nurture their talents through a variety of activities. And with donations from our sponsors, resources like food, school uniforms, clothes, shoes, and medical care are provided to the kids.
Beyond the provision of physical needs, kids learn income-generating skills and opportunities at the Hope Centers. They also get to learn about Jesus, and this has in turn helped their families get to know Jesus.
Youths Are the Future
Having led Africa for more than three years, Hapi’s vision is for the church to open their eyes to the great resource that the continent has, which is the young generation.
According to a 2019 report by the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings, 60% of Africa’s 1.25 billion people are younger than 25.
“Can the church wake up and see the potential that lays before them, for the future of the church, community, country, and the continent?” he asks. “Can they pour into the young generation? Because, if this is the resource that God has given us, then why not work with the youths and give them opportunities that will allow them to explore and give them a space to contribute and be key players.”
Hapi also looks forward to the immense growth of the number of kids sponsored by OneChild. He hopes that Africa will in the next 10 years have registered 100,000 kids.
He also hopes that the kids can be independent adults in the future who seek to make a change and be a blessing to the world.
“I hope that they will be able to go places that God enables them to go and make a significant contribution in the lives of others. I pray that they will be able to spot a need and realize that they can attend it. I want them to be change-makers!”
He adds, “In the Bible, Jesus says ‘Now you go and do likewise’. With what the Child Champions have taught them and how sponsors have helped change their lives, they should be able to spread hope, love, and mercy wherever they go and be the light of Christ in every opportunity that they have.”
Provide love, encouragement and care to a child living in poverty with sponsorship through OneChild.
Meet Jacob, a Child Champion who bears the scars of poverty and passionately advocates for kids in hard places:
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