15 years of life-transforming learning in Mozambique
More than 10,000 children have benefitted from a preschool programme supported by BMS World Mission
There has been a big celebration in Mozambique to mark a momentous anniversary: a BMS-supported project which has given more than 10,000 disadvantaged children the opportunity to go to preschool, is 15 years old.
One of the children transformed by the preschool education programme, PEPE, in Mozambique is Luis, who was a very troubled three-year-old. His father had died and his mother had abandoned him. He was effectively an orphan and was being looked after by his grandma. Luis was angry and aggressive and he would spend lots of time on the street, running after cars and throwing stones at them.
When he got a free place at a PEPE in the city of Beira, Luis was a challenging student. He would hit teachers and other classmates and often cried, saying he was hungry. The staff gave him food to satisfy his hunger, but disciplining Luis for his violent outbursts didn’t seem to work. In the end, prayer was the answer. Every time Luis hit someone he would go to the principal who would pray for him and slowly he began to hit others less. “Today he is a different child than the one that we knew,” the principal says. “He prays and participates well in the devotional time with God and everything has really changed.”
Luis, is one of over 10,000 young lives that have been changed by the PEPE preschool programme since 2001, when the programme began running in Mozambique. PEPE was founded by former BMS mission workers Georgie and Stuart Christine when they saw a need for preschool education for disadvantaged children when serving in Brazil in 1992. The BMS-supported venture was such a success, that PEPEs are now running in countries across South American and Africa.
PEPE in Mozambique
• First country outside Brazil to launch PEPE
• Approximately 10,000 children gone through PEPEs in last 15 years
• Now being run in 58 locations with over 3,500 children attending
• Over 2,200 families been visited by PEPE staff in the last two terms
The success of PEPEs in Mozambique has been down partly to it answering a huge problem for parents. The paradox they face is that preschool is a luxury, but it is also essential to the development of children. The cost of sending a child to a preschool is on average £45 a month – some parents earn just £25 a month in total. For those families, normal preschool is simply not an option. But with huge classes and academic pressure, half of all children in Mozambique do not progress beyond primary school. By getting a good start on their education at a preschool, children have a much better chance at succeeding at school.
PEPE, while not completely free (except in some circumstances like Luis), is easily affordable to most families, costing between £2 and £4 a month. It gives children the chance to learn and engage in activities they would never get to do at home, while learning the basics like letters and colours. “PEPE is exciting for children. They get to play with their friends and have some fun,” says BMS worker Liz Vilela, who is working alongside the national co-ordinator for PEPE in Mozambique as he organises the programme. “The opportunity to go to preschool wouldn’t be there if there wasn’t PEPE.”
The families of children who go to PEPEs are visited regularly, enabling churches that run the programme to build relationships with them. PEPE has made a huge impact on the lives of many children – and there’s still more to be done.
“Every year there are new PEPEs opening, “says Liz. I think churches are seeing the importance of their role in the community and how PEPE can be a tool to help families and to show them Jesus.”
Through education we can enable thousands of people to get out of poverty. Help BMS World Mission impact more young lives by giving to BMS today.
Photos by Ian White
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission.