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Guinea: construction, counting and confidence

Young Guineans are growing in knowledge and self-esteem thanks to BMS World Mission

When Lucy* and Mac* arrived in Guinea in 2015 to serve with BMS, they spotted in the market that traders sometimes struggled to work out how much change to give them when they paid for goods. They heard about children who weren’t going to school because their parents could not afford to pay for uniforms or books. When Lucy started a craft club with some girls who lived nearby, she noticed the eight-year-olds couldn’t do some things that her eldest son Isaac* (aged three) could already do, even though they were at school. 
For the last six months, Lucy and Mac have been teaching everything from carpentry to numeracy, transforming lives in West Africa.

Building skills

Like all BMS workers, Mac’s hope is built on the Rock of Ages and he drinks from the source of living water, so masonry and plumbing have also been on the agenda at the skills centre he’s been working at the last six months. Teaching around twelve young men carpentry seemed a good place for a Christian to start. The students learn everything from scratch, and when we say scratch, we mean it. To make gravel, for instance, they have to break stones down and wash them. Timber is not bought from a DIY store but prepared, hand cut and set aside to dry. “It is very labour intensive,” says Mac. And the hard work is paying off.

Mac and his students have been learning to make desirable furniture like wardrobes, beds and desks. They have also worked on construction, learning to build houses (on firm foundations, naturally!). Each of Mac’s students receives a living wage and a hearty lunch every day for his hard work and gets additional training in life skills.

A balanced education is essential for success in Guinea. That’s why passing regular maths tests is one of the requirements for those waiting to stay in training. One student, Sam*, was in danger of losing his place until Mac got involved. Mac gave him some extra tuition twice a week and slowly things improved. “You could see the excitement in his face once he finally twigged that he is able to do it and do it quite easily,” Mac says. “It was really encouraging to see him pick up quite so well.” Sam passed his next maths test with ease.

Getting ready for school

While Mac was training young men to become wise builders, Lucy was letting the little children come to her, helping young kids get a good start to their education. She helped run a small preschool for Guinean and ex-pat children, building important relationships with the parents. She also got involved in some of the lessons, teaching the children about colours and numbers, where she soon found that the children were not used to being in a school environment. Part of what she did was help the children develop a desire and motivation to learn and get the support of their parents too.

“Initially the children could be quite boisterous, but gradually over time they got used to a bit more structure and listening to the teacher,” she says. The children not only were enjoying preschool but were gaining in knowledge and confidence.

Building for the future – and how you can help

Lucy and Mac, along with their sons Isaac and Noah*, are taking what they have learned to a new part of Guinea. Mac will work at a local skills training centre where he can enable more students like Sam get the knowledge they require for a decent career in construction. Lucy is going to explore opening a small preschool to help children get the best possible start in life. "Having experienced it now, it has given me the confidence that this is something that I could do,” Lucy says. 
Thanks to your support, Lucy and Mac are about to help more lives to be transformed in this Muslim-majority country.

Could you support Lucy and Mac as they seek to transform more young lives in Guinea? Become a 24:7 Partner today, for as little as £3 a month, and make more work like this possible.

*Names changed

This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission.   

BMS World Mission, 24/01/2017
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