Singing for joy – and success!

Singing for joy – and success!

Christian children in Bangladesh are being set up to fail. But with your support, BMS World Mission can help them to change their futures. It all starts with a song.

A rickety bus winds its way around Bangladesh. It started the journey in Dhaka, the country’s restless capital. Many hours later it reaches a village, where a little girl called Ariysha is singing a rhyme:

Boys and girls come to pick flowers
Make a garland of flowers
Place it around your neck
And go to Uncle’s house

Ariysha is at preschool. For children like her, singing songs at school is a novelty. She is used to memorising for her primary school entrance exam. If she fails, she has little chance to continue her education. Doors of opportunity will swing shut. Her world will shrink. The pressure is on for Ariysha and her classmates. And it’s a wonder they’re in preschool at all.

With cramped classes and repetitive learning, many children don’t want to attend school – especially in poor, rural areas. Instead of going to school, children from the age of four collect heavy firewood or work out in the fields. Parents are also afraid that if their children don’t get into primary school, they will need to send them away to work and support the family. Girls as young as eight can be sent to work as live-in housekeepers, whilst boys can be hired out as manual labour.

Christian children, especially, are falling behind. Christian preschools in Bangladesh lack the most funding as Christians are a minority group in the country. There are simply not enough Christians to fund the preschools. This means children like Ariysha are often in large classes, don’t have the materials they need, and don’t pass the primary school entrance exam.

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Christian children are a minority and not a priority. Without the education they need, it’s harder for them to gain further education and therefore, stable jobs, in a country where they already face persecution for their faith. But BMS is changing that.

A Bangladeshi teacher stands in front of children wearing green school uniform.
Teacher Asio Kubi now teaches his class using songs and games.

Back on the rickety bus we find BMS educational consultant, Louise Proctor. Thanks to your support, she trains teachers in 25 Christian schools across the poorest, most rural parts of Bangladesh. Travelling for more than 15 hours to reach some schools, Louise shows teachers how to use games and songs in their teaching. Research has repeatedly shown that learning through play is much more effective than by rote.

“The very small children didn’t want to come to school before because they were scared…now they come every day. They are much more eager to learn than before!” teacher Asio Kubi says. Now parents are happy, seeing their children flourish. “I learnt to teach with joy, love and encouragement,” describes Asio. When a teacher enjoys teaching, children enjoy learning.

Children who enjoy going to school and learning are more likely to succeed.

Louise’s vision for the future is to coach local trainers. With their increased insight, they will be able to apply what they’ve been taught specifically to their villages. It’s a method of multiplication, meaning more schools will provide better quality education.

A man in a blue shirt and a woman in a pink top sit together and talk about education.
Louise Proctor and Asio work together to discuss the best ways to teach the class.

Thanks to BMS supporters, Ariysha now attends school with a smile. She learns by singing, by having fun and by understanding what she’s taught. But there are still children who are being left behind. Help to make Christian children in Bangladesh a priority. Help to give them a future that doesn’t include child labour or being sent away to work. Give what you can and pray for Bangladeshi children today. You may just give them the chance to succeed where no-one else could.

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Words by Melanie Webb

Update from the frontline: Bangladesh and Nepal

Update from the frontline:

Bangladesh and Nepal

Two amazing couples. Two wonderful countries. Six incredible months. The latest from Team Lynch and Team Vokuhl.

New friendships, hard work, lots of prayer and one very embarrassing language mix-up. These past few months have certainly been challenging and rewarding ones for BMS World Mission workers the Lynches and Vokuhls. Louise and Peter Lynch are working with church leaders in Bangladesh, while Toby and Pippa Vokuhl are helping Nepal rebuild after the 2015 earthquakes. They couldn’t have got this far without your support so please read on for an update on their work.

Photo of Louise and Peter Lynch
Louise and Peter Lynch are currently based in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh.
Photo of the Vokuhl family
Pippa and Toby Vokuhl, and their children Jakey, Ella and Millie, have been adapting to life in Nepal

Tell us what it was like when you first arrived?

The Lynches:

Peter: It was a bit disorientating. We were tired, and we went straight into meeting people, being at church and getting our bearings. That was easier than going to bed though! The Proctors (BMS workers) were our chaperones for the first couple of weeks. They were really good, very kind to us.

Louise: They took us shopping, showed us how to dress, helped us buy our clothes and showed us the supermarkets. It feels like we’ve settled in well.

The Vokuhls:

Toby: When we first arrived in Pokhara we were very warmly welcomed, which was great. Our housing situation was a little bit of a challenge because our flat was still under construction and we didn’t have a kitchen at all, so for two months we were living in a building site. We now find ourselves in what is a really lovely flat, not far from the children’s school. It’s worked out really well for us as a family with our children having friends nearby.

How is the language learning going?

The Lynches:

Louise: We have completed three books, so we’ve finished the basic course. We’re given about 25 new words every day and we’ve learnt tenses we never knew about. So we’re doing our homework. We get most of right, but there is quite a lot of red ink on it most days too!

Louise and another lady are walking away from us down a Dhaka street
Louise and Peter enjoy exploring the streets of Dhaka

The most useful phrases we’ve learnt so far are things like ‘kemôn achhen,’ which is ‘how are you?’ So we spend a lot of our time saying that, and ‘bhālō,’ which means ‘fine’, ‘āstē āstē,’ which means ‘slowly slowly’, and ‘ami janina,’ which is ‘I don’t know’, or ‘I don’t understand’. I think we are the entertainment sometimes, but sometimes you just have to go for it. People come along and they come and watch us trying to speak Bangla, and it is almost a sport!

Peter: We make everyone laugh! People appreciate us trying because they’re very proud of their language and they love people trying to learn it. They’ve been great.

The Vokuhls:

Pippa: It’s hard work! We started off doing four mornings a week and we are just doing one or two now. It’s nice to have some basic conversations with friends and people at church, and the local shops, but we have a lot more hours of study ahead. I’ve had a few embarrassing moments. I went into a shop to try and ask for two kilos for carrots and I managed to ask for two kilos of marijuana. The poor shopkeeper looked extremely shocked and distressed, and then said in English, “Oh, you want carrots.” I mentioned it to my language teacher who pointed out what I’d asked for.

Toby: Our landlady seems to think we are doing well settling in. The other day I could make out her saying to me in Nepali, “Toby, you’re so fat… your wife also.” I relayed that to Pippa, but in Nepali culture when you call someone fat you are just referring to how well they are doing. It was still rather funny!

Louise and Peter give us a slice of life in Dhaka and fill us in on what they’ve been up to

What else have you been up to?

The Lynches:

Louise: We just want to build relationships and understand the culture first before leaping in. We sat alongside pastors in some training for discipleship making, I think that’s an area where we’re looking to see how we can support them and help them to put their training into action in their churches.

We’re going up to Dineshpur for a month soon, and we’ll be staying with some of the pastors who were on the training, so it’ll be interesting to see what they’re doing.

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Peter: We’ve met most of the key people we’ll be working with in Dhaka, and people from the districts have come here for conferences. It’s been great to meet pastors and regional leaders. We’re developing a really good relationship with them, they’ve been so gracious and welcoming to us.

Everyone says to us that life outside of Dhaka is very different to life in Dhaka, so it will be great for us next month to just be outside of the capital and mix with the local community there.

The Vokuhls:

Pippa: Until recently, I’ve been doing language study and orientation, and at the moment our three children (Jakey, Ella and Millie) are on school holidays so that’s keeping me out of trouble.

Toby: We were waiting for a work visa for quite some time, so we have focused quite heavily on language study, and we’ve also been attending the local church. We’ve had a slightly longer language and culture adjustment period than we expected, but it has helped, and we’re pleased to have moved into the space where I can contribute to the work here.

Life in Nepal: Pippa and Toby Vokuhl chart some of the highlights, and ask for your prayers

What’s been a highlight so far?

The Lynches:

Peter: I just enjoy the life and vitality of the city, everyone is so industrious and active, there’s so many people everywhere doing so many things. It’s an energetic, lively and colourful place. We love the people.

Louise: We like walking around and we like the buzz of the place.

The Vokuhls:

Pippa: We went as a family to have a look around some of the projects that INF (International Nepal Fellowship) is running in the west of the country in villages and hospitals. It was amazing to see some of the projects that are making a difference to the poorest of the poor in Nepal.

Toby: There has been a wealth of experiences, such as being in a different culture and in a beautiful environment when you get out into the hills and mountains. Another highlight has been being able to make a difference through my work. That has been very rewarding.

What have been some of the challenges?

The Lynches:

Peter: I think pacing ourselves has been difficult. It is hot, and you find yourself on certain days having lower energy. So, I think knowing how to pace yourself and how to navigate your way through that.

Louise: It’s hard on your downtime because it’s not a recreational city. What to do when we’re not studying Bangla is the biggest challenge for us. But we’re enjoying Bangla learning, so it’s quite a win win really, as that’s what we spend most of our time doing.

The Vokuhls:

Pippa: Subtle cultural differences that you don’t necessarily see or understand. For example, our language teacher came around and she had very bad back pain. I said she should sit on the sofa, but her feet were dangling so I got some books to put under her feet. She went very quiet and said, “Oh, in your culture do you put your feet on books? In our culture, we believe that if you put your feet on books, all the knowledge from your brain will go.”

Toby: Not being able to communicate is disempowering, such as when you can’t say what you want to say to the local shopkeeper. Another challenge is finding your way around locally.

Photo of street scene in Pokhara, featuring motorbikes and overhead cables
The Vokuhls have been working hard to find their way around the streets of Pokhara

What can people be praying for?

The Lynches:

Louise: I think for next month, that we travel and stay well in Dineshpur, and that we make the most of that chance as it’s a really unique opportunity.

Peter: We’re moving house at the beginning of September and we’re moving to an area that’s close to the office. So please pray for that process of moving and getting into a local community.

Pray too for the church in Bangladesh. They’ve got big hearts and a big vision but it’s quite tough. So pray for them, that God would empower them.

The Vokuhls

Pippa: Please pray for my ongoing language study, and also pray for developing deeper relationships with local Nepali women. I’d also appreciate prayer as I find a role for myself. Please pray that God would move me into what I can do to serve him here.

Toby: Please pray for continued cultural awareness. Please also pray for a construction project that I’m managing at the Green Pastures Hospital, where a new chapel is being built. Everyone would like that to be a success for the hospital and for the people of Pokhara.

BMS 24:7 Partners - sharing God's love with a world in need

 

 

Are you inspired by the works our mission workers are doing? You can commit to giving regularly to support the Lynches or Vokuhls by becoming a 24:7 Partner. Just click here. Thank you for standing alongside them.

You can change a child’s life by praying today

You can change a child’s life by praying today

Extreme poverty, war and discrimination are denying children their right to an education as you read this. Your generous gifts to BMS are helping us to confront this injustice. And today, we’re asking you to support our education work with prayer too. Please read, pray and share this article so we can help more children in the countries featured below access life-transforming education.

Lebanon

Syrian and Iraqi refugee children in Lebanon are getting an education, thanks to you. Children who have had their lives shattered by conflict are being given hope for the future. Not only are they being taught, they are being treated with the love and respect that every child deserves.

• Pray that these children are able to concentrate on what they’re being taught and feel safe in their environment. Pray that they would love learning.

• Pray for wisdom and energy for the teachers, as they work with children who have suffered unimaginable trauma.

Children sitting at desks in school raise their hands to answer a question
Refugee children are back in the classroom in Lebanon after fleeing the horror of conflict in Syria and Iraq.

Bangladesh

Preschools across rural, very poor parts of Bangladesh are being supported by you. Boys and girls are being taught about letters and numbers, with BMS worker Louise Proctor training local teachers to give great lessons using free or cheap resources. We’re also helping to educate the children of mission workers at a school in Dhaka.

• Pray that the preschools will be a springboard to enable children to keep attending school, and that the children will be encouraged by their parents.

• Pray that the teachers will be equipped to provide stimulating lessons for the children, and can access all the resources they need.

Children sit in lines in a shed in Bangladesh. They are all staring at a teacher who is taking the lesson.
Children in rural Bangladesh are captivated as BMS worker Louise Proctor helps with a school lesson.

Kosovo

Underprivileged children and adults from marginalised and minority people groups in Kosovo are being given the chance to learn English thanks to your support for BMS teachers. More than 50 per cent of young people in Kosovo are unemployed and 30 per cent of the population live below the poverty line.

• Pray for BMS’ education work amongst marginalised people in Kosovo.

• Pray that young girls would have equal access to education, and that our workers would have the resources to help them.

• Pray for God to guide BMS workers Rose* and Robert* as they serve in education in Kosovo.

Albania

We’re working to help children from Roma and Egyptian communities access education. These children are shunned by Albanian society and live in abject poverty. We’re also helping further God’s mission in Albania by providing education for mission workers’ children at GDQ International Christian School.

• Pray for the children who want to learn, but are stopped from attending school regularly because of reasons out of their control. Pray for a sense of hope for them.

• Pray for the children who struggle in school because of extreme poverty.

• Pray for increased resources for the science department at GDQ in Tirana, and pray for renewed energy for BMS mission workers Chris and Debbie Carter, Mat and Suzanne Gregory, and Jill Morrow.

Two girls sit at a table, drawing pictures on pieces of paper
You can help children in Albania know what it feels like to have a happy, fulfilling education.

Peru

Children from poor families attend an after-school club at the BMS-founded El Puente Baptist Church in the city of Cusco. They’re helped with their homework, learn about God, and play games.

• Pray that more children attend the club, and see the value in an education.

• Pray that other members of the church get involved and use their blessings to help the children.

• Pray for Denise and Melany, who run the club. Pray they would feel encouraged by the difference they are making to young people’s lives.

Children sit on a stage in front of musical equipment. They are smiling and waving at the camera.
These children have been learning and having fun at a BMS-founded church in Peru.

Nepal

BMS is working to transform children’s lives by improving teaching in Nepali schools. Teacher training written by BMS worker Annie Brown is being rolled out across the country. We do this work in partnership with the Kathmandu International Study Centre (KISC), where mission workers’ children are taught, with BMS support.

• Pray for the Nepali teachers receiving training, sometimes for the first time. Pray that they would go on to transform the lives of the children in their classrooms.

• Pray that poverty won’t stop children in Nepal attending school. Pray they would have all they need to learn.

• Pray for the students preparing to sit exams at KISC, and for the KISC staff as they settle into the school’s new site.

Two girls sitting at desks look at a school book
Children in Nepal have been learning through new teaching methods, thanks to your support for school teachers in the country.

Guinea

Boys from deprived communities are learning formal rules and structure through a football club set up by BMS mission worker Ben*.

Summer classes have also been set up by Ben and his wife Isabelle* – who is a teacher – helping not only the boys, but other children, too.

• Pray that the boys would continue to be inspired to learn and develop, and that education and football would give them a great sense of self-worth.

• Pray for Ben, that he would have the resources, time and energy he needs to help the boys who come to him.

Players of the Blessed Boys Football Club in Guinea train and play a match.
Boys in Guinea are not only improving their football skills thanks to your support, they’re being helped with their schoolwork too.

China

We support teachers in China, helping students at a nursing college improve their English language skills.

• Pray the students would feel encouraged in their studies, and form strong friendships with their classmates.

• Pray for energy for our workers, in both their teaching and in their personal relationships.

India

Street children in Kolkata are learning reading, writing and arithmetic through the BMS-supported Street Servants team, led by our worker Ben Francis. Our team is working hard to set up a second school, which will give more children a chance to learn the skills they need to change their futures. We also support other education initiatives in India.

• Pray that children at the street school would have an incredible appetite for learning. Pray they would sense God’s presence in their lessons.

• Pray that the children’s parents would understand the importance of a good education, and would continue to allow their children to attend the school.

A girl walks towards other children standing under a bridge in India
School is being brought to street children in Kolkata, giving them the opportunity to learn.

Mozambique

Young children from poor backgrounds are being given the best possible preparation for school through the PEPE preschool initiative started and supported by BMS. Children are being taught important lessons like colours, numbers and the alphabet in creative ways.

• Pray that the children enjoy their preschool lessons and want to keep learning.

• Pray for the resources to help more children from disadvantaged communities.

• Pray for BMS worker Liz Vilela, who has been training new PEPE teachers in child protection. Pray that Liz would find ways to overcome any obstacles she faces in her work, and that the teachers put into practice what they’ve learnt.

Children in Mozambique pray during a school lesson
Children in Mozambique are not only being given a preschool education, they are also learning about Jesus.

Education is critical in helping children who are poor, disadvantaged and persecuted walk towards a better life – a life that we know is possible.

Through your donations and prayers you are enabling us to help children access education. Please share this story right now to encourage others to pray.

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Are you a teacher? Come and work with us

Inspired by the education work we do? We’re looking for teachers to serve in countries such as Uganda, Afghanistan, Guinea and Albania.

You can be the person who helps change a young person’s life for the better. Take the first step by clicking here to find out more. We’d love to hear from you.

* Names changed for security reasons

You’re giving so much more than just presents this Christmas

You’re giving so much more than just presents this Christmas

Here are some of the ways you’ve helped people in desperate need this year.

A tarpaulin. A plastic groundsheet. Some thermal underwear. Did these items make your Christmas wish list?

You’ve given these – and other great gifts – to people in desperate need this year.

You’re providing a lifeline for Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Burma (Myanmar), and keeping hundreds of people warm in the harshness of a Ukraine winter.

As you wrap your presents and prepare for Christmas, consider this our thank you note for what you’ve already given. And a reminder of the suffering you’re helping to alleviate, in Jesus’ name, every time you give to BMS World Mission.

Refugees look through a gap in their shelter in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.
Vital aid is reaching refugees in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, thanks to your donations. Photo by Medair/Nath Fauveau.

Rohingya refugee crisis

The Rohingya people have witnessed their loved ones being raped, beaten and executed, and their villages reduced to ashes in a brutal military offensive. The scale of the terror inflicted by Burma’s soldiers is unimaginable, as is the exodus of those being targeted. More than 650,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed from Burma’s northern Rakhine State into Cox’s Bazar district in southern Bangladesh since August. Hundreds are still crossing every day, many of them children who have run for their lives.

How you are helping: By giving to BMS you’re helping more than 500 refugees. They arrive at camps exhausted, hungry and traumatised. They have next to nothing. The tarpaulin, ground sheet and stretch of nylon rope you’ve funded for these refugees are providing shelter. Thanks to you, Rohingya people have protection from the elements, and women can maintain their dignity thanks to hygiene kits containing sanitary products. People will also receive soap for washing and laundry, as well as a cup and a three-litre water jug.

Ukraine

The conflict that erupted in eastern Ukraine in 2014 between pro-Russian separatists and pro-Ukrainian groups has displaced 1.5 million people and killed at least 10,000. Government pensions and social benefits have been stopped for people living in areas under separatist control, while schools and hospitals have also had their funding halted.

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How you are helping: The temperature in eastern Ukraine is expected to drop to -7 degrees Celsius early on Christmas Day, and it could drop as low as -28 later in the winter. You’re providing over 1,000 people with coal, firewood, ceramic heaters and wood burners so they can survive, and children are being given thermal underwear.

Rachel Conway-Doel, our Relief Facilitator, talks about the crisis in Ukraine and what you can be praying for.

Syria conflict

Lebanon continues to host the highest concentration of refugees per capita in the world, with an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees and over 15,000 people from Iraq living there. Close to half of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon are children.

How you are helping: You’ve already helped dozens of children who have had their access to education shattered by conflict, and that support continues.

Thanks to your giving, at least 30 more refugee children are being taught English, Arabic and maths this school year, and doing what every child has a right to do – play.

Refugee children sit behind desks during a class in Lebanon.
Refugee children in Lebanon are being given an education thanks to you.
Your support this year has been amazing – look at what else you’ve done!

Mozambique — You gave food to 1,000 people affected by a fuel tanker explosion in Mozambique.

Haiti — You helped provide cholera prevention and treatment through water filtration after Hurricane Matthew.

Nepal — You provided food, blankets and medicine to more than 1,100 people following severe monsoon flooding.

Philippines — You helped to give medical check-ups and disaster training for community leaders following July’s earthquake.

Bangladesh — You helped to fund the rebuilding of 50 family homes destroyed by landslides in June.

South Sudan/Uganda — You gave food, tools and seeds to over 1,000 South Sudanese people in danger of starving.

No matter how much you gave this year, you made a difference. People you will never meet have been fed, sheltered and comforted thanks to your kindness. We thank you for all that you have done, and can’t wait to see what we can achieve together in 2018. Happy Christmas from all of us at BMS.