The words on the sign at Qomo-Qomong Primary School were striking to me: Troubled But Not Destroyed.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
The words on the sign at Qomo-Qomong Primary School were striking to me: Troubled But Not Destroyed. Most, if not all, schools have a motto, many of which run along the lines of something positive like “Education is the Key to the Future.” The Qomo-Qomong words were certainly not your usual words of encouragement. At first I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. I happened to be there on a Sunday and there wasn’t anyone around who knew about the origin of the motto. I’ve since asked a number of people about it, but so far its genesis remains elusive. I found the sign intriguing. Realizing that it is a school of the Lesotho Evangelical Church, my hunch is that it comes from the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians as quoted above. (I still don’t know what to make of the image of the large ship on the open water, here in land-locked Lesotho. A patrol boat, perhaps, warding off danger?)
One doesn’t immediately associate trouble with a primary school. But schools do face many challenges in Lesotho. Class sizes of 100 pupils or more are not unheard of. Only about 60% of the primary school teachers are qualified; for high schools the figure is about 75%. A large number of schools lack adequate numbers of desks and chairs for the students. More than half of the primary school students will repeat at least one year before completing their seven years of primary education. One article I read estimated that only 1 out of 8 students entering primary school will eventually complete high school.
Still, things could be worse. Primary education is now free and was recently made compulsory by law (compliance is estimated to be around 90%). These steps have allowed greater access to education. More schools are being built in rural areas, though attracting teachers to those areas remains difficult.
At Masitise High School we have overcrowded classrooms and other problems, but we are blessed with sources of support. A few months ago a group of former students donated their labor, as well as providing all the painting equipment, to spruce up some of our classroom buildings. They also brought seedlings to plant around the campus. Many of our current students helped, too.
Besides schools having problems, the students have their own problems to deal with. Pictured at left is Keneuoe, one of my better math students in Form D. Her father is a miner in South Africa, but the miners at his mine have been on strike now for nearly two years with no resolution in sight. Pictured at right are two brothers, Tsoarelo and Sebabatso. Sebabatso, the older of the two, is a classmate of Keneuoe’s. His father died almost four years ago. He’d been working as a gardener in South Africa. His mother spends most of her time in South Africa looking for piece work. Meanwhile, the two boys live alone in their grandmother’s house which is about a mile from the school. The grandmother passed away back in February. Troubled, but not destroyed.
Given the current financial situations of their families, none of these three students would be in school if it were not for the assistance they are receiving from the school from gifts made to Global Ministries which benefit them and other students who are in need of financial help to continue their education. These gifts come from generous churches and individuals for which we are very grateful!
Donated funds are also supporting the Scripture Union group. We recently gave new bibles to some of the Form E students who will be completing their studies at Masitise soon. They are pictured with Mrs. Salemane, my co-worker with the group. Our prayer is that God’s Word will stay close to them in the years to come, so that whatever difficulties they may encounter they may say as Paul does in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “Therefore, we do not lose heart.”
May God bless you all for your prayers, interest and support of Global Ministries! Thank you for making a difference in the lives of our students.
Yours in Christ,
Mark Behle is a missionary with the Lesotho Evangelical Church. He is a Mathematics teacher at Masitise High School, Lesotho.