How do you teach computers without electricity?

Many of these children had never touched a computer before the school opened the lab. (Image by AMG International).

Many of these children had never touched a computer before the school opened the lab (Image by AMG International).

Uganda (MNN) — In the last few years, primary schools in the United States have switched from desktop computers to lap tops to iPods to iPads. Some high schools are even offered completely online.

As technology changes the face of education in the West, it’s slowly showing up in developing countries as well.

An opportunity knocking

AMG International works with the Upendo Christian Academy in Uganda where in early June a brand new computer lab was opened.

Pete Lafakis of AMG says, “Of course it’s an incredible blessing to that community because they’ve never had anything like this before. It’s opening up a whole new door of opportunities for the children there.”

The students, most of whom have never touched a computer, are learning how to work the computers to do their school work.

Lafakis explains that it may be the only computer the children ever get to use. It is difficult to continue on to college in Uganda without a sponsor paying for it. These classes in the computer lab provide a good foundation of computer skills for later on in life and provide better opportunities to succeed.

Even better, the novelty of computer classes provides an opportunity to share news of eternal value.

Lafakis explains, “The community that this school is in is predominately Muslim, and a lot of the children that come from the outside community are Muslim. So it’s providing them with the opportunity to come in and to learn not only computer knowledge, but as well, they’re hearing the Gospel every day that they’re there.”

Many times the parents of these children come to see what their children are doing and encounter the Gospel. Sometimes there are opportunities for the school staff to visit homes and share this news to whole families.

But it’s never that easy.

The problem with having computer labs, however, is their dependence on electricity. In Uganda, there are blackouts on a regular basis, whether for minutes or for weeks.

Not having electricity makes it difficult to teach the children much more than the parts of the computer.

Lafakis says, “Even when it’s working at its best, it can be spotty. They do it to conserve energy. So it could come on, you might have it for six or seven hours during the day, and at night, they shut it off.”

In a world increasingly saturated with technology, this is hard to relate to.

“Electricity is important,” Lafakis says. “It’s difficult to have it. We get so used to it being just a light switch away. But in Uganda, that’s not the case. It’s really a blessing to have it. And you’re not sure how long you’ll have it, or when it will come back on.”

What you can do:

AMG asks you to pray for electricity for the Upendo Christian Academy.

Here are some other ways to pray, too.

“Pray for the students there, for opportunities to share the Gospel with their parents. [Pray] for the school to have a greater influence in the community, to reach more and more families with the truth about Christ because that’s what’s going to make a difference in their community,” Lafakis says.

Upendo Christian Academy is considering expanding their ministry through separate facilities on the campus. Please pray for wisdom for the leaders as they consider these possibilities.

God’s faithfulness

Lafakis says it is amazing to see the school where it is today compared to where it was just six years ago.

He visited in 2008 to pray over the property. Lafakis says that the land they wanted to purchase was essentially a jungle. They prayed for it to be cleared and purchased, and that one day a school would sit there.

“To go back there today and to see a school with classrooms, a big auditorium, dorms, dispensary, a daycare center, and then a couple of buildings for some of the administrators to live on campus is just an incredible thing to see. God has really been good.”

Want to see for yourself? Check out a short-term mission opportunity to go to Upendo Christian Academy. Click here for information.