Elim has been reaching out to teach others for nearly thirty years, yet we continually grow in our ability to understand the best approaches in learning and sharing. Right now, Outreach offers support and collaboration to 15 programs for persons with disabilities locally and internationally, and this may increase to 20 by the end of the 2016 fiscal year. The Elim Outreach Network includes (but is not limited to) leaders from local and national Christian schools as well as global disability ministry leaders.
Local Christian Schools
Elim Outreach works with Christian schools locally and nationally to help children with disabilities continue their education within their own Christian school. Previously, Outreach support in these schools included testing services and consultation, but Outreach is working to transition to a school wide scope of support. Monthly on-site consultative support in the local programs began in October, 2015, to observe both general education classrooms and direct service rooms, respond to referrals for evaluation, and collaborate on the yearly goals between the school and Elim. In addition, new professional development opportunities have been launched to support the teachers and administrators partnering with Elim to support individuals with disabilities in their schools, including monthly professional development and collaboration meetings which began in September, 2015.
International Ministry Leaders
Elim Outreach is currently sharing Elim’s expertise and providing support for disability ministries internationally in the following 6 countries:
Ashish Centre for the Differently Abled, Delhi India
17 special education staff in India received in depth teaching on a Christian worldview of disabilities. Throughout the three month learning series Geeta Mondol facilitates at the Ashish Center participants learned that the key to successful programming is to first understand the value and potential of those with disabilities because they are made in the image of God. She explains to students that people with disabilities are not mistakes to be fixed or ignored. She teaches that they are perfect in God’s eyes and therefore a foundational approach to support is to seek out their gifts and potential for playing an active role in society. Geeta believes that the greatest outcome of this learning series is the opportunity to “bring the gospel into the field of disabilities”. For those in India this truth may not only impact the manner in which they work with those with disabilities, but may also plant a seed of faith and understanding for God’s word in their own hearts.
Participants who meet expectations will receive a ‘Certificate of Completion’ from Ashish in collaboration with Elim in November. Geeta tells us that this certificate carries much wait in India because a U.S. based agency with over 60 years of experience in the field was involved in the teaching experience. Geeta reports that those who obtain this certificate will increase in their career opportunities for working with those with disabilities and it is her secret (or not so secret) desire that they will take what they learned about the gospel and disabilities and apply it all throughout India. The fee for this learning series is nominal so that low-income families and individuals can participate, yet it does provide a small income for the Ashish Center.
Elim’s on-going role in this outreach program is to provide suggestions for how to develop and improve the overall structure of the program so that parents, professionals and others in the community will want to participate. Elim also develops and shares instructional resources used in the series. As participants complete assignments, Elim and Trinity Christian College (Sara Baillie) assist with reviewing participant work providing thoughtful feedback.
Tesoros de Dios, Managua Nicaragua
10 children with Autism in Nicaragua are receiving individualized support through the Tesoros Autism Program. For almost one year, Elim teacher Taylor Elliott has provided ongoing mentoring and consultation to lead program staff at Tesoros. They use this time to brainstorm about Autism best practices and how to make this level of service available within the context of Tesoros. The students receiving this specialized support are learning better ways of communicating and gaining independence skills. Comment from Tesoros Staff regarding Taylor’s support, “She has great ideas for our Autism program that we have implemented. As she feeds into me, I can feed into our staff and offer them support as they work with our children.”
The same type of ongoing support Elim Outreach offered to Tesoros related to their Autism Program is assisting with the development of their new Transition Program. Kim Amos and Michelle Adams spent weeks (via Skype) brainstorming and documenting the best approach for developing a Transition Program at Tesoros. Key staff from both Tesoros and Elim Outreach participated in regular program development meetings so that transition to teach and implement key program elements. At the onset of this collaboration, 5 young adults at Tesoros took a trip to the local grocery store where they each got to practice skills in shopping and getting around in their community.
Chenga Ose Association, Harare Zimbabwe
Davis and Lucia Mambure have increased awareness of the value of people with disabilities in local and U.S. based churches. During Davis’s time in the U.S. this summer, he shared the COA school and vocational training vision with churches and individuals. Since this time, the Mambure’s have continued to communicate with those interested in getting involved and supporting the COA ministry expansion. Davis has been working with Elim Outreach on a guided approach for bringing together a group of Christian individuals led to pray for, advise, and raise support for this school and vocational training program in Zimbabwe. Year 1 funding will allow the Mambure’s to offer special education and individualized vocational training opportunities to five of the COA young adults in their Ruwa support group. One of these young adults is their son Tapona who just recently completed his public education at age 14. As of last month, Tapona will not attend school due their lack of high school options for him. The Mambure’s knew this day would come and have been praying and working for several years to pioneer a path of continued education and training for Tapona and others with disabilities in Zimbabwe. The group of individuals who come together to support this initiative will be instrumental in providing access to this education for Tapona and others, yet this is a significant effort and commitment. Much prayer and has gone into the process and goals for this group which we hope to begin working with by the end of this calendar year.
Kenya (2 partnerships):
En-Gedi Children’s Home, Athi River Kenya
Margaret Njuguna, founder of En-Gedi Children’s Home, is equipped to share her vision and raise support for a school for children with disabilities in Kenya. Kim and Margaret spent several months exploring Margaret’s vision for expanding her existing children’s home so she can rescue more children and offer a formal school and therapy program. This opportunity to receive an education will become available to 20 children with disabilities in Kenya. Much work remains in the space between creating a program proposal and launch, especially when funding is an issue. As Margaret and Kim were developing the En-Gedi school proposal, they also worked on her plans for travel and networking in the U.S. so she could be available to share her vision and goals with friends and churches. Margaret reports that she has received matching gift offers as well as other donations, which have funded components of her vision such as the remaining funds needed to secure the land she intends to purchase for the new home and school. Margaret continues to meet with Christian individuals who are interested in supporting this vision and has hope that God’s people from all over the world will provide the needed funds.
Margaret increased knowledge and understanding of how to educate children with disabilities. Carolyn Buma (Outreach staff) worked with several Elim program staff to create a specific training schedule for Margaret, which will provide her with new ideas for how to open and facilitate her own school. Margaret will use the information she gained during this time at Elim as a reference point for ongoing school development conversations once she returns to Kenya. Margaret will also share these ideas and training with staff at En-Gedi.
Comment from Margaret: “Regular communication with Kim via Skype and zoom (for training) brought us so near to each other, though geographically very far from each other. This made me feel like En-Gedi and Elim have known each other for years. It has been enriching to know that there are others with a similar call to serve people with special needs who are willing to help and to share training resources. Thank you Kim.
Elim’s sponsorship to the BEYOND SUFFERING conference in Uganda was the greatest thing that ever happened to me and En-Gedi since I started the ministry. Watching the videos with the En-Gedi staff and children was exciting and that “Beyond Suffering” manual has become one of the favorite books on our shelf. I plan to use this manual to hold community seminars when our new and expanded Home is complete.
Working with Kim helped me know about the Individual Education Plan (IEP) and though we had many notable improvements in all our children, we did not know that we could formally track these improvements and keep records. We are in the process of adopting IEP of each child.”
Wizara School, Kehancha Kenya
Pastor Thomas has shared his ministry with Elim through the efforts of Kenyan national Brian Kiruy who Elim hired to visit Wizara School. Brian worked as a classroom assistant with Maddie Manden at Green Hills Academy in Rwanda. Elim Outreach staff have been communicating with Pastor Thomas on and off for over three years. This “Go Learn” trip provided critical information regarding the community, staff and students of Wizara School. Brian observed incredible commitment and passion for Pastor Thomas’s leadership and Elim Outreach is looking very forward to a continued conversation with Pastor on how Elim may be able to walk alongside him in his efforts to strengthen and grow this ministry. Pastor Thomas has asked Elim to consider giving him the opportunity to come to Elim to receive further training for supporting people with disabilities.
From Brian’s Report, “Thomas had been a teacher for 7 years before he got promoted to become a deputy teacher at another school around Kehancha. During this time, he got the passion for special education as a result of encountering with many children with special needs who did not get to exercise their right to education.
He went on to specialize in special education and earned a diploma in the field. Thomas’ wife, Pamela, is a teacher at a local school but has now decided to pursue a special education degree. She has found the same passion her husband hers because she sees the need to provide education for these children in the community. After college, Thomas got posted to a local assessment center and while he was there, he realized that he and his colleagues were really not fulfilling their duties and responsibilities. He therefore decided to go out into the real world and meet these kids in person and to identify the need. A look at the assessment book they had made at his previous place of work revealed many kids with special needs. But the one thing that was lacking in the area was a school for these kids. They had nowhere to go and it appeared to Thomas that these kids were living under harsh conditions and that moved his heart. Thomas made up his mind and took it upon himself to save these children the best way he knew how- start up a school for the children with special needs in the heart of Kuria community.”
Chara Center, Jakarta Indonesia
Evelyn Dita hopes to launch a community therapy program in Indonesia by January 2016. This program will provide therapy services for people with disabilities as well as training for caregivers on how to implement therapeutic interventions at home or other environments. Setting up a program from scratch is a lot of work. Elim gets to be involved in this by sharing resources with Evelyn as she makes requests based on specific needs (i.e. document templates for school policies and procedures, curriculum examples, etc.). Elim Outreach has invited Evelyn to join the Elim Outreach Network by the end this calendar year. Evelyn will work with Elim Outreach on an annual guide for how to work together (MOU) which will result in additional time and resources to go toward the development of this community program.
Erin Powell – Uganda
Erin works with churches and local universities to encourage teach and equip them for reaching and including people with disabilities. Erin has lived in East Africa for four years and is currently serving in Rwanda. Elim connected Erin to Paul Blas who does church relations at Tesoros De Dios, and they are sharing resources with each other. Elim has started meeting regularly with Erin via Skype where we discuss additional resources for church and local university engagement.
Summary Note ~ Multiplication :
We believe that as Outreach seeks to understand, develop and practices skills with those in the Outreach Network we will all become more equipped to ‘go out’ and teach others. The Outreach team focuses its attention on its existing local and international relationships, and looks forward to the development of new partnerships. This core programming of Outreach will provide a strong foundation to the ultimate goal of multiplication, where those we equip then go out and equip others. Additionally, we are exploring online global sharing initiatives so that Outreach can provide the core Outreach Network and others with easily accessible online teaching tools. Sharing expertise and resources using internet-based file-sharing technology will allow these resources to be globally accessible and will further impact the ultimate Outreach goal of multiplication.