“I am so grateful to those who helped us to have this programme,” said 16-year-old Anne. She was among 300 Christian children and young people displaced by the jihadi insurgency raging in Burkina Faso who benefitted from attending an emergency Christian school part-funded by Barnabas.

Lessons led by Christian teachers every weekday based on a compressed curriculum enabled children to catch up on their learning in a safe setting.

The malnourished youngsters also received a nutritious lunch each school day, and spiritual sustenance at Bible classes. Outdoor games sessions were opened up for an additional 400 displaced Christian children to enjoy.

Burkina Faso
Young people undertaking lessons at the Barnabas-funded emergency Christian school

Education has been severely disrupted by the Islamist militants’ campaign of violence – much of it targeted against Christians – which has resulted in the closure of more than 6,000 schools across Burkina Faso, and forced more than two million to flee their homes.

Some displaced Christian children – including Anne – have been refused entry to state-run schools because of their faith. Even non-Christian children have been denied a place because they had previously attended a Christian school.

The Barnabas-funded emergency school is allowing children to catch up on missed learning opportunities, with the aim of them returning to mainstream education when possible.

Anne has now taken and passed her high school diploma exams – which she had to postpone last year because she had no school to go to – as an independent candidate. She should now be able to continue her formal education.

“We thank you so much”

Another pupil, nine-year-old Abel, thanked Barnabas supporters for their donations that funded the school. “I don’t know [our supporters],” he said, “but they must be Christians; you have to be a Christian to love like Jesus.”

He added, “My teacher told me that they are working on behalf of Jesus to help us. We thank you so much. Thank you, Jesus.”

Burkina Faso was once a bastion of religious tolerance where its population, made up of around 60% Muslims, 30% Christians and 10% followers of African Traditional Religion, lived in peace together.

The jihadi insurgency began in 2015 when Muslim extremists in neighbouring Mali and Niger began moving into the north of Burkina Faso. It is estimated that around 10,000 people have been killed in the violence, and 40% of the country is now controlled by those jihadi groups.

Pray for Anne, Abel, and their schoolmates, asking for the Lord’s protection over them. Pray for peace so that all Burkinabé children can resume fulltime education.

This article originally appeared on Barnabas Aid/News