Current Enrollment: 420
BEFORE IT BECAME A REFUGE FOR BOYS AND GIRLS LIKE ANDREW BANDA, THE BUILDING WHERE CHAISA LCA NOW STANDS WAS A BAR AND BROTHEL.
It was a place where every day hundreds of residents of this hard, poor neighborhood gathered to seek sad relief in the pleasures of sex and alcohol.
Today, the Chaisa LCA stands as a place with walls that display vocabulary words and math exercises and whose rooms house hundreds of books for the 393 students who bound through its gates, yearning for an education.
On one warm morning , youngsters in class learned how to add and subtract money. They also learned the names of God.
When visitors crowded into their classroom, they stood in unison, their postures crisp, and shouted: “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.’”
The students make it to school even though, at home, some of their caretakers still use alcohol to escape life’s struggles.
Andrew’s teachers knew something was wrong on those days when the normally gregarious boy came to school but didn’t say a word. Sometimes he would simply weep.
Finally, teachers coaxed the small boy with the round face and bright eyes to tell them what was wrong. Andrew is 11 and in the third grade now, and this is his story:
“My dad has died, and I live with my mom. She just stays at home, drinking too much. I have two brothers and one sister, and sometimes my mom beats my two brothers. I started coming to Chaisa LCA last year. I like it because I learned how to read, I learned how to write, I learned how to behave. I learned that if I do something wrong, I need to say ‘sorry’ to my friends or to the teacher.”
I don’t like being at home. At home, if there is no food, I don’t eat. Here, I eat and I am full. Before I started coming to Chaisa LCA, my brothers and I walked the streets, picking up empty bottles. Then we sold them to get money. When we got the money, we gave it to my mom. She would make us mealie meal, and then if there was any change left over, she would take the change and go to the bar and buy some alcohol. I’m so happy that Jesus made a way for me to start at Chaisa LCA. I have learned that if there is no way, Jesus can make a way for me. So I pray, ‘God, please help me, and please make my mom stop drinking alcohol.”
Chaisa LCA remains as a beacon of light in a very dark place.