Covenant Mercies 2016 Impact [Infographic]

By Covenant Mercies Team
Education Ethiopia Healthcare Orphan Sponsorship Sustainability Uganda Zambia
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As we look forward to the New Year, we are delighted to share the Covenant Mercies 2016 Impact Infographic. Thank you to our sponsors, donors, volunteers, and partners around the world who are making this work possible. We are grateful for your prayers, service, and generosity.

2016 Covenant Mercies Impact Facts:

  • Today, over 1,200 children are enrolled in the Orphan Sponsorship Program.
  • We welcomed 230 new sponsored children and celebrated 110 graduations. 
  • We planted a 5-acre eucalyptus grove (5,100 trees!) to generate sustainable local revenue for our Eastern Uganda program.
  • 25 mission team participants worked on projects such as Vacation Bible School, Youth Camp, and Construction.
  • We created the Mapalo Scholarship Fund for eligible Program graduates pursuing higher education. Mapalo means "blessing."
  • We launched a brand new medical clinic in Western Uganda, providing over 350 children and their guardians with in- and out-patient care, health education, HIV testing, malaria treatment, and more! 

Joyful: Covenant Mercies 2016 [Video]

By Covenant Mercies Team
Ethiopia Orphan Sponsorship Uganda Zambia
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We can’t stop smiling from our latest ministry video! Click below to watch Joyful: 2016, and help us spread the word about Covenant Mercies by sharing this video with your friends!

This holiday season, will you consider helping us reach our year-end goal by making a tax-deductible gift to Covenant Mercies? A gift of any amount will help us continue to expand our programs and provide our children with quality education and healthcare opportunities. Click here to donate.

Covenant Mercies 2015 Impact [Infographic]

By Covenant Mercies
Education Ethiopia Healthcare Orphan Sponsorship Uganda Zambia
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As 2015 comes to a close, we are delighted to share what the prayers and generosity of our partners around the world have accomplished this year. We are committed to transparency, accountability, and integrity as we steward the resources entrusted to us for our sponsored children, to the glory of God. This is the Covenant Mercies 2015 Impact Infographic. We hope these highlights of the year are a source of encouragement to you. 

2015 Covenant Mercies Impact Facts:

  • 1,100+ children sponsored through the Orphan Sponsorship Program
  • 139 new sponsored children
  • 40 program graduates
  • 130 attendees at our eastern Uganda youth camp, and 28 professed faith in Christ
  • 1,720 medical patients served through our one week medical clinic in western Uganda
  • 27 mission team participants, representing 9 churches and 7 states
  • 229 Covenant Mercies sponsored children attending Lighthouse Christian School in Zambia
  • For the second year in a row, 100% of Grade 7 Lighthouse students passed their national exams and qualified for secondary school 

An Interview with Wilbroad & Zicky Chanda: 10 Years of Lighthouse Christian School (Part 2)

By Joanne Burak
Education Zambia
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Zicky and Wilbroad Chanda, founders of Lighthouse Christian School in Ndola, Zambia, recently visited Covenant Mercies’ US offices. In honor of the school’s tenth anniversary, Director of Development Joanne Burak sat down to talk with the Chandas about Lighthouse and the surrounding community.

What does a typical day at Lighthouse look like for a student?

ZC: We start our classes at 7:30 in the morning. Monday and Friday mornings we have assembly. In assembly, each class presents something they have learned. We also have clubs— Drama Club, Cultural Club, Scripture Club, and Art Club— so the Drama Club may also present something, or the Cultural Club will present a dance.

…Monday afternoon we have Reading, Tuesday afternoon we offer Remedial studies, and Wednesday afternoon they have [other] classes. Thursdays and Fridays they [leave] at 12:30pm. Within the week, each grade has a day of physical education.

Congratulations on 100% of last year’s seventh grade class passing their national exams. Tell us a bit about the Zambian education system.

WC: We inherited the British system… So we have primary school from grades 1 to 7… grade 8 and 9 is junior secondary school, 10 to 12 is senior secondary school, then a university or college.

The government is big on English, Science, and Math. Grade 7 national exams are multiple choice but very demanding. You sit for seven subjects. There are two of them that are an aptitude test, like the SATs— critical/analytical thinking.

…This is where we talk about God’s faithfulness. It is impressive for [Lighthouse] to score 100%, given our kids… The kids in the nice residential, high-cost, low-density areas, they are at an advantage. Whether you are from the village or the bush, you must write that exam…

In grade 9, they [Zambian students] have another exam to proceed to grade 10. Many make it to eighth grade, but not so many make it to tenth grade… Then there is an exam in grade 12 which is even tougher, because now you are fighting to get into college or university.  It’s different from here [the USA] where you are in 12th grade this fall, and maybe the next fall you are in college. Even if you get good grades, it takes one to two years before you even go to university.

What is your favorite thing about leading Lighthouse Christian School?

ZC: My favorite part is seeing these children being transformed, not just academically— even spiritually. That is the greatest joy.

We were just talking about 100% [of the seventh grade class] passing [their national exams] last year… I remember when I got the results, I was going through each name and I found out that everyone had qualified to go to grade 8. That was a joy, just to see these kids entering high school.

The pre-schoolers that are coming, most of them don’t know how to speak English. By the end of the year, they are able to say their ABCs, they are able to sing rhymes, they are able to communicate— it is just a joy.

Can you share anything about future construction plans for the school?

ZC: In terms of construction, we are in the third phase for the school…that will become the computer labs, art labs, a library, and we hope for more classrooms.

How can we pray for you and Lighthouse?

ZC: My prayer request has always been for God’s wisdom… there are so many decisions I have to make on a daily basis... So really, my prayer is for God’s wisdom and guidance. I don’t know where Lighthouse will be ten years from now, but God knows— because He is the one who has seen it through up to this moment.

Zicky Chanda is the Director of Lighthouse Christian School and helps to coordinate Covenant Mercies’ Orphan Sponsorship Program in Ndola, Zambia. Wilbroad is the senior pastor of Christ Community Church in Ndola. Together, the Chandas founded Lighthouse Christian School in 2005. Covenant Mercies partnered with the school in 2006, later building a new and expanded campus. Today, Lighthouse serves 250 students in grades pre-K through 7. For more information, visit our Education Projects page.

Missed Part 1 of our interview with Wilbroad and Zicky Chanda? Check it out here

An Interview with Wilbroad & Zicky Chanda: 10 Years of Lighthouse Christian School (Part 1)

By Joanne Burak
Education Zambia
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Zicky and Wilbroad Chanda, founders of Lighthouse Christian School in Ndola, Zambia, recently visited Covenant Mercies’ US offices. In honor of the school’s tenth anniversary, Director of Development Joanne Burak sat down to talk with the Chandas about Lighthouse and the surrounding community.

What led to your desire to establish Lighthouse Christian School?

Zicky Chanda: We lived in Mississippi in 1999. We were there for almost four years. While we were in the US, we would read stories— stories about the street kids back home. We had a passion for caring for these children. We thought, when we get back to Zambia, we will start a school that will care for orphans and vulnerable children. So when we went back in 2003, we started working towards that. Lighthouse was established in January 2005.

I understand that Lighthouse Christian School serves students from both the middle class and slum neighborhoods of Ndola.

ZC: That is one thing we still want to emphasize, because we don’t want the school to be known as an orphanage, or a school for orphans. We want to give those children the same quality education that the others have. There are some kids [Lighthouse students] who are not orphans. Their parents are able to pay for the school fees.

Where these kids are coming from— the [Covenant Mercies] sponsored kids and non-sponsored kids— are totally different. Most of the sponsored kids, they are coming from the slums. And those that have parents and are able to pay for themselves— they are coming from a different neighborhood. It is a benefit for both.

For those children coming from those suburban areas, mixing with those coming from the slums gives them a picture of saying “we are one.” It doesn’t matter where you [live]. One thing I emphasize to the caregivers [child guardians]… it is easy to say “Oh, I am coming from the slums. I can’t match up with that child coming from so-and-so area.” But we encourage them. I usually tell them, “With God, it is all even.” God doesn’t look at us and say “You are coming from ‘this area,’” He just looks at us as the same.

Wilbroad Chanda: In addition, when you have kids coming from the slums… it’s like the caste system in India. When you think of education, the expectation [if you live in a slum neighborhood] is that you go to a school that is downtrodden, that is poor. But if you are coming from that community and attending Lighthouse... it boosts their esteem: Though I come from such a community, I can attend a good school.

Tell us about the Ndola community and the home life of the Lighthouse Christian School students.

WC: The [sponsored] children come from communities that are poverty stricken. At one point, we didn’t have those slums… because of certain socio-economic factors, they are mushrooming. The problem is, if you grow up in that community… the mindset is that this is where I was raised, I will raise my kids and grandchildren here. Lighthouse says no, we can break that cycle, because when these kids have an education, they will transition. Part of the reason why some of them live in that community is because they don’t have a good education, a good job, and good income… Education is the golden key that unlocks or breaks this cycle.

How has Lighthouse changed in the past ten years?

ZC: When we started Lighthouse Christian School, when the doors opened, there were only six students, with one teacher. Just me, and one teacher. Now we have over 250 children, in ten years. When we started, we were renting a house. We paid the rentals, the salary of the teacher, the utilities… it was just from our pockets, just from our incomes. It’s amazing to see where it is now.

When Covenant Mercies came in 2006 and the Sponsorship Program started, the numbers started growing, but we were still renting this house and we didn’t have enough space. The first building construction started in 2009. Today it’s transformed— not just the area where the school is built, it has transformed the lives of the children. We see God’s faithfulness in all of that. Lighthouse is also providing employment for the teachers and those working on the grounds.

WC: There is progress in almost every sphere of school: the number of teachers has increased, management… relationships are growing, the gospel is spreading. Of course, we are still progressing... as Zicky has put it, we are just seeing the hand of God.

Zicky Chanda is the Director of Lighthouse Christian School and helps to coordinate Covenant Mercies’ Orphan Sponsorship Program in Ndola, Zambia. Wilbroad is the senior pastor of Christ Community Church in Ndola. Together, the Chandas founded Lighthouse Christian School in 2005. Covenant Mercies partnered with the school in 2006, later building a new and expanded campus. Today, Lighthouse serves 250 students in grades pre-K through 7. For more information, visit our Education Projects page.

Check out Part 2 of our interview with Wilbroad and Zicky Chanda here.

Restoring Our Children to Everything God Created Them to Be

By Covenant Mercies
Ethiopia Orphan Sponsorship Uganda Zambia
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This August, Executive Director Doug Hayes traveled with a film crew to Uganda, Zambia, and Ethiopia. As they visited Covenant Mercies’ program areas, they recorded interviews with our sponsored children, in-country staff, and program graduates. Click below to view this brand new ministry video.

Special thanks to studio428films and Jay Walker Studio for making this project possible. We look forward to sharing more footage and stories of hope in the coming months! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for additional news and ministry updates.

April 2015 Update on Lighthouse Christian School

By The Covenant Mercies Team
Education Orphan Sponsorship Zambia
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Thanks to an outpouring of generosity at the end of 2014, the first quarter of this year included significant progress toward the completion of our new facility on the campus of Lighthouse Christian School.  The building is now completely roofed, and plumbing and electrical works have commenced in the interior.

We remain with about $30,000 left to raise toward the completion of this project, with a goal of gaining occupancy of the new building by August of this year.  As always, it’s important to remember that our aim here isn’t to build impressive structures; it’s to change young lives.  Recently on our Facebook page, we have posted several brief video testimonials and words of thanks from children in our program (including some who have attended Lighthouse).  If you haven’t yet “liked” Covenant Mercies on Facebook, please consider doing that so we can more easily keep you informed.   

If you would like to contribute toward the project at Lighthouse Christian School, please click here.  We are grateful for your support!

An Update on Lighthouse Christian School Project

By Doug Hayes
Education Zambia
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Great progress is being made on the new classroom building at Lighthouse Christian School in Zambia.  The walls have already been raised to roofing level, and weather permitting we will begin installing the trusses next week! 

Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far toward this $80,000 project, which will greatly enhance the education we are able to provide for our sponsored kids in Zambia!  We are continuing to raise funds as we enter into the roofing phase, one of the more costly phases of the project.  If you would like to make a contribution toward the completion of this wonderful new school building for the children of Lighthouse Christian School, please click here.

Lighthouse - A Beacon of Hope and Possibility

By Doug Hayes
Education Zambia
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I have always loved the name of Lighthouse Christian School in Ndola, Zambia. 

Even in a landlocked country like Zambia many miles from any ocean, a lighthouse is a metaphor for hope in the midst of distress; a beacon of possibility in the raging sea of impossibility.  No matter how severe the storm or how high the waves, a lighthouse is a welcome guide for a tossed and disoriented vessel hoping to get back on course.   

In many ways, this is a helpful picture of the role we aim to play in the lives of our sponsored children.  Each of them has been made in the image and likeness of God, with gifts and abilities that will flourish if given the opportunity.  But the hardships of life have thrown their development off course.  Parental loss in combination with extreme poverty is the perfect storm, making it nearly impossible for our children to right the ship on their own.  Our role is to shine that beacon of hope, reminding them of the potential of their lives and affording them the opportunity to become everything God created them to be.  We can’t calm the storms completely, but we can be a light in the midst of the fog; a means of restored hope and opportunity despite the severe trials they’ve faced in their young lives.  

This is what we aim to do in partnership with Lighthouse Christian School, and our primary means of doing it is quality Christian education.  We have written before about the importance of education in the lives of our children, and the unique opportunity we have to influence their spiritual and character development through the provision of quality Christian education.  This is the reason Covenant Mercies has partnered with Lighthouse for the past seven years, and the reason we are continuing to play a vital role in the development of the school’s infrastructure to this day.

In February 2012, we had the delight of opening a spacious 7-classroom building with Lighthouse.  Now, as the school bursts at the seams once more (with over 200 of our sponsored kids presently attending in grades K-7), we are embarking on the next project in the development of the Lighthouse campus.  This new facility will house the kindergarten and pre-K classes (leaving the existing classrooms for grades 1-7), plus a teacher’s lounge and offices, a nurse’s office, and a small kitchen for the preparation of nutritious lunches.  All in all, this building is projected to cost approximately $80,000 to complete.

I don’t know whether $80,000 sounds like a lot or a little to you.  But one thing I do know:  we are ultimately investing in something vastly more important than bricks, mortar, desks, and whiteboards.  Through our partnership with Lighthouse Christian School, we are investing in the opportunity to restore hundreds of beautiful children to becoming everything God has created them to be.  Though the raging seas have thrown them temporarily off course, God has brought us into their lives to be a means of restoration toward their ultimate purpose and destination.  As a result, I believe they will one day know him as the Father to the fatherless and praise him for his merciful intervention in their lives.  Can there be a more meaningful way to invest $80,000?

If you would like to contribute toward the next phase in the construction of Lighthouse Christian School, please click here and select "Lighthouse Christian School Project" from the drop down options.

Remembering David Sacks

By Doug Hayes
Ethiopia Portraits of Hope True Africa Uganda Zambia
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David Sacks’ connection with Covenant Mercies began in January 2003, when he providentially visited my home church (and CM’s founding church, Covenant Fellowship) on the Sunday I was introducing our Orphan Sponsorship Program for the very first time.  David and I had been friends since we were schoolboys, but he was living in New York at the time and I was surprised to see him that Sunday morning.  He approached me after the service, signed up to sponsor a child, and told me he wanted to travel to Uganda with me (at his own expense) to give us the quality photos we needed to promote our cause.  David was already a world class photographer by then, and I’m no dummy.  Within three months we were on a plane bound for Uganda together. 


As we’d talk in the evenings on that April 2003 trip, I can vividly recall David’s excitement about the images he was capturing.  Though we couldn’t see them yet (this was still a year prior to his conversion to digital equipment), David believed he was capturing something unique.  Perhaps exhibit-worthy.  Perhaps of value beyond the brochure and web applications we’d originally had in mind.  As we talked and imagined what might lie ahead, the seed was planted for an event that would ultimately become a treasured fundraising tradition in Covenant Mercies, Portraits of Hope


In all, David’s five trips to Africa would lead to six Portraits of Hope exhibits and more than $300,000 raised toward our mission, ultimately culminating in the 2012 publication of True Africa, a photo book comprised exclusively of our Portraits of Hope images.  We were hoping to return to Africa together later this year, but it was not to be.  On Friday evening, April 12th, David went home to be with the Lord after a 1 ½ year battle with cancer.  He was two months shy of his 45th birthday. 


David is survived by his beloved wife Angie and their four young children, and I’d like to ask everyone who loves Covenant Mercies to pray for this dear family.  They are surrounded by an abundance of love and support, but no amount of support can take away the sorrow they feel right now.  Less than an hour before David took his last breath on this earth, I had the unspeakable privilege of telling him that in addition to his own children, his legacy includes the thousands of children whose lives he has touched through his generosity toward Covenant Mercies.  Whatever the Lord does through the lives of those children will accrue toward his reward.  Though he has left us too soon, how sweet it is to know that he’s receiving that reward now.


For several years David and I had a running joke about his desire to be given an African name.  I told him I couldn’t allow it because I’d worked hard for mine, performing numerous feats of African-ness like eating bugs, taking an authentic African bath, etc.  Though David was never averse to performing such feats himself, I insisted that it would take him more than a couple of trips to earn his name.  On our fifth trip in 2009, I finally relented and informed him that he had earned his name.  After polling our friends in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Zambia for their suggestions, I finally settled on the name that fit him best.  We decided to call him Mapalo, which means “blessing.” 

David Sacks was indeed a blessing.  And though he is no longer with us, the blessing of his life lives on and will never be forgotten.

Building a Brighter Future

By Doug Hayes
Zambia
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For most of us in the prosperous West, education is something we take for granted. It’s a blessing that is largely unappreciated and sometimes even despised. Such attitudes are out of place in sub-Saharan Africa, where the opportunity to study cannot be assumed and a sound educational foundation is often the difference between a harsh struggle for subsistence and a more prosperous quality of life.

This point was driven home for me last year during one of my visits to Zambia. As I normally do when I’m there, I spent Saturday with our Program Coordinator in Ndola walking through the neighborhoods of our sponsored children and visiting them in their homes. It is common on these excursions to receive warm and grateful welcomes wherever we go, but on this day the expressions of gratitude were especially pronounced:

“Thank you for giving my daughter a chance to get an education.”

“I never thought my grandson would be able to go to school.”

The striking aspect of these expressions is the fact that these guardians weren’t referring to a college degree or even a high school diploma. The blessing they had never foreseen for their children was the opportunity to attend elementary school. I was deeply affected by their gratitude, and renewed in my commitment to provide this indispensable gift to all the children Covenant Mercies serves.

Experiences like these only make our partnership with Lighthouse Christian School in Ndola, Zambia more meaningful. Since 2006, Covenant Mercies has sent an increasing number of students to Lighthouse each year to receive their education. As the school has grown through the years, the need for a more suitable facility has become progressively more urgent. So in 2009, we broke ground on construction of a building sufficient for the school’s needs. After nearly three years of raising the necessary funds and completing the project phase by phase, what a joy it was to participate in the ceremony for the Official Opening of Lighthouse’s new campus on February 10, 2012.

Though the ceremony was graced by the presence of Ndola’s Mayor and the Deputy Minister of Early Childhood Education, the true VIPs of the day wore school uniforms instead of business suits. Ultimately, this project is meant to provide quality Christian education for children who otherwise may have had no academic training at all. At present, we are sending 160 of our sponsored children in Ndola to Lighthouse Christian School in grades K-5. Lord willing, as more sponsors come on board and the school continues adding one new grade each year, we will be able to provide education for many more children through Lighthouse.

Future construction plans include administrative offices, a computer lab, and additional classrooms for grades 8-9. Yet our supreme goal has never been to erect impressive buildings with bricks and mortar. Our aim is to shape young lives with the building blocks of education, faith, and love. Through these key ingredients we believe we can impart hope to our children for a brighter future, and we are delighted to collaborate with Lighthouse Christian School in doing so.