For those of you wanting a little more background info on the Orphanage where our Elisee has been the past 4 years, here’s a quick synopsis!
Exodus House Orphanage and Amazing Grace School were both started by one amazing woman with a heart for God and her own people. Patrice (who has been re-named to protect her identity) put herself through nursing school after her family ex-communicated her for loving Jesus. When she needed to flee her family’s influence, she traveled two countries away to attend seminary. It was there that she was overcome by the plight of the children she saw everyday in her village and throughout West Africa. She returned to Benin and one by one she took in children, nursed them to health, and advocated for their education in the local schools. She loved each one like her very own. Even today with 120 children under her care, Patrice knows each one’s story, their heart, and their needs.
Exodus House Orphanage was soon founded to give legal rights to Patrice as caregiver and protection to the children in Patrice’s care. Social workers, teachers and local women are now part of “the family” who see to the needs of the children ranging in age from zero to twenty-something. Each child has responsibilities within the orphanage to cook or clean, make or sell jewelry and food in the market, take care of the buildings and garden, or watch the smaller children as well as maintaining their own schoolwork and living space. The focus of Patrice’s care is to raise up these children who are seen as “the least” to become the future leaders of Benin. She takes special care to train up pastors , influencers, worshipers and teachers. The expectations are high for these kids and they fully live up to those expectations!
Soon after the orphanage was founded, Amazing Grace School was born. The school contains a Primary School and Secondary School as well as preparation for National Exams so the students can apply to attend University. (Just this year, 19 students went on to take this exam and passed! An incredible feat for kids who are said to “have nothing!”) Children from the village are welcome to attend Amazing Grace School alongside the Exodus House Children. Their school fees help to cover the cost of teachers and supplies for everyone. All students are taught from the Bible as well as 3 languages and the standard requirements of reading, writing and arithmetic.
Another part of the education offered at Amazing Grace is a certification program for women. It is the only program in the country recognized by the government. Women of any age and background can come to live and attend classes in fabric weaving, hair styling, and tailoring. It is a three year commitment and at the end of the program each graduate is given a certificate to start their own business as well as all the necessary tools to work in their trade. This program offers value and a voice to women who might otherwise be seen as a pawn for their family’s advantage. Once a woman in Benin gains an income, she has a say in any family matter and in her own life.
Powerful changes are taking place in each life touched by Exodus House Orphanage and Amazing Grace School. One woman (Patrice) has made an incredible impact on the country she loves and the people within it! Your support is a huge part of her ministry. Both prayer and financial support are what bring the Kingdom to Benin. (And of course, if you wish to support financially, you can give through me on either PayPal or GoFundMe or by purchasing the children’s handmade jewelry at Feed The World Cafe in Kalamazoo MI.)
Thank you for joining with Patrice, the Schuiteboer family and so many others to raise up leaders in Benin!