Last Wednesday, we were able to visit a place called Faraja. We were interested in visiting for many reasons! One of the main reasons we wanted to visit Faraja is because Kaaya, the BCC director, also teaches there. Faraja is a deacon training center for the ELCT and Kaaya is a deacon in the ELCT church. We were interested in visiting the school where he was trained and educated as well as learning more about Faraja’s programs.
Faraja is a Swahili word that means comfort. The deacon training center also works with a boarding school for children with physical disabilities. The school serves 80 children aged 7 to 15. Basically, the deacon training center started in the 1980’s, and the school for children with disabilities was built soon after. The school was built as a project for the deacons in training, and as a way to serve the needs of the community.
The ELCT uses deacons in many of its projects. They are a type of social worker that the church prefers to lead their programs. Deacons receive information on children with disabilities and general medical training while participating in valuable field work. They also learn theology, general social work information, and church history. Once completing the program, deacons can work as social workers, counsel others through the ELCT church, or pursue further education.
During our tour of Faraja, the woman in charge of deacon training told us that the deacon work follows the “Seven Works of Mercy.” They believe that deacons are meant to work in different diaconal fields. The following link shows one of the famous paintings related to the “Seven Works of Mercy” http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimforest/2652605374/.
As mentioned, the ELCT church started the school for children with disabilities soon after the deacon training center. The intention was that it would provide an opportunity for the deacons to participate in valuable fieldwork while providing a service to the community. The school is very nice. They have quality living areas, skilled teachers, and impressive educational tools. It is our opinion that the school was as equipped to serve children as any other educational program we have visited. The children learned all general subjects and some of the older children could speak to us in English!
See below for a few photos of Faraja!