A letter from Chris Collins: Please pray for Guinea-Bissau

 

Guinea-Bissau recently finished registering its eligible voters for the upcoming elections on April 13. This is the first time the country has held elections since the military coup two years ago.
Dear friends,
 
TWO YEARS AGO WHILE I WAS IN GUINEA-BISSAU, soldiers barged into the home of the country’s prime minister, who was running for president at the time, and took him hostage. They temporarily shut down local radio stations and later propped up a new government – all so that they could make sure that no one interfered with their lucrative role in helping traffic Columbian cocaine to Europe.

Guinea-Bissau, one of the smallest and poorest countries in the world, is home to the WAVS School. It’s also famous for its many military coups over the years.

Of all the coups, however, the April 2012 coup has been one of the worst. Not since the 1998 coup that led to the country’s civil war has the country suffered so much. The political instability has devastated the already-weak economy. Meanwhile, international donors like the United Nations, who cover half of the government budget, withdrew all their support – which means that the salaries of teachers and hospital workers have gone unpaid.

This is all happening in a country where more than two out of three people live on less than $2 a day.

That is why I am asking you to pray for Guinea-Bissau.

On April 13, there is a real chance for change. Guinea-Bissau will hold its first elections since the coup and the leading candidates are bringing a fresh, new perspective. They are a change from the same old politicians who have dominated the country for the last two decades.

But a return to democracy will only happen if the elections go smoothly and the military doesn’t interfere again. Your prayers these next few weeks will be critical. At stake is nothing less than the future of 1.7 million people who call Guinea-Bissau home.

IF the elections go smoothly,

IF the military doesn’t interfere,

IF the right candidates are elected,

IF the new government puts an end to corruption and focuses on rebuilding its country,

IF international donors decide to start supporting the country again,

IF the Church in Guinea-Bissau and around the world prays for a better future,

THEN there is hope – and unlimited potential for this country.

With political stability, the economy will recover. Our students and graduates will have an easier time finding jobs. Families can plan for the future rather than scrape by each day.

The WAVS School has already proven that job-skills training is one of the best ways to invest in the long-term development of Guinea-Bissau. The only thing our students need is the chance to put their skills to use.

Even in the midst of these challenges, I’m inspired by the resilience of our graduates.

 
Papa Mendes, a 28-year-old graduate of the WAVS welding and metal works course, has started an internship using the skills he learned at the WAVS School.

Take Papa Mendes, for example. I met up with him a couple weeks ago at a Portuguese-owned workshop in the rural town of Canchungo, where our school is located. Papa, 28, graduated last year from the WAVS School welding and metal works course. Prior to this training, he had no job skills and no experience in welding. Now, thanks to his new skills set, he is interning at the workshop and hopes he’ll soon be able to work there full time.

“Now I’m not afraid of anything,” Papa told me. “I can apply what I’ve learned and do a lot of the work with my own hands. I have a skill and I need to use it to be self-sufficient.”

I’m confident that young people like Papa Mendes can help transform their country – in small ways and big ways. They just need to be given the chance.

That is why I am asking you to pray for Guinea-Bissau.

Sincerely,


Chris Collins

P.S. If you would like to make it possible for more young men and women like Papa Mendes to learn important job skills, please consider sponsoring a teacher at the WAVS School. Learn more about the WAVS teacher sponsorship program here.