Empower Hope
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Open Schools World Wide

Vulnerable children require a different approach

Open Schools World Wide /Empower Hope Partnership


One of the most significant challenges in Africa is how to address the issue of out of school children. In the year 2000, while touring a school in South Africa, Dr. Phil Renicks, Vice President of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) noticed a number of street children milling about the entrance to a school and it’s supporting church. It was apparent that neither the church nor the school had the ability to address the issue of out of school children. A few months later, Dr Alan McIlhenny was helping Tearfund evaluate their work with church partners in a remote region of Burkina Faso. It quickly became apparent to Alan that the lack of education was causing much of their organization’s church partners work to be ineffective.

In 2003, these two men, backed by ACSI, joined with 11 Christian educators from seven countries. They identified and documented existing education interventions for vulnerable children that had used best practice guidelines and had been successful.  Strategic actions for curriculum development and training were implemented. Their combined efforts resulted in an accelerated literacy/numeracy program that has been specially designed to teach children up to a grade three level in just six months with a unique “school in a bag” delivery system.

OSWW obtains the teacher volunteers in Christian schools, churches and organizations with which it partners; trains them and sends them out to teach vulnerable children in shanty towns, community centers, under trees, at garbage dumps and in homes; wherever children are found. Over 30,000 children's lives have been changed through this educational opportunity and through the experience of God’s love for them. 

OSWW is currently serving in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, and Kenya and is working toward future expansion into other countries. Over 4,500 children are receiving an alternative education through OSWW and 500 volunteers have had the opportunity to bless these marginalized children with the beginnings of hope they would have otherwise never had.


Globally 263 million children, adolescents, and youth between the ages of 6 and 17, are currently out of school. 61 million are of primary school age. More than 34 million live in sub-Saharan Africa. Poor parents struggle against great odds to provide education for their children with most unable to do so. Without an intervention, these uneducated children will grow to become uneducated adults who will remain caught in the cycle of poverty.

The EH/OSWW partnership provides a platform of opportunity for those living in extreme poverty and who would otherwise have no ability to go to school, to obtain an education through this alternative program administered by compassionate and caring volunteers in order to see these children rise above their current circumstances. By utilizing the leadership of our Ambassadors, church leaders and teacher volunteers trained by OSWW, teachers are prepared to teach and safe environments are created where children can learn and grow.


Our long-term vision is to develop partnership with local churches and people and specially-trained Ambassador/Teachers to create community centers with daycare/preschools which are located in close proximity to each community where the curriculum is taught.  These safe havens will allow parents, who otherwise could not work due to lack of childcare, to now begin to support their family while knowing their child is well cared for and safe. These centers will also offer after-school care for those able to attend public school during the day. This sustainable model will allow for many more individuals and families to be impacted long-term.

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Education is the most powerful tool
 which you can use 
to change the world. 
— Nelson Mandela
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