The Zozu Story


The story of what would become Zozu Project began in 2013, when the Lebens family signed up for a short-term medical mission trip to the war-torn Ewuata village in Uganda. Little did they know how that short-term trip would change their lives. 

 

During the trip, the devastation and poverty that they saw was deeply moving. They encountered hundreds of beautiful children, full of God-given potential, yet having no access to any meaningful opportunity, employment, education, or even the most basic life necessities of food and clean water.

They held the hands of mothers whose kids were dying due to easily preventable illnesses. They carried children whose bellies were swollen with malnutrition. And although the administering of medication and nutrition gave temporary relief, the Lebens family struggled with the acute awareness that their week of service would do so little to interrupt the cycle of extreme poverty in this village. Sickness and hopelessness would continue long after their departure. They returned home with an unexplainable connection to the people of Arua, and a burning desire to impact this remote village in Uganda to which, together, they had become so attached.

 

They remained connected through visits and the Internet, and saw that there was hope rising in the community.

In 2013 a new church, Arua Community Church, had recently been planted. Local leaders were being mobilized. A well to provide clean water for the entire village had just been drilled thanks to fundraising by a friend. In addition, one of Zozu's early partner organizations had plans for a permanent part-time medical clinic to serve the medical needs of the community. With water, medical care, and a church in place, in order to truly break the cycle of extreme poverty what this village needed next was a school. This is where the Lebens family felt the call to step up to the plate. Mick and Elaine Lebens, along with their children, started a campaign in their community to raise the money for a primary school, and by March of 2014, members and friends of Templeton Presbyterian Church had donated all the funds needed.  In August of 2014, Solid Rock School construction was completed on the church grounds. But just because a building was in place didn't mean that families could afford to send their children there. The Lebens' children–Jessa, Ryan, and Nathan–were so impacted by the children of Uganda and their lack of opportunity, that they contacted their aunt Julie Lebens (an accountant) and their uncle Tom Lebens (an attorney) to help start a non-profit to support Christian education for impoverished children.

Through generous donations from the United States and countless volunteers in Arua, Solid Rock Christian School opened in February of 2015 with 200 students!

 

        

 

On the same site during the first visit in 2013, there existed only a slab of concrete, a storage structure and hundreds of desperate faces.There are now two school buildings, a kitchen, 17 full-time teaching staff, 270 students who attend school daily, and the scaffolding for a preschool expansion! On that same site where there was so much suffering, there is now a daily assembly of children and adults living, thriving, growing, learning, and having fun along the way! If there's anything we have seen along the way, it's that God is so good at taking people that are simply willing to say "yes." He does not just call the qualified, but qualify those he calls to His work. We have big plans for the upcoming years, and are excited to see where He takes us! 

 

 

 

 

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