On the morning of October 13, the 4th Annual Run For Mukhanyo will kick-off on the Union Seminary Fitness Loop, directly across from Veritas’ campus. Over one hundred 4 – 16 year old students will enlist friends and family to sponsor their hour-long run on behalf of Mukhanyo Christian Academy (MCA), a Christian elementary school in rural South Africa.
Last week, Sara Kennedy interviewed 10th grader Morgan Lewis, founder of the Run for Mukhanyo, about her vision for the Run, her dreams for MCA and what she hopes participants will gain from the experience. This is a summary of their conversation.
SK: Many schools throughout the developing world are funded by external NGOs and charities. What makes Mukhanyo Christian Academy special?
ML: When my grandparents first went to South Africa, the village near what is now MCA hosted a Theological seminary and a feeding center. After a mission trip, my grandmother, a life long educator, had a vision to begin a school as well. As a result, my grandparents, along with a small group from North Carolina, began the work to establish a Christian school to serve the most vulnerable children in the community. The school opened in 2010 with only the youngest grades – one grade is added each year. In 2014, school opened with 63 students in grades K – 5.
MCA is based on a Charlotte Mason model of instruction – considering the physical, emotional, spiritual and academic needs of the whole person – for their whole life, rather than a purely academic and testing environment. The staff of MCA is committed to raising up young men and women who will be the leaders of the next generation.
To that end, the Chairman of the Board for Friends of Mukhanyo, the non-profit which runs the school, along with a dedicated group of Afrikaaners, is piloting a program named the Melana Project. This project aims to create commerce centers in each village focused around a school. Through the commerce center, local jobs are created, local funds are retained in the community, and profits are secured to gradually increase the community’s own ability to fund excellent education options with diminishing reliance on outside funding.
The Run for Mukhanyo provides significant funding for MCA, which will be the first school at the center of a commerce centers. If the commerce center around MCA is successful, more schools like MCA will be built throughout rural South Africa, providing the poorest students a great education and the opportunity to hear the gospel.
SK: You’ve learned so much over the past four years about fund-raising, running an organization and the needs and opportunities at this particular school in South Africa. What have you learned about yourself?
ML: I’ve learned that when I get overly focused on myself, my schoolwork, my running – it is easy for me to get stressed out and self-centered. Focusing on others re-orients me and helps bring me peace. Through the Run for Mukhanyo, and the chance to travel to South Africa, I’ve seen God more clearly. Because God has made us to serve and live in relationship with others, we are living the way God has designed us.
Though it takes a significant amount of work to get ready for the Run each year, I value the process and am truly filled with joy the hour that students are running. Its hard to describe how blessed I feel and how thankful to be part of my grandparents’ vision.
SK: What do you most want students to take away from this experience?
ML: First of all, running for a solid hour is hard work. Asking others to support you to run is a challenge, and may not always be comfortable. The Run for Mukhanyo is fun, but it requires discipline, courage and perseverance. I want students to know the joy of working hard for something that is challenging, and because of this, of great value – something meaningful for others that they can accomplish.
I know its cliché, but still true – in giving to others, we are richly blessed ourselves.
To learn more about the Run for Mukhanyo, to donate or to register to run, go to the Run for Mukhanyo Website or email Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Morgan and Sarah Lewis with their visionary grandmother