Substance abuse leads to poverty. Poverty leads to substance abuse. It’s a vicious cycle we’re breaking one child at a time.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently ranked Uganda as the leading consumer of alcohol in the world –19.5 liters per person. This is bad news for one of the world’s poorest countries, with one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS.

Uganda is not alone. In developing nations, alcohol and drug abuse is rising and passed on from one generation to the next. Its tentacles reach deep into families and cultures and choke the life out of them. It drives men toward domestic violence, infidelity, and away from homes. It leaves women and children penniless and open to exploitation through prostitution, slavery and trafficking.

Alcoholism and drug addiction directly lead to a myriad of preventable diseases – 60 illnesses according to WHO – by reducing inhibitions, suppressing the immune system, and corrupting healthy cell function. HIV/AIDS is one of the most insidious and destructive killers, decimating families and leaving vast numbers of children to fend for themselves.

Educating children on the dangers of alcohol and drugs and providing them with a strong spiritual compass won’t automatically deliver them from deeply rooted poverty, but it will give them a fighting chance by eliminating one major preventable risk factor.

David C Cook is uniting with the local church in some of the most economically disadvantaged countries to pour life and hope into orphans and at-risk youth. We’ve developed a comprehensive holistic program, Life on Life, that provides a foundation for enduring faith in Christ, as well as character development and life skills.

In age-appropriate lessons we tackle thorny issues such as HIV/AIDS, poverty, abandonment, rape, trafficking and sexual abuse. A unit on alcohol and drug abuse is part of the curriculum, too.

The program’s lessons are not dour or meant to instill fear in a “Scared Straight,” sort of manner. They utilize games, discussion, and Bible stories.

Our goal is to show children there are life-giving and life-sustaining ways to deal with challenges and tragedies – and the range of emotions that accompany them. We desire for these boys and girls to know that Jesus sees every tear and walks through every obstacle with them. God is a patient, loving, compassionate Father who never leaves or forsakes His children.

The program is set to reach nearly 7 million Ugandan children through joint efforts between David C Cook and the Church of Uganda (COU). This alliance impacts at-risk girls and boys ages 8-14 through COU’s 25,000 congregations and 5,000 schools.

We’re also sharing this three-year curriculum with the local church in Mexico, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Ukraine. Please know your financial gifts make the scope of this outreach possible.

 

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