School on African Time

Written by Megan White, photos by Megan and Sean White


Bailey grades schoolwork in the off-hours or while the children do their assignments.

School drags on as the fan slowly runs out of power. The heat is making the children’s focus wane, but Bailey teaches on. When the fan finally dies, then they can stop lessons for the day.

Bailey, a short-term missionary with Africa Inland Mission, served as a homeschool teacher for Heather and Adam Cheney. The Cheney’s are a missionary family with six kids working in a Kenyan village among the Digo people. Bailey spent two school terms teaching five of their kids.

It is very difficult for a family to take care of all the things needed for daily life, to welcome all the village visitors, and also give their children a quality education. “Just doing normal life things takes up a lot of time,” Bailey says. “You have to do things like make bread, make at least two meals each day, get water, and take care of your two-year-old. In the States, that might be more manageable, because you can just get water out of a tap. But in the village, it is exhausting.”

Since Bailey’s official assignment was homeschool teacher rather than something like church planter, she could focus completely on the children.

Homeschool teachers like Bailey are vital for many missionary families’ success on the mission field. Because of Africa Inland Mission’s emphasis on reaching unreached people groups, many missionaries serve in remote places, with little to no local education options for their children.

“If something is going to fall behind, it’s probably going to be school,” Bailey says, “because we still all have to eat, we have to drink, we need to have electricity, get bills paid, and we still need to do ministry. The benefit to having me there is that it’s my job, and I’m going to focus on that.”

Many missionaries are searching for someone like Bailey to come and help their family with homeschooling their children. But it is not only a great way to help missionary families. In addition to teaching, teachers can also enjoy the first-hand experience of learning about missions and African culture. 

Bailey is currently back home in the United States finishing her degree. She hopes to come back to the mission field as a missionary in some kind of support role again.

In reflection on her eleven months serving as a homeschool teacher, Bailey says, “It’s been some of the most fulfilling and rewarding work I’ve done.”

“If you’re looking to explore what missions is like in an African context, it’s really easy [to do that] as a homeschool teacher, because you instantly have a family and a lot of the things that make it hard for someone coming on their own.”


Homeschool Teacher

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