Director of “Educate the Girls” Program Denied Visa

Post a Comment » Written on June 1st, 2007     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (June 1, 2007) – Evangelical Covenant Church leaders are working to reverse a U.S. State Department decision to deny a visa to Lily Yakote, director of the Educate the Girls program in Congo.

Yakote is scheduled to speak in August at the Women Ministries Triennial XII in Chicago. She also is slated to travel through the Pacific Southwest and East Coast Conferences.

“She was denied as soon as they learned how little her ‘salary’ was and that she had no huge bank account,” says Ruth Hill, executive minister of Women Ministries.

Hill says the U.S. Embassy in Congo should not consider Yakote a risk to remain in the country illegally. “Every leader of the Congo Covenant Church (CEUM) has returned following their visits, and she would be leaving behind a very small child.”

Keith Gustafson, Congo coordinator for Covenant World Mission, is working with the embassy to secure a visa. Yakote has another hearing scheduled for June 13.

Educate the Girls is a project of Women Ministries launched in 2006 with the CEUM. It addresses educational disparities between boys and girls in Congo. The Congolese culture limits women’s role in society, and girls often are the last in line to be educated.

So far, the project has enabled 500 young women to graduate from high school. The program has also funded village seminars on the value of girls, and identified more than 200 candidates for a future educational center for adult women.

Thousands of men and women have attended seminars on Women and African tradition, sexual violence and women, AIDS/HIV, polygamy and its consequences, and the work of women in the world and in the Bible.

The embassy’s decision to deny a visa will hurt the project. Yakote’s planned visits to the Pacific Southwest and East Coast Conferences would help raise support for the program. Now those plans are in jeopardy.

“There is no doubt that the passion and commitment Lily has for Educate the Girls initiative would generate tremendous support from Covenanters. The financial loss to the project and ultimately to the work for young girls in the Congo is enormous if she is denied yet again.”

Hill hopes Covenanters will pray that the non-immigrant visa department of the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa will grant her the visa. Also scheduled for another hearing on the same day is CEUM pastor Wagbala Nalenge, who was also denied a visa, says Hill. He is scheduled to visit churches that support a print shop in Congo.

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