Sunday, May 15, 2016

Peter and the Perpetual Education Fund

No pictures this post.  Just wanted to talk about the Church's Perpetual Education Fund (PEF).  The PEF was set up by the Church in 2001 to help returning missionaries in developing countries to get an education.  People donate to the fund, then returning missionaries apply for and receive money for an education at a vocational, technical, or professional school.  Then, as they are able, and according to a schedule that doesn't cripple them, they pay the money back into the fund. 

Our friend, Peter, whom you met in the last post, didn't even think of getting further education until he joined the church.  Then, after returning from a mission to Zimbabwe, he applied for and received money from the PEF to attend university.  Peter says that with his education, he is able to make 10 times the money he would have made if he hadn't gone to university.  He's so grateful for the church's emphasis on education and for the Perpetual Education Fund.

If Peter hadn't gone on to advanced schooling, he could have been selling things in the streets -- things like newspapers, toys, bananas, windshield wipers, coat racks, floor mats, etc., which are some of the things we've seen as we've been stopped in traffic.  (Sellers walk up and down between the cars holding out their wares for sale.)  Or Peter would have been washing cars for $1-$5 per car.  Or doing security duty for $3/day.  Kenyans love to have clean cars.  Someone is always out washing cars by hand with a bucket and a cloth.  We told them that on the farm, we only wash our vehicles when we can no longer read the license plate!

Elder John K. Carmack of the Seventy was first in charge of the PEF in 2001.  He said that the majority of PEF recipients repay their loans.  He also said that,  “We are not in the business of giving money away. That is very easy to do, but that weakens people. President Hinckley [president of the church when the PEF was set up] would always say that when people repay their loans, they will have a sense of freedom."

“PEF is not about the money,” Rex Allen [one of the program's directors] said. “It’s about integrity and self-reliance. . . .  It’s the result of the training that we’re after. It’s really all about helping people get jobs so that they can come out of poverty and serve. It’s a leadership program where loans are made to help people become more effective leaders in their homes, communities, and in the Church.”

I'm grateful for the foresight of President Hinckley in setting up the PEF.  It was not only foresight, but inspiration and revelation from God. 

2 comments:

  1. It's great to see the PEF in action! I think that's a major problem with the welfare programs here in the US. There are programs for everything--to provide people with cell phones for free or at a discount (smartphones, tablets, etc!), free lunch programs, free everything. And nothing is expected in return. It's like Elder Renlund's talk about the farther the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more the sense of entitlement. The PEF is definitely a more effective model.

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