The Perpetual Education Fund was taken to young adults of the Church's Lusaka Zambia District for the first time with a recent visit by Elder James C. Von Stetten and Sister Aleta Maureen Von Stetten, area missionaries for the PEF in the Africa Southeast Area.
The Perpetual Education Fund, was introduced at the April 2001 general conference by then-President Gordon B. Hinckley, who announced a "bold initiative" to help youth in developing areas "step out of the cycle of poverty."
The PEF program helps ambitious, worthy young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints receive training and education that lead to employment. It is modeled after the Perpetual Emigration Fund developed for the Church's early pioneers. As loans are repaid, the funds are re-circulated to provide opportunities for others.
The fund provides student loans to young people in selected developing nations and helps young people better provide for their families and grow in leadership and responsibility in the Church. Eventually, it will strengthen individuals, families, and communities.
Training meetings in Zambia were held Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Lusaka meetinghouse, and involved the Mormon Church's district presidency, all seven branch presidencies in the district, the newly formed district PEF committee and the country director for CES. It was followed by a separate PEF orientation meeting for approximately 30 PEF applicants.
District President Harrison M Lumbama attended all sessions of the training and described it as a day that this generation and many after will always remember. "We have been patiently waiting for all of the various categories of approval to be granted," he said. "After 18 months, the legal, financial … and area PEF executive committee have all given the go ahead, and we could not be happier for our ambitious and deserving young people. The first 10 applicants, all of whom are returned missionaries, have been selected and they will begin the application process right away."
Elder and Sister Von Stetten, who traveled to Zambia from the area office in Johannesburg, South Africa, were joined on this historic day by President Rand D. Patterson of the Zimbabwe Harare Mission presidency and his wife, Sister Lynette Patterson, and Elder Larry Esplin and Sister Nancy Esplin, who are serving in Zambia as CES missionaries of the mission.
Zambia becomes the 43rd country worldwide and the ninth country in the Africa Southeast Area to offer the Perpetual Education Fund. There are approximately 38,000 students in developing countries now using the PEF.