Monday, October 4, 2010

I'm Still Here

Life is just very full right now.

Every day I'm involved in the nitty-gritty work of coming alongside others. Surely there is a need to pull away at times and reflect and evaluate and get some computer work done, but the more I get involved, the harder it is to pull away. I'm sorry for my absence here and will try to improve.

Here's something I've been mulling over in recent weeks:

In the last few weeks I have come across students who have finished 6th grade, 9th grade and 12th grade, and they all have two things in common: they cannot read and they cannot do the most basic math. Mind you, I did not say they were 12, 15 and 18 and had never been to school; rather, they have been going to school ever since they were 5 or 6 years old. Their parents have sacrificed to scrape together their school fees. They probably have average IQs, but they have simply fallen through the cracks when it comes to their education. In fact, I don't think 'cracks' is the right word, I think it's more like 'gorge' or 'Grand Canyon' simply because there are so many of them. I have not even gone searching for the lowest of the low; these are simply children who have crossed my path. How many more, like them, are out there?

When I heard the 18-year-old try to read to me, I felt like sobbing. What subject can you do without knowing how to read? What kind of survival skills has she learned in order to somehow pass to the next level year after year?  Is her whole life made up of dodging and copying and cheating, and who knows what else? That's her own normal. But now that we have identified the problem, we are going back and teaching her how to read just like a 1st grader. I weep for the wasted years.

If I look at the number of children in a similar situation, I won't be able to cope. For now we will have to be satisfied with reaching the children within our grasp.

The children I have mentioned here are in our Orphans and Vulnerable Children program. Their parents either have HIV or have died of HIV/AIDS complications.