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.


Sandi said...

It's easy to see why you have such a desire to put these kids your own school!

Wallestads said...

I work with seventh graders like this every day... poverty presents its own set of priorities for my families, and reading/education are not high on the list, unfortunately. Survival is key... by the quickest/easiest path possible. The hard work required to learn good reading skills usually takes a back seat to the instant gratification of cheating or skating through. Never mind the whole English as a Second Language issue... no wonder I work in a "failing" school.... sigh.

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Unfortunately, that happens everywhere. I don't know if it is the innate learning style of the children, lack of parental involvement, or some sort of disability. I know that my very bright son was helped by sensory integration therapy (from a physical therapist) and later eye exercises (prescribed by a developmental optometrist) before the reading and writing made sense to him. But fortunately, because of the classes I had taken in teaching reading at the U, I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what to do about it. He got the help starting when he was 6 and then again in 3rd grade, so he didn't suffer from the humiliation of not being able to read. He was one of the better readers in high school and is now in grad school...learning to be a grade school teacher.

Jim & Michele Walser said...

May God continue to lead you to His children, each one special to Him. Seeking love, praise & hope (confident expectations). Blessing upon each of you!