Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Minds Kindled by Oppurtunity

Hey everybody,

So I realized today that I hadn’t really written about the kids here. So let me tell you…

They are fucking awe inspiring.

Now when I use the word “awe” I mean it in the grandest sense of the term. These kids can literally bring me to tears on a daily basis. Not just because they need so much but because they ask for so little and try so hard.

They are so filled with determination and bravery but they never realize it because they have never thought about being any other way.

I mean think about it, what does it mean that I have been approached by four girls who want to come study in the US? They aren’t trying to go to the US so they can access cell phones or go to concerts or have any of things we, or at least I, desired so much at their age. They are going because they are desperate for education. I don’t know about you guys but I think that’s beautiful.

And they are so freaking smart. Here is an example-

Last Saturday a 13 year old named Lorraine, who had never seen a computer or an ipod before I came, was sitting in my office with me just chatting. I was reading some e-mail so I looked away from her for what could not be any longer then five minutes. When I looked up to say something to her I discovered that not only had she opened my kindle and figured out how to work it but she was deeply engrossed in the book “I, Lucifer”.

Now think about this. A girl who was exposed to this kind of technology a mere 3 weeks ago was able to figure out a piece of technology that confused most people at Stevenson. That’s amazing. Not to mention that about two hours later she was 20% through the book and had figured out how to use the dictionary on it with zero help from me.

And she isn’t the only one. Two other kids are engrossed in books on the kindle and showing everyone how to use it.

And that kind of sweetness and want to help others is seen everywhere, here is another example.

Davin and Junior took their placement exams into the school today, which has been a mix of joy and sorrow for me here, to see what grades they should be placed in.

Davin should be in the 5th grade and Junior in 1st according to their ages and these were the grades they were in when they left public school.

Neither of them could finish their tests.

Now this is clearly because of the public education out here but it was still soul crushing to look at Davin’s highest score of 30% on her Swahili test.

Junior couldn’t even read the Swahili test.

By the way they are both perfectly fluent in Swahili and speak it at home, rather then their mother tongue.

That is how bad public school here is. The kids in it don’t even have a chance. Thus the mix of sorrow and joy. Sorrow at the state of education in the country and how close these kids were to living in abject poverty for the rest of their lives but overpowering joy at the idea that they now had a real chance.

And where is the sweetness you ask?

Davin tried to take Junior’s Swahili test for him. Try to tell me that an older sister struggling with her own tests taking her brother’s test for him because of his pain and embarrassment isn’t beyond sweet- it’s the picture of raw love.

But back to the kids reading these books- you can’t imagine how amazing it is to watch them read.

The students here have never been exposed to literature besides what is in their texts book or anything with religious overtones, so for them the books I have are mind blowing. They never realized that there was a world out there.

I don’t know if you’ve ever watched someone expand their mind to understand a world outside of something as small as a catholic mission but it makes shitting over a hole kind of worth it.

Or totally worth it.

I can’t wait to see you all again. Don’t ever think for a minute I don’t achingly miss you all the time.


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