by Emily Roller
My father always joked that when he was a kid he had to walk to school barefoot, in the snow, uphill both ways. It’s a popular joke among parents of my generation, but not a joke I will ever be able to make as a privileged millennial. Every year, the world becomes a little more convenient for the privileged. We get water out of the tap—drinkable! We have school buses to pick up our children. We use our phones to connect with our friends that live far away; Skype lets us see them while we chat; planes carry us around the world in a day! Technology improves countless aspects of our lives. For a large part of the world, however, most of this technology is too expensive to even imagine.
In many countries today, you’ll still see students walking to school, barefoot. This is true of Malawi. Most of our students come to school barefoot. We enforce the rule of wearing a uniform in the attempt to keep their bodies covered and decent. Most of their mothers have less than a third-grade education. And many of our children drop out in the middle of primary school. Before their formative education has really begun, something gets in the way.
That something is poverty. Children drop out of school to help work and support the family, mostly on the farm or someone else’s farm. Very few jobs are available to primary school drop-outs. Getting ahead is impossible without a good paying job—after all, subsistence farming is not a lucrative career. The children grow up farming a small piece of ground, divide it among their siblings, have children, and need their children to work on the farm that only grows enough for them to live part way through another year. And on and on and on.
What can we do? How can we BREAK this cycle?
The first and best way to end the cycle of poverty is through education. Knowledge is power, the saying goes. This summer, Melissa, a team member, spent several weeks teaching a young girl, Rebecca, how to write her name. The task seems simple and unnoticeable. For Rebecca, it was the first step towards literacy. In a country where more than 50% of women can barely scribe an X when asked to sign their name, the fact that Rebecca can write her name is AMAZING! Wonderful! FANTASTIC! The opening of a doorway to a whole new life with possibilities and dreams! When we teach a child how to read and write, what doors are we opening? When we teach a boy how to create a story, or teach a girl how to count, what are we unlocking in their lives? The chance to become a writer? The opportunity to go to medical school? The possibility of a life not chained to one house, one farm, one future?
In my dad’s story, he walked uphill both ways, through the snow, barbed wire wrapped around his feet (the tale continues to grow with the passing years); what’s your story? How did you get to school? What miracles, transformation and development moved you along the way? Not long ago, one of our sponsors decided to go back to school after 34 years so she could get a better job, have a better life. We are privileged to have that opportunity here in America.
With your help, our children in Malawi have access to the gift of Education. With your support our children receive hot meals (breakfast and lunch), learn about Jesus, learn to write, read, do math. They learn to dream and hope for a future beyond the subsistence farm, as a nurse, a doctor, a teacher, a pastor, a president, a soldier, a journalist, a caterer, a professional soccer player and the list goes on. Grace Primary School is an integral part of creating a sustainable future for the communities we serve. And YOU are an integral part of our story.
Thank you for your generous gifts that help us lift children out of poverty, setting their feet on a firm foundation! Here are three ways you can help today:
3. Raise money with our exciting new peer-to-peer fundraising app by sharing with your family and friends.