wishing for a light at the end of the tunnel
Attorney called us this morning around 9am; we have an interview with one of the high school teachers. Meeting with the educators from N’wanati High has been one of our many goals during our time in Makuleke, and we knew it would not be an easy task. Many do not wish to speak with us regarding their school, are busy, or are simply uninterested. We knew that. However, a few are eager to speak. This would be our second interview.
Vulamni Maluleke teaches English to grade 11 learners. Her responses came from the heart. The three of us sat there eager to listen. Nadalie taking notes, Attorney listening, preparing to ask more if need be, while I was the one leading the discussion, recording it all on my phone. One of the first questions I asked her was if she enjoyed teaching. I usually save this for last, but something told me to bring it up first. Her answer was complicated. She loves her job; she wants the best for these learners, yet she finds it discouraging at the same time. Again I am overwhelmed with emotions. I’m frustrated, saddened, and unsure if there is any sort of solution for all of this. Is there even a way we can help? God I hope so. At one point of the interview I had to turn away. I was on the verge of tears. Vulamni told us the struggles she faces in the classroom. The lack of chairs, desks, and chalkboards, disrespectful students sometimes being the majority of class, and the fear she has when trying to take the stronger hand. She is afraid of her students at times. Some are on drugs and have no problem threatening her when she attempts to enforce the classroom rules.
Nevertheless, she knows she has students that have the drive. They are eager. They have potential. They take the initiative to go to the staff room to ask their teachers about assignments they don’t understand. They come find their educators and request them to class when they do not show. This tells me there is hope. But it is still so unfair.
I wish I had something more positive to share, but at this moment I can’t feel it. I’m sitting now outside of my hut, behind our tree trunk and wire built fence, watching two of my boys, three of their friends, and two year old Laty playing with the football in front of me. And I see love. I see compassion. I see hope. They are smiling. Happily playing with one another. Yet these struggles of education still loom. And I don’t know if there is a solution. These are great children with incredible potential. It’s just so hard to watch them, knowing the system that is supposed to help them reach that potential is failing them. I want to fix it. Everyone should want to fix it. And the change is going to have to come from within, but how?
I want Tuki to stop lying, to stop coming up with excuses. I want him to go to school. I want him to succeed, we all do. He is so clever, so full of inspiration not only for me but for his three nephews.
I wish Nesta, a seventeen-year-old girl, did not have to be constantly doing choirs. Working as a second mom for her family. She’s incredibly intelligent and I know she will persevere. She has the support from Sharing to Learn, from her family, from her friends, but needs it from her school. She is excelling without it. However, it shouldn’t be that way.
I want Kuhlula to know he is loved. He is learning though. I wish him a bright future and want him to know so many people care about him, despite his birth mother always telling him otherwise.
The youth of Makuleke, the youth of eager learners, know something more about life than people in the Western world may ever know. They know the grim circumstances of their education. How the government is failing them. How their education system is failing them. And that is where the ultimate unfairness lies. There are educators that do care and I want more than anything for them to come together, emanate their mission to these children, bringing out their full potential, showing them that they posses the strength and giving the faith they need to progress.
There always is a silver lining, there has to be. And in this case I think Sharing to Learn shows that it is possible. But its time for the next step. It wont be easy, but I truly believe that by sharing our stories, learning from one another, and getting more support from others, we can help create the change that is needed.