Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stark contrast!

Packing and checking in preparation for the great end of term despatch!.
The gold certificate winners - each has been awarded at least 90 merits - Great Achievement!

All the certificate recipients at the end of term assembly. Well done all!
Looking back to my school days, I am amazed at the contrast between me and my students here. At the end of each day, never mind the end of term, you couldn't see me for dust. It was the end of term yesterday and the 160 live-in youngsters are due for despatch. Some of them have what I would deem a normal response and are happy to go home, pleased to be able to go and tell stories of their progress, show their certificates to their parents and so on. Others are hanging around with sorry faces and pleading to be allowed to stay.

The options if they go 'home' are sometimes really quite horrible. EducAid has become their home and their family so the holidays turn into something of a torment. If sent to family members who are not their direct family, because their real parents are dead, untraceable or too far to be accessed, they will likely be subjected to endless domestic chores and total indifference to any progress or achievements. Even when they are going to parents who care, it is probable that they will be sent straight out to the rice swamps and that food and support will be scarce.

On the one hand, we do feel that it is good for parents to remember that they have some responsibility to the children they brought into the world and also for them to be conscious what is happening to them through their education. We also need to give some space and peace to the staff who have worked extremely hard during the year and cannot rest with a school full of kids needing supervising. On the other hand, if the 'holiday' turns into a trauma from which they will struggle to even return as there will be nobody to pay their transport, we clearly can't, in conscience, force them to go.

It is a compliment to EducAid that they prefer here to their other options and indeed the compound is a happy place, despite the basic conditions. The brotherly, sisterly relationships that develop are real and supportive too. EducAid is family indeed to many of these youngsters. It would be good, though, if more of them had more home support too for them to really stand strong against all the trials that life in this country can include.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to www.educaid.org.uk

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