The last two weeks have been rather challenging. Challenging in a sense that I am still dealing with issues that I myself cannot relate to. Can I give advice and feel confident in what I am saying? I would love to hear other peoples thoughts on this matter so please feel free to comment below, I will always respond.
You know, I discover with every day that there are many happenings that fly under the radar. The only way to discover these things is to ask the right questions. Lately some things have been happening in neighbourhoods that our learners are from and it sparked a curiosity in me, which lead me to question the depth of what really goes on. As a project assistant and general caretaker of our learners, I felt it was my duty to know more in order to better understand these situations. Now, I am not going in search of things to write blogs about, this is literally the last thing on my mind when these things happen and to be honest, I have held off writing about this as I was not sure if I wanted to. I promised to be honest and blunt and I am true to my word so I have decided to share with you some of the things that our children must deal with on a regular basis. I ask that you think of the children as regular children, kids you may know, who play and laugh and persevere like any other, because that is what they are, children.
A young boy, grade 4, who has always been close to the volunteers, had been acting rather strange for some time and getting words out of him is a difficult task at times. He is an extremely deep thinker with an immense set of emotional demons yet his smile is something you see regularly, something you look forward to seeing. Plain and simple, he has witnessed two men, in an attempt to rape his step sister of 11 years old. By men I mean late 20's early 30's. He walked in on a man with his pants around his ankles and a frightened young sister. His appearance luckily halted the act and the deed was never committed yet he was threatened with his life if he told anyone. This man was living in his building at the time. This young boy, kept this quiet in fear, in absolute horror and as someone with anxiety I can tell you, he has a strength that I will never have, ever, for that can crush a soul so quickly. Regardless of this, he turned up to school every day, did his homework and performed in class with the weight of what he had witnessed in his every step. He would often simply just start crying, sadly this would happen during his happiest times when he managed to forget about what he saw. This is a boy of 10 that I am proud to say I look up to. Can I give a child advice on this? Is this fair? He is very close to another volunteer and I am so glad that he has her to confide in but what can we do in this situation but speak to the authorities and make sure he knows he is safe? Can I even fathom the sheer terror experienced in this situation and the paranoia of fearing for your life every time you leave school? I cannot.
I can only do what I can do and that is to love and appreciate this brilliant young man who I can only hope will grow up to be compassionate as he is now.
In this neighbourhood, we are afraid to walk. It is because of this that I asked a group of students to tell me if anything else is happening around them. As if it were a regular occurrence, I was told that another child had been abducted, a police raid occurred within a building that some of the students live in and people were removed, that they feel safe inside their home but not for a moment after they have stepped out the door. Can I tell them that it is alright? That they will be perfectly fine? Can I lie to them as it is my duty to make sure they feel safe at school? I cannot.
It is in these moments that I find myself humbled and lost for words. That in that exact moment, I am beneath them, with nothing more than admiration and respect for their resilience and ability to still rejoice in friendship and freedom. I mean, when I spend a bit of money that I wished I had saved, I lose sleep at night... seriously? I still do this! Why can I not shake this ridiculous notion that that is somehow actually a problem!? I used to be anxious because I was out of work or I had not done something by the time I was supposed to, that I accidentally said something that might hurt someones feelings a little tiny itty bitty bit. These are real problems, real problems that I CANNOT relate to and it kills me very time I open my mouth because I have no right to tell them that tomorrow will be better. All I can do is hope against hope that we are benefitting these children and enhancing their quality of life and it gives me pleasure to know that we as a team are doing all that we can in order to achieve that goal. When you are stressed, and this is advice from a stress head :) just think for a moment whether is is really something worth stressing over because I can tell you that 9 times out of 10 the answer will be 'phhhh screw that'.
I am being taught life lessons by children in primary school. Never will I ever regret a second spent with them, no matter what that second is spent doing and the beauty of it is that they know not that I as an adult, am benefitting from every step they take.
If you want to know more, please head to www.three2six.co.za and have a look around. For those who want to hear some stories about our children and their journeys to South Africa, watch the video below. The story told in the video is real and gives you an insight into what they have already been through.