Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Hunger for Knowledge

There is a lot about my kids education that isn't ideal and could be better. With this past election I voted for everything that would help improve education. I think a good education provides freedom and happiness and I recognize that we live in a country where everyone can go to school and be given an opportunity to learn. After visiting schools in Africa I realized what a huge blessing that really is and that we should never take education for granted.

Visiting the schools was like stepping back in time. The kids have so little. The things I complain about with our schools pale in comparison with how little the children in Africa have. They have no books. There is no way to get a good education without books. The other day I suggested getting a new book for Abbie's class. "But we already have so many books" was her reply. The students in Africa go to class and with their pad of paper and pencil and write down everything the teacher writes on the board. After a few hours of this, if the teacher even shows up which more often than not doesn't happen, the students go home and study what they wrote. That is the extent of their education.
And that is the case for those who are lucky. Many of the students can't even make it to a school like this and the majority don't make it past primary school. Many parents can't afford to have their children go to school and many children don't have parents to get them there. And when they don't have education, there is so little they can do with their lives and the cycle continues. I met many amazing people who spend their lives digging ditches because they weren't given the opportunity for an education. This is a teenage boy I met at a boy's shelter. He had been living on the street but was taken in by this home. I can only imagine what his past has been like. Obviously it didn't involve school. Yet, this boy hungered for knowledge. He came to me with a Dr. Seuss book we had brought and for over an hour he pored over the words in that book. Desperate to read and understand yet so far behind. I have never seen such an intense desire to learn and to succeed. I hope he is able to succeed. In a book I read called, "Race Against Time" the author writes, "Africa faces at least two generations of children whose life of the mind, if it was given breath at all, will cease abruptly just as they enter their teens. It's unthinkable. Lost to the world will be hundreds of thousands of creative, gifted, often brilliant spirits. It's happened before in history. Between 1933 and 1945, we lost similar numbers who, had they lived, would have made enormous contributions in every profession, in literature and the arts, in academics, in science, in the entire kaleidoscope of human activity. The Holocaust fractured a large piece of civilization. This is a different, but analogous, holocaust." When we asked the orphans who are being cared for by Mothers Without Borders what they wanted to be when they grew up, they shared their dreams of being doctors, teachers, scientists, nurses. I want so badly for them to accomplish these dreams. To be given the chance to help the people in the country and to make a difference. Evans is one who dreams of becoming a doctor. Living as an orphan with his brother put him behind in his education. But he tries as hard as he can and he loves to learn. Because of this, Heather and I were excited to give him the opportunity to further his education. To make sure he is not one of those brilliant spirits who is lost to the world. He is now at a boarding school which is the best chance they have to get a good education. The night before he left his family called Heather to thank her for giving him this chance and he shared his gratitude as well. I feel it is the least we can do and hope to help others as well. If this is something you are interested in doing as well, please let me know! There are so many ways to help and such a huge need to give these children the education they deserve.

6 comments:

Rachel said...

I am interested in some ideas to get my ward sisters involved in-- I am trying desperately to get them more involved in humanitarian projects. I have loved reading the stories that you and Heather have told and, with your permission, would love to tell some of your stories and get going on some great projects! I can't wait until I am done with school and can go to Africa with a medical team to help out!

Julie said...

Look at the brightness in Evan's eyes! So much potential. I hope he is able to grow and see his dream through.

Julie said...

Hey Heidi! I've tagged you on my blog. I'm just loving finding out what makes you tick. Have fun! Can't wait to read it.

Shelly Karren said...

It's weird to be in Boston at the heart of so many great Universities with such intelligent people and read this post. We are blessed to have gained a formal education and we are also blessed to have gained an informal education from our dear friends and family in Africa. The later has certainly made a greater impact on me.

Shelly Karren said...

Oops!!! That last comment was Heather. I didn't realize that Shelly was logged in.

Tonya said...

I love that you keep on going with your Africa posts. I always read about your experiences and wish to experinece them myself one day. I also learn a lot about how much we take for granted living here in America. Keep 'em coming.