Friday, July 08, 2011

An Education

On our second day in Marurui, I ended up captivated by some middle school students.  It was a Saturday afternoon.  They had school that morning, but they were still there when we arrived doing extra studies.  When I walked into the school yard, about 20 of them huddled around me like I was the craziest thing they'd seen.

"Do you know Obama?"

"Did you study Swahili in school?

"Why are you white?"

"Why do you have freckles?"

"Why isn't your hair kinky?"

The questions were rapid fire.  They had me completely surrounded.  All I could do was answer and as soon as I answered, another question was being fired my way.  This went on for a good 15 minutes and I loved every minute of it.

Two girls grabbed each of my hands and asked me to follow them to their classroom.  "Amy, please come see our classroom!"  How could I resist.  I did ask them if it was okay, and of course they assured me it was.  Uncertain of whether or not it was appropriate, I climbed the skinny stairwell holding the hands of two girls who walked in front of me.  We got to the top and turned the corner to the left.  They led me into a tiny classroom about 12x20 (much bigger than I expected).  There were about 20 square, wooden desks, each with their own personality.  Each of the girls showed me their desks and looked up at me with the biggest eyes and smiles I've seen in a long time.  The fact that I was paying attention to them and that I cared enough to go upstairs with them and spend time with them was so huge to each one of them.

"Will you sing us a song?"

If you know me at all, you know this is when I become petrified.  These girls kidnapped me so I could sing to them?  That's absolutely insane!

"Umm...I don't really have a very pretty voice.  We should go back downstairs and ask Beth to sing for us.  She is really good!"

"No!  We want you to sing to us!"  The chanting and pleading continued.

"What do you want me to sing?"

"Amazing Grace!!"

I knew I had to face my fear, so I bargained with them.

"I'll only sing it if you sing with me."


I looked around first to make sure someone wasn't setting me up, then I took a deep breath and mustered up enough courage to start singing "Ahh-maaazing Grace how sweet the sound..."

We sang the first verse and I wiped the sweat off my forehead.  I don't have a good voice and I've never pretended to.  But they didn't care.  It didn't matter.  To them, it was beautiful.

Once we were finished singing, just in case I hadn't been taken out of my comfort zone enough, a girl stepped out and asked me if she could teach me a dance.  Really?  Me?  At this point, I knew God was giggling at me.  So I laughed.  And I danced.  Because that's all I could really do.

The boys started filtering back in to the classroom.  They asked questions and I answered.  I asked questions and they answered.  I asked about their studies and what they were learning.  We took some pictures.

8th Grade Class

8th Grade Class 

I had been upstairs with them for about 20 minutes and I was starting to wonder if everyone had left me yet.  I asked if they wanted to go back outside and we started down the steps.  But a big booming voice yelled "Get back in your classroom!"  So I hugged them goodbye and went back outside on my own.

The minute I stepped foot back on that playground, I was surround by a large group of 7th graders.  I had some kind of middle school magnet that day.  I honestly have no idea what it was about me, but they were flocking to me.  Just as before, this group was incredibly inquisitive.  Again, I was asked if I knew Obama (Those Kenyans LOVE Obama!).  They asked a lot of questions about life in America...houses, school, classes, university.  They were so intrigued that I didn't learn Swahili in school, but I did learn Spanish.  Again, I was asked to sing...this time, the National Anthem.  This time I wasn't alone, so I made Lauryn come sing it with me (as awful as it probably was, I really wish this was on video somewhere!).

When it was time to leave, they all piled around me and gave me huge hugs.  There were two girls, Stephanie and Bernice that hugged me tight and told me that they would never forget me.  And I am most certain that I won't forget them.

7th Grade Class

One thing that I learned on this trip is the huge importance of an education.  Education in Kenya is not free.  It actually costs hundreds of dollars a year.  Most Kenyans can't afford to send their children to school and even if they can, they usually have multiple children and can't afford to send them all.  Can you imagine having to choose which of your children to send to school?  Which child do you pick to have a better life?  Because without an education, these kids won't be able to get a good job, won't be able to make enough money to support their families, won't be able to send their children to school.  And the vicious cycle continues.

We have gotten the blessing to start a sponsorship program for the children of the women who sew with Jacaranda.  We have been working hard to get this off the ground.  Over the next few weeks, we will have most of the details worked out and I'll be sharing them with you.  This is something I'm so excited about seeing come to fruition!  Please start praying that we are able to sponsor these children.  To provide them an education, a brighter future, and hope.  We can make a difference!

1 comment:

Jessica said...

So, do you know Obama?
Thank you for sharing this journey and adventure with us through your blog. I love how you describe the different elements and share your thoughts. It sounds like such a neat and life changing trip!