Education for all requires heroes and heroines
Imagine: you have just managed to get to your fifth birthday. It is time to start school! You have watched the neighbours’ children gleefully skip off to school in the morning – heavy backpacks dangling from their tiny backs, shoes shiny, clothes stiff from ironing and faces gleaming with excitement. And now it is your turn. Time to finally learn the alphabet, enjoy curving out letters and numbers as you learn how to write your name. But sadly, all this remains just that – a figment of the imagination.
Instead of school, you have to get up, do the house chores, take care of your ailing parent(s) and quickly grow up! School remains a distant dream. This was the fate of the 40 children I visited today in Kibera, until they met Reggynnah. Or, rather, until Reggynnah met them.
During my Skype interview, I mentioned that it is amazing to see the efforts of everyone in their own right to get an education. This is a story that represents that of so many. I do not like reinforcing stereotypes about Africa, but Regynnah’s story is a story of success.
It was a while back that I had heard about Regygnnah, a 26 year-old girl, who houses and teaches young children affected by HIV Aids. She started angelsofhope-Kibera in 2010 at the age of 24. Most girls her age are trying to figure out the next fashion fad, gossiping about their boyfriends and, if they are ambitious, pursuing their post-secondary education either in the university or in a college. Well, not so for Regynnah. She lives with 8 of these children like their mother at her home in the heart of Kibera.
Most of the children have no one else to turn to. They have either lost their parents, or neither their parents nor their relatives are able to take care of them. Survival becomes a priority over everything else, including education. So they turn to Regynnah. She gives them a space to learn the alphabet, learn how to read and write, have a roof over their heads, food in their little bellies and a home.
I arrive at their home just as break starts, and the teacher, who also doubles as a cook, is serving them porridge. After break, it’s time for class. Charts with numbers, days of the week, the alphabet and pictures of animals among others form the décor of the class. Today they are learning about sources of water (something quite scarce in this part of town).
Her typical day starts with her taking the 8 children she lives with to school. She then stays with the children and helps around the school until 4 when she takes the children back to her mothers’ house. She also intends to join a college in town for a course in community development. She tells me she had initially wanted to do journalism.
For many like Regynnah, they know that waiting for the government to intervene in educating these children will take ages. By then, many of these children will have missed out on a chance to go to school and have hope for the future. In my view, she is a heroine in the fight for education for all.
For more about Regynnah, check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOtCFQotUEo&feature=youtu.be
DateJune 12, 2012 | 12:41 pm