I believe that children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside, give them a sense of pride to make it easier. It was a brand new day, the sky was blue and radiant and I was just happy. I decided to participate in the Vitabu Vyetu Initiative that seeks to gather and donate books to children who don't have the privilege of having them in school.
I love to read stories especially those about successful people. Immediately I got off the bus that was to take me to Kawangware Primary School, some uncomfortable feeling attacked my stomach. I had never been in the area all alone but I had to do what brought me to the place. Once I was in, I sat down for a while waiting for the activities of the day to begin such as painting the library and stamping of books. I did not do that for long and I thought it would be a good idea to walk around the school. I got to the parade grounds and I saw many children playing. Why not watch them? I thought. I went up the stairs so that I could have a better view.
''Pass the ball to me, goal, hooray!" Oh what a magnificent sight!! I went to a public school for some time and I remembered how I was. I played 'kati,' rounders, 'katolo,' the list is just too long. I was a child, I was happy and I had the energy. This was unlike some of the private schools I went to. I think that some of them just drill children to study and they don't allow them to be just children. I was up there for some time, enjoying how some of the children would fall down and stand up immediately. No matter what, they had to kick the ball. It did not matter that were a little hurt. They were playing football. A few minutes went by and they were called back to class. Oh how sad.
I wished it could go on for just a little longer. From the upper block, I could see the entire school and it broke my heart. The classrooms were old, the pavements were in ruins, the toilets scared me. Yet despite this, the children were happy. They were together. They all have a beautiful story. No matter where they are from, their dreams are valid. As I went to check whether the Vitabu Vyetu activities had began, I bumped into a man. "Are you lost?" he asked. I smiled and I said I wasn't. He asked if I wanted to join them and I said I did.
He started telling me about the activities they were doing with the children. It is unfortunate that so many of them who are in class 5-8 cannot read. He works for a church that had taken the initiative to teach these children how to read and spell. They also donate books and put one hundred shillings in each book to help in rehabilitating the school. In fact on that particular day they were repairing the toilets and repainting a part of the school. I learnt that if I want to see change then I have to be the change. I however believe that the government should do more in our public schools.
He invited me to go to one of the classrooms to have a look at what they do. I walked into a class after greeting some teachers in the staffroom. The children all looked innocent, eager to learn and happy that a group of people had stretched out their hands to them. They read a few pages of their storybooks before being asked to narrate the stories so as to improve on their speaking skills. Later, they were asked to spell some words which they did with so much joy.
I looked at some of the books they were reading and a nostalgic feeling ran through my entire body. It was in books that I as a child, tried to bury my battle with low self esteem. The same books told me I could dream big. The same books encouraged me to meet Julie Gichuru. The same books gave me too many fantasies haha. Sometimes after reading Cinderella stories I would imagine I was the Queen of England. I was glad that my father taught me how to read from a tender age. I was always the best reader in my class because I could do it without stammering. As I looked into the children's eyes, I saw desperation to figure out how to spell simple words but in the same eyes I saw hope.
Hope that one day they would read, hope that they would be able to speak without stumbling over words. This is the Audacity to Hope. Break time was soon back and they ran out to play. This time they had to work in teams so as to form letters whenever they were instructed to do so. Two teams had to compete against each other. They had to cooperate otherwise no letter would be formed. Whenever a team had completed forming a letter, they would immediately squat and yell with joy. That was the sound of victory. The sound of the power of the dream. The kind of sound that said, ''No matter where I am, I will reach for my own star, I will have faith in things unseen and I will embrace my fears." It was a simple game but team work was key. They had to work together to win. They sang team songs. One song said, ''We are ninjas, we don't deal with losers.'' This was a song they were willing to sing louder and clearer because they knew the world was listening.
All children need is a little hope. A word of encouragement from parents. I advice parents to never say words such as stupid to their children despite their flaws. Bring out the best in them so that they grow up to be strong and happy individuals. I was very emotional that day because I was reminded that in me, there is still an inner child and I want that inner child to be reflected in my outer being. There is so much strength in all of us, every woman child and man. Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be!!
Blessings to you,