I have an NGO and work in LIvingstone Zambia with street orphans and vulnerable children in this developing country. This of course includes contact with and help for aunties and grandmothers, many of whom are forced to take as many as 18 little related children rather than move forward with their hopes and dreams.
I get very discouraged because most of these children's brains are not usually the best. Many damaged by malnutrition when young, dehydration, abuse, genetics, etc. They are very concrete at best. You can teach them one plus one equals two. But the concept of multiple choice is like putting a fish in the desert. To make progress is almost impossible. I, on the other hand, have always questioned life with "What can we do with what we have left?"
I am often in Livingstone because I believe "hands on" is necessary to progress and one way to guard against corruption, using money for self-gain, etc.
My kids who come to the hotel each evening for food discussion, debate and a motivational movie are very concrete. I always say they cannot see beyond their nose. As you can see, this is very limiting in terms of making good decisions. But I keep going.
Last week, Derick, one of my older street orphans emailed me in America and asked "Do you want me to get the Movie projector now from the Convent so this time when you come, we will be sure to have it to watch your motivational movies?" This does not sound like much to you but a few months ago when I was there Derick had waited until the last minute to pick up my movie projector from St. Mary's school, they had closed and we were unable to watch the movies they so enjoy and learn from.
This was a breakthrough moment. It doesn't sound like much to most people. BUT for all the years and times of working for change, this was a BIG deal. Perhaps the lesson is not to give up but to expect a lessor level and longer time frame and know that change can come if only on a small level.
Beverly, another male street orphan we sponsor, is not academically smart enough to do well in high school. In fact, he does not pass. BUT he sees me reading all the time and sees me pushing reading to others. Recently when I sent him 10 USD for soap, lotion and anything he deemed important to him he used part of the money to by a library card. Yesterday he emailed me asking about if a person can get over a nervous breakdown. He had been reading about this at the library and was curious to know. While is is 19 years old and it is took late to academically succeed, I think it indicates that progress can be made at a young age IF the quality people know how to work with this population. Curiosity has always been an indication to me that people are smarter than they may initially seem. I share this in the hopes it will incite action to look for opportunities, wherever you are, to make a difference.
Would like to hear comments.