A young girl came into the compound, which required some courage since we are so mysterious to the local people. She was covered in dust head to toe and her clothes were torn. It was impossible to tell what colour they had once been. Her hair was in tiny braids.
She came towards us and made straight for the two black faces, launching into a long speech in Kiswahili. It turned out that someone had told her this was where people helped children go to school and she wanted to learn!!
With regret we said that we helped older girls and she turned to leave. She walked slowly, her shoulders drooping. She was only half-way up the path when I remembered a small literacy project not far away where a group of volunteer teachers have about 17 kids who have no hope of schooling. We've visited them a couple of times and they were the people who received our donated rooster before Christmas.
I went after her and had our secretary translate. She stood and listened, tears streaming down her face, as she mopped her nose on the inside of her T shirt. She told us she was ten, had never been to school and was desperate to go to class. I wrote a note for the teacher at the project, but told the child to go the next morning since the classes finished at noon, and to come back to let me know what they said. To be honest, I was prepared to pay her fees myself.
She took off and of course ran right to the project. She came back ecstatic a little while later and told our receptionist that they wanted to see her parents, but if her parents wouldn't go, she'd go on her own and stay in the class. This kid (Miriam) deserves to learn.
I plan to walk down to the project on Monday morning. We have some recycling paper they can use, plus the soda bottle tops we collect for them The little kids use them for counting and sorting. I can't wait to see if Miriam is at a desk.