Imagine you were a kid (if you aren’t already) and imagine that you came from a really poor family. Imagine your father had to do labour to earn a living came drunk home every night. Wait, did I mention that “home” as in a small roof with no bathrooms and just a waterproof sheet on the sides to block out the rains? Oh, I guess not. That, yeah. And then imagine your mum had to sweep the streets or clean people’s houses every single day of the year, including weekends. Imagine your future was the same. If you were a male, you would eventually do labour (if you hadn’t started already whilst you went to school) and if you were a female, you would be married off at 18 (if you were lucky enough not to be married off earlier) and when you went to high school, you would be asked to quit it and join your mother in the sweeping or cleaning.
Imagine the only reason your parents sent you to school was so that you get that one free hot meal a day and a free warm glass of milk in the evening (occasionally) of which both they cannot afford. Imagine the only thing your parents could barely afford was one square meal a day only for two people because either of them or both of them spent most of their hard-earned money on lottery tickets, tobacco or the like. What would you do? Would you succumb and run off? Would you stay and suffer in silence? Would you try your best to study despite the cold or the lack of tube lights during the night-time?
I would definitely succumb to the situation and give up on life after trying my best to stop my parents from doing wrong things (if I was aware that they did such stuff and if I knew they were bad). And yet, this is not what these kids do! They don’t give up! Even after day in and day out with helpless families and with barely any teachers who can speak English and sitting on the cold stone floor without any desks to write on and no breakfast early in the morning before school, they are still passionate and have the desire in them to learn. They still pray and believe that someday something good will happen or someone good will come and help them. They still aspire to become doctors, engineers, lawyers, businessmen and businesswomen, teachers, leaders etc. They dream big. They see themselves getting somewhere good in life, with a big house, a car, and a good family. They still crack jokes, tickle each other and poke fun at each other; some even have the strength to do cartwheels and play sports!
I was deeply touched by the schoolkids at a local ‘Government-aided’ elementary school that I visited a week ago, where I volunteered to teach English along with a friend of mine. I was extremely disappointed, however, at the terrible situation of the timetable and schedule the kids followed every day. I mean, before we intervened, there were just two teachers who taught the kids. On the first day, I assumed that only these two teachers might’ve been there because the others might be busy teaching. None of them knew English. I mean, they were excellent at their own subjects. English and Computers were the subjects they asked us to teach the kids, and we assumed that there were teachers (other than the two we met) who taught other subjects who hadn’t come yet or were already upstairs. We realized a few days later that that wasn’t the case… There were indeed just two teachers for the whole school.
The school has four classrooms, two on the ground floor and two on the first floor. There are a total of around 70 kids from grades 1 to 5. The grade 2 and 3 students were the ones that we were assigned to. We went to the class which had to be split up into two parts; thankfully they had two blackboards and good chalk. So we started off, teaching them every day for 2 hours at first and then for one hour and a half on alternate days, every week, since we already have a pile of work that we have to finish during the course of our short summer break.
It is a lot of fun to teach them because they are so enthusiastic and because you get to learn a lot from them. I learned how lucky I was, I learned how selfish I was, I learnt how weak I was to give up at times even when I was lucky enough to have good parents, teachers, and friends to support me. I learned how lazy I was. And I learned how I was a failure given all the resources that I have! I learned how lucky I was to get all the nutrition from my meals, the cure from the medicines that my parents can afford and the love and encouragement.
So, after realizing so much, I decided to devote my heart and soul to continue teaching these kids, wherever I go, whatever I do and however I live, no matter how rich or poor I am, no matter what status and rewards I earn (hopefully XD). I will take time out to teach these children, no matter where I get in life, no matter how hectic my schedule gets. I will make sure I do this at least for two to three weeks a year. And I will make sure that the teacher, health, child-labour, clothes and meal situation improves because these kids are what defines a large part of our great country’s and world’s future and they deserve nothing but the best.