Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Big Man With The Computer

When I gave Worfa my old netbook, he was thrilled- even as he tried to open it upside down and backwards at first. (His computer lessons will begin shortly.) Beaming, he said, "I'm a big man now!"

This is the man gave up going to the university to pay for his brother's tuition instead. The man who fought for his wife's acceptance into his family despite the heavy stigma of being cihldless in this culture. The man who dreamed of creating a school for the children who need it most, and made that dream a reality. It doesn't take exagerration to see that Worfa is someone who stands larger than life.

I told him, "Worfa, you were always a big man. Now you're just a big man with a computer." He grinned hesitantly, looked at the computer and just nodded.

The morning after I arrived in Aflao, I went with Worfa and Victoria to see SISCO at its new location. They found a plot of land here in Awakorme, easy walking distance from the house, with good cinderblock walls and enough space for the kids to run around during breaks.
I can't believe how much the school has grown.

It started as a dream. Just Worfa sitting down with Andy and I and saying, "I have an idea..." Now I look at this school full of children running around and playing and doing their lessons, and I can't even wrap my head around the fact that this is something we started. This is the same school that we opened a month before I left, proud of our thirty-some students in their three tiny classrooms. Now we have more students than that just on scholarship alone.

The school employs about half a dozen teachers, incuding three other members of the Gomashie family. Victoria cooks for the students, Worfa's nephew Prosper teachers stages P2 and P3 (the same stages I taught!), and his brother Robert is also a teacher. My mind isn't made up about two of the women yet, but I like the older woman who teaches the play group and the French teacher is absolutely fantastic from what I've seen so far.
Six of my Meerkats are in school there- Christian, Sonia, Daniel, Xorlali, Gracious and Lucky. The best part of being here has been seeing how they've grown. Christian and Sonia- both approximately 13 now- have matured SO much, and their English is much, much better than it was two years ago. Lucky was only about two years old when I left, and it's fun to see her coming into her personality now that she's a bit older. Of course, she's just as outrageously outgoing and devious as ever, but some things shouldn't change.
I have two new Meerkats too: Gracious and Lucky's mother, Abla, had a daughter named Blessing, who seems to be about a year old now. And Sonia and Daniel's mother, Rose, had a baby girl named Catherine two months after I left. Sonia thinks it's great that every time she calls "Catherine!", she gets both me and her little sister running.
All of these kids are the reason I was so willing to commit to being a part of this school in the first place. I wanted them to have a chance at a better life. The senior class (the oldest class at SISCO), which includes Christian and Sonia, will take their exams before too long. Their scores will determine if they have a shot at going to a J.S.S. school to continue their education.
I, for one, am rooting for them. They've come so far already.

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