During one of our visits at the Arise School we followed some children back home after the classes were finished. I was shocked to find out that some of them had to leave home at 05:00 in the morning and walk long distances in order to make it to school for their classes; and yet I remember complaining having to wake up at 07:00 to be driven to school for 08:00 by dad – what a luxury.
The children we followed were of the lucky ones to live close by, in the Village of Wiri. I think this was one of the most horrible yet eye-opening days I had in Tanzania.
The majority of houses we visited consisted of one room with a ‘bed’ on which as many as 7 people would sleep on. The houses only had 2-3 holes through which let some sun rays pass through. Needless to say that there was no proper sanitation and no electricity.
The saddest part was that the majority of houses were run by single mothers whose husbands magically disappeared one day – with no justification.
These are the houses people live in at Wiri. You can see how their kitchen and toilet are not even proper built units.
Children searching for clean water
A notable case was Pascali’s (7) family. Things are difficult as Pascali’s mother has to walk a long distance into the woods to cut barks and then carry that back so that she can sell it off and get paid just enough to get food for the house. Pascali was lucky enough to have a sponsor and attend Arise School. Unfortunately, his sister Esta (4) did not get that chance. Pascali felt that him receiving education while Esta was left all day long alone in the fields around their house was pretty unfair so he made sure he taught her everything he learned at school during the afternoon when he was home.
I will never forget the view we were faced with when reaching Pascali’s house. Esta was exploring the fields all alone. We called her to come closer but she seemed sceptical and aloof. She then started hamming a song children sing in Arise. Pascali told us he taught her how to sing it and my heart melted. While I was stood there watching this little girl in torn and dirty clothes, holding a piece of plastic digging in the field I heard this fierce noise of an engine. I turn around to see that it was two men who live in another house close by, roaming in the village using a motorcycle. And I thought to myself… How easy would it be for anyone in their position to get off the motorcycle, approach Esta and abuse her? How easy would it be considering there is no house around hers for someone to look out for her, when her one and only parent is working hard far away to bring home some bread and her brother being away at school? Easy-peasy.
Sometimes we turn a blind eye to situations which make us feel uncomfortable. Uncomfortable not only because they are harshly unfair but also because we feel as though we have shared responsibility – which we, most of the times, do not take. And we know that. We know that being ignorant is easy; easier than accepting that, firstly, there is a problem, and secondly that there is something WE can do about it. Self-efficacy is the term I am looking for.
We found Esta a sponsor by the end of our trip. Esta now no longer wears torn clothes and is no longer exposed alone. She goes to school with Pascali and she returns home with Pascali. Esta now has equal chances of flourishing. Esta is no longer the lost gone girl in the fields who did not know how to smile. She is now a vibrant young girl thirsty for knowledge who is given her chance to prove her abilities.
Esta helped me have an insight of the harsh reality millions of children are facing. Esta was lucky to find a sponsor.
Would you consider to sponsor a child and end its misery? Protect it?
All of the children of the world are OUR shared responsibility.
Esta’s story reminds me of the lyrics of this Greek song which says “The world will change neither with mere discussions nor with prayers”.
Things do not magically happen – they get done.
Esta (top); her mother carrying wood (bottom).
For more information on how to sponsor a child please contact Sue and Ron Hayes (ACE Charity)