It is Friday once more and thus the day for you to get to know another of our school children. Today it is Shelly, a jolly girl of eight years who is in our lowest class, a preschool class in which the children learn the alphabet and many songs, rhymes and poems.
Shelly sometimes introduces herself as ‘Selly’ and you will mostly find her running around, laughing and playing. That’s how we met her when we were in a boy’s home close to hers. She was still in her school dress, several hours after coming home – she could not be bothered with changing.
We asked her to take us to her home where we met her mother and family and got to know a bit more about the background of this girl. Her father is a mason and earns about 50 US-Dollar per month but his mother tells that there is not always much left of it for home: he gambles, plays cards for money. Sometimes he wins, more often he loses. And if he wins, he spends his money on alcohol.
There is not much left for his wife, his two daughters and his two sons. That’s how they are still living in their old house with two rooms simply made of bricks, without any toilet. Showering is done out in the courtyard and their restroom is the gutter out on the road.
Shelly has an older sister but both brothers are younger than her. As it looks like however, she will soon be the most educated girl in their home. Her sister has been to a government school for a few years but has not even properly learnt reading and writing. She doesn’t go there anymore. When we asked her mother how old the girl was, she answered ‘18 or 19’ although she is clearly only about 13 or 14 years old. Maybe the family is preparing for marrying her and already start telling that she is of legal age for marriage. We have right away told the girl and her mother that we would be happy to teach the girl in our school next year.
It was a visit that made us thoughtful once more, as the situation of this simple family is so in contrast to the happy and jolly nature of Shelly. The teachers praise her for working quickly and thoroughly – and of course mention how lively she is.
We hope that we will be able to teach not only Shelly but Shelly’s sister as well in the next year!