Next month, donors and supporters of World Teacher Aid’s Schools will visit what their donations have accomplished. They will come face to face with the children that their donations are helping. They will see how important the newly built school is for each and every member of this community.
This is a great opportunity to get a glimpse how much of a difference you can make in the lives of kids across the world. The long term effect is what we are really about at WTA. And that’s something even the donors may not see, and it’s not going to be something Sam or I will even see fully. It’s something we can only catch glimpses of.
The long term impact of building a school in a remote and needy community like Lemolo is very powerful. It’s an impact that grows by generations. Like I said, it can only be glimpsed.
I’ve spent some a good deal of time in Africa, and wI too have seen clear glimpses of the good that comes from building a school for a village. I have though seen all too clearly the sad effect of not prioritizing education in a young person’s life. When a young person grows up without access to education, the detrimental effect of this will be felt for the rest of their lives. But it’s not just they who feel the effects, it’s everyone in their community too.
This past month, I’ve been in Sierra Leone, in the midst of an outbreak of the fatal virus Ebola. It has now become the diseases most deadly outbreak in history, and the reason for it’s spread according to experts, is “mistrust, intimidation and hostility from part of the population”. In essence, people are refusing to protect themselves or even believe it’s real. Workers trying to sensitize villages came under attack, and patients with symptoms refused to be treated and instead ran into the forest to consult their local traditional healer (who then promptly spread the disease to others).
When I spoke to people in Sierra Leone about Ebola, the misinformation and mistrust shocked me. I heard people say to me, “I don’t believe it’s real. The only thing that would convince me is if I saw an Ebola victim in front of me.” Nevermind that it would already be too late for them…
Not so long ago, Sierra Leone was gripped in a terrible, diamond-funded war for over a decade. An entire generation spent their childhood running from catastrophes and never settling enough to go to school for a full year before the war reached them again. And now, those kids, grown up, who’ve never managed a year in a high school science class, don’t believe Ebola is real.
We all see in our own experience how a good education is the difference between success and struggle, but in Africa, the stakes are much higher. It can be the difference between trusting science and trusting rumours and mistruths. With fatal epidemics like Ebola, having access to good education when you’re young can even mean the difference between life and death as an adult.
This is how important your contribution to our work is. Influencing the children in Lemolo will make a dramatic impact in their lives but also in the lives of all the community members around them. Those on the trip next month may not see the full impact, but they’ll get a glimpse of it.
Other things the travellers will get on their donor trip: a view of Springs High School and Shalom Primary School connected to the electric grid. They will have what 90% of public schools in Sub-Saharan Africa don’t: Lights.
There’s so much they’ll see, and Sam and I will be doing our best to share it with you here on our blog.