In working through our programs and finding university resources we have come across the shadows of classic economic obstacles. Resources are limited. Always. Be your resources physical, things like money or paper, or intangible; time, drive, the ability to go against cultural norms and create something different.
I saw layers of the educational system today, layers that describe these limitations beautifully. This morning we had a meeting at Wits University fall through, and though the professor was kind and apologetic, it signaled how important this project stands in her daily life and the progression of their university programs. Next we met with a man who helps bridge learning gaps in children and in adults around the community. He was passionate, but reserved. Our project coordinator and the blunt nature of our conversation easily intimidated him. Needless to say, he left quite quickly, wanting much more from us than we from him. Leaving the center and our hopes for this university program deflated.
The third interaction was one that I hadn’t set up, but ended up being the most influential on my day, and thus on this post. We’ll frame it like a joke.
A girl walks into the center
Segero says “hey, why the long face?”
She responds “I just came from school, have you seen Matome? I am here to talk about my community service project”
“Hahaha no, you cannot do it here, you have come too late.”
The sad truth is that today I was shown how little education is regarded and how much of an uphill battle it is for children to support themselves and create their own drive to pull themselves out of the communities from which they have been brought up. This girl, through the approximately 2 minute conversation I had with her, told me that she had run to the center after school today (bear in mind that most kids are out on holiday and that she is studying during hers so that she can do well on her Matric- the exams to get into university and really the rest of your life) in order to set up her community service project she is doing for an outside organization. She told me that she wants to go to university, but like any senior in high school, isn’t sure in what. The reaction from the center to this girl was flippant and uncaring; from a center whose role is to help the community and to build up child empowerment.
Help is useless without resource and the resources we have—they’re less than impressive.