Do you comprehend?
We go through systems and daily routines that are obviously the norm. What makes news is the ‘non-normal’; drought and hunger, civil wars, kidnappings; and our hearts always go out to people suffering such unfortunate happenings. In matters education, I have felt a deep concern for pupils going without text books, girls missing school days because of their period but never have I come across a situation where a 13 year old cannot read or comprehend text. Right then I knew, I had to see to believe and give my time and effort to help these children learn to read and understand basic English.
I volunteered through Kusoma Tu at the government’s rehabilitation center in Getathuru. The institution is like a boy’s school with the children uniformed and going through structured daily activities (just like it was in school). Monday mornings were my time with these boys. A vibrant group with such promise, speaking English and Swahili, excited to see you, making jokes, ready for the day…yet some can hardly read, others can read but do not understand what they have read. Teenagers…? It was a shocking moment. How do you go about daily knowing you cannot read or understand what you read? What does that do to you? What does it mean for you among peers and during class sessions? What future does that already spell out for you? Does it mean that you are only cut out for a certain kind of job, life, class? It is disheartening just thinking about it but seeing the boys vibrant every other Monday, go through reading exercises, asking questions and being real motivates me to set time aside for them. To ensure they learn to hold their heads high because they can read and understand basic language. To show them that they too are God’s creation and deserve a great future. To nurture a sense of confidence within them as they learn.
It is abnormal, but a proven reality that needs immediate action. Being gifted with time, it is important to make use of it for the growth of society as well. Make time for these kids. Volunteer your skills and effort to help a child learn how to read and encourage them while at it. It is only by sharing knowledge and skills acquired that we equip the next generation.
Anne Nasumba – Lapid Leaders Africa volunteer