A walk up the dirt road past small brick houses with swept dirt yards and friendly faces who waved their greetings and children who called, "Hello, Muzungu!" (white person) led me to Annette's house.
But when I reached her place I found her veggie stand sitting empty in the front yard where last year it had offered avocados, tomatoes, onions, garlic and Irish potatoes. We call to Annette who is behind the house working in her outdoor kitchen.
I wanted to catch up and know how things were going in her life. It was small talk until suddenly it wasn't. "My oldest son can't go to school. My husband won't pay his school fees because he isn't his father. " I struggled to be sure I understood. Language and cultural barriers sometimes leave me with more questions than answers. But, yes. I had understood correctly.
There are three brothers but the oldest has a different father. The family fell on hard times and school was the first thing to go. Like most developing nations, education is the ticket out of poverty. It is sought after and valued highly. Innocent, the oldest of Annette's boys is 12 years old and should be in P (primary) 6. Instead he is in P3 because his stepfather doesn't pay his school fees. Emanuel and Robert, Annette's younger boys, have not finished last years exams allowing them to pass to the next grade. Now it's time to register for the new school year. The family still lacks the money to enroll.
Hope and Care School is a close walk down the hill from Annette's house. It would be a great option for Innocent and his brothers. It's a private Christian school with over 400 students, and teachers who are diligently teaching to a higher academic standard. Just this past year the P7 class ALL passed their end of the year testing with the highest grades in their region making it possible to pursue the next level of secondary grades.
My heart went out to this mother, my friend, because I get her heart. My kids have it good. Education choices and options abound. But what about Annette and her children? They can't even afford the government school fees which isn't a great option academically because teachers don't earn much and aren't motivated to teach well.
For just $30/ month, you can make a way for Innocent Ssebwatato to go to school. And not just pay his school fees. Sponsorship provides a meal everyday, clothing, school supplies, and medical and dental care. What a small way to make a huge difference! You can check out the details here: https://impact.yoursponsorship.com/child/306/51071a1b6a59c8156ea663a386a05b422a01c28a