Yesterday was final exams results day at the Koseli School. Yesterday, each child found out if they were promoted or needed to redo the year. I had no idea this was happening, and, had I known, I would not have had any context for the experience of it. It was brutal.
Renu has a very tough job. She is actually trying to give these kids the tools they need for a better life. Some of these kids come from very bad backgrounds and all of them come from a culture of very low expectations. No one really expects much of anything from them. No one, that is, except Renu and the staff at Koseli. And these expectations are critical to their success. If they learn to rise up and continue on, despite the repeated failures, they can change their lives.
Most of the class failed their final exams. Renu explained that much of the schooling they had prior to coming to Koseli was really inadequate and did not set a foundation to succeed. She also confided in me that, she does not think it is a bad thing for them to fail. If they fail, that is one more year she has with them. One more year to imbue them with skills and knowledge they need to rise above the challenges that have been dealt to them.
But the air of disappointment permeated the school. The girls cried and cried. Parents came to the school (well, some of them) to hear the results and, coming from a background of no education at all, could not fathom how the kids had worked so hard and not succeeded. They were angry.
Renu is worried that some of the children will not return. She is worried that the disappointment will be so crushing that they will just return to the life they have always known. As she sat on the floor in one of the classrooms and talked with me, I could see the pain all over her face. It is a pain she deals with every single day of her life and one she has committed to enduring for the rest of it. The pain of losing some of these kids she loves so much.
When she verbalized all this to me, I could literally feel the pain in my chest. It literally felt like I had been hit. Something in me had imagined that, once in this place, a child would never choose to go anywhere else. And for some children, this is true. But the reality is present every single day, as some of the kids fail to come to school for days at a time and gamble on the streets instead. And some of the kids cannot take the crushing failure and never return.
In that unguarded moment, alone in a small classroom, Renu gained my commitment forever. Koseli is my school too. These are my kids. She communicated volumes in her hushed tones, slumped shoulders and distracted air. This is not a charity for Renu, this is a monumental quest.
And I’m in as a sidekick…for the long haul.
P.S. I have pictures to post here…but I am on a new computer and have no idea how to reduce the size of my pics so that they will upload. 😦 will work on that tonight.