back to school can bring me to tears

Twenty new first graders from the Batwa village in Matara begin school today, Monday. They prepared for school as if it were normal, as if expected. This is a new normal.

Three years ago these kids came to Matara with their families. They were two years old. The story they were living did not include education or hope for a bright future. The story they were born into made it almost impossible for Batwa to go to school and an almost unattainable dream to graduate. In that story, no parent planned for a graduation party.

The old story set the kids on an expected trajectory of fetching water, gathering firewood, watching younger siblings as they aged. The arc included lack of daily food, no healthcare when they got sick, no I.D. cards (so no voting, no voice) and constant ridicule by others. The old story told time and time again said things would never change for them – ever.

Their parents decided to write a new story, a better story. They came to a new land, worked hard building homes and planting crops and learning the agriculture cycles. They loved neighbors who threatened them giving them food, inviting them to build a road together and creating jobs for them. Now they work and worship together with these neighbors every week. And now their children all attend the local school bringing home the highest grades along with huge smiles.

So these twenty little ones who toddled onto Matara’s green mountain now pack for their first day of school as if it was the most natural, normal thing to do. It is all they have ever known – all they remember, seeing mama walk their siblings across the road to school and washing their uniforms every week and celebrating their high marks. They are just next…

And I am so deeply glad that *this* is their story. Today I feel the enormity of it – that ‘going back to school’ is revolutionary. In Matara it shows stories can change. God wants to write new stories with us. He writes stories chock full of justice, love, newness and hope.

And those new stories allow us to walk into new futures – like going with your mama across the road for the first day of school as if it was the most normal thing in the world. So I am going to take a moment and hold these tears…honor the holy thing happening as these lovely little ones begin school today. They think it is normal – but I know it is much more!

For another snapshot into this story, read September Surprise over at Communities of Hope.


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2 thoughts on “back to school can bring me to tears”

  1. Idelette
     ·  Reply

    My friend, this is SUCH good news. When what is “normal” in other parts of the world gets stitched into the ordinary rhythms of Matara. On Saturday, I sat with my kids on the red couch and we looked at a literacy graphic. They really got it when they saw the numbers. Also when they saw just how many people live on $1.25/day. They got the privilege of their education a little better.

    I am so so thankful that these children will be part of the literate generation.

  2. Sarah Bessey
     ·  Reply

    Tears here, too. The Lord has done great things.

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All content on this site is copyrighted by Kelley Nikondeha. Please do not copy work without permission. You are welcome to quote or reference my blog in your article, but please make sure you link back to the original post. Please do not post an article in full without permission, because that is a violation of intellectual property. (My African friends have a different sense of this, but being American, I can tell you it does matter to me!)

All writing on this site represents my own journey, my own wrestling, my own epiphanies. While I work with Communities of Hope, ideas shared here do not necessarily represent this organization.