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.