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It’s Raining Desks (on getting back to work)

January 4, 2012

More desks than students greeted me on campus. Usually it's quite the opposite.

We went back to school today.  I had a bad feeling as I walked to campus, though.  Central High students usually fill the streets as they converge on campus, but I saw no one in their maroon or green until three kids on a motorbike passed me just minutes from school.  “Nice day for a walk,” I thought as I watched a few kids come out of the gate and walk back toward town.  Approaching the gate I just started laughing.  The entire courtyard was full of desks, haphazardly thrown from the classrooms.  About a dozen students milled around the edges.  Oh, this was going to be good.

Three of my 12th graders climbed the podium and Prince started ringing the bell.  “Come outside for devotion,” Junior Dahn shouted in vain.  A handful of kids came out and stood in the sun while Festus preached for a few minutes.  Mr. Demy approached, apologized that there were so few teachers (really just him and me), and told the students they could go if they didn’t have a teacher, but that they should still come tomorrow.  I went to my 11th grade class and invited them to sit in my 12th grade class until I could come to theirs.  Newton did, bless his heart.

Only about a quarter of the students were in attendance but I forged ahead anyway.  They were restless and rusty.  I should have known better.  It’s just that we’ve lost so much time already!  Sometimes I forget you have to take time around here.  But we’ll get there.  Bit by bit I’ll get through to them.

I left school early since I only had one 11th grade class to teach and ran into Pelle by the UN Camp.  We talked small then I trudged to the market.  I had nothing to do and nowhere to be.  I mistakenly wore some bad walking slippers and my feet were killing me.  A few Liberians even passed me.  Yep.  That slow.  I did chores from a few hours, hauling water and scrubbing dishes, until it was time to start cooking.  I prayed Romeo wouldn’t come tonight.  He didn’t, but someone else did.

“Sis RB?” I heard the familiar 12th grade voice call from the road.  He rushed up to the porch.  We hadn’t had a chance to talk since our whispered conversation in the courtyard at school.  Two teachers are giving him a hard time and demanding money.  K and I had a tearful conversation trying to figure out what to do.

Nothing.  It seemed there was nothing to be done. 

But I called the office and they suggested I tutor him in those subjects.  I told Junior that and tears started building behind his eyes.  I scooted over and patted the bench, “Sit down, Junior.”  He did.  “I’m feeling so discouraged, Sis RB,” he shook his head.  “I’m thinking about dropping.”  I was shocked.  “Out of SCHOOL?”  He looked down, “Surely.  The man says he won’t let me go for WAEC so I’ll leave and enroll somewhere else next year.” 

I struggled to stay professional.  I wanted to grab his hand, march to campus, and demand this wrong be righted.  I wanted to give him money so he wouldn’t have to spend all his soap money on food and grades.  He couldn’t even afford to go home for Christmas because his family is so far away.  I took a deep breath instead and delivered a motivational speech I only half believed.

“I will fight for you, Junior,” I said.  “I won’t let them demote you, but you must fight too.  You must keep working hard for the strength of your own mind.  They win if you drop, Junior.  Do not let them defeat you.  Every small step moves you forward.  Everything you learn and put in your mind is yours, even if it never appears on an exam.  You’re doing everything right, Junior.  Please believe me your hard work and motivation will carry you far.”  I couldn’t tell in the twilight now much he bought in, but he smiled and promised to bring me some soap.

“I’ll pay you for it!”  He just laughed, “No, you won’t!

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 2, 2012 1:44 pm

    So greatly enjoy the posts and the pictures. Hope all continues to go well for you! ❤

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