Saturday, August 18, 2007

What Do You Want More Than Anything :: "Education"

Lucus (one of the men at Mobility Care in Arusha) told me about a 12-year old boy named Emmanual who had to crawl around on his hands for 10 years of his life because his legs are stiff and bowed (they aren't sure why because he has never been able to get checked out). Needless to say, he can't afford crutches or a wheelchair, nevermind an education. Mobility Care found a sponsor for Emmanual when he was 10 to get a wheelchair, telling his mother that she had to send him to school in return for the wheelchair. He went for a while, but the other students would throw things at him and he would be left behind when they went to have fun or do things… and then they ran out of money and he couldn't go to school anymore.

Lucus was asking Tish and me if we could find a sponsor for Emmanual, and we explained that we would try, but that a system needed to be in place because there were surely more kids like Emmanual and we couldn’t find sponsors for them all if there was no stable program set up. So we discussed ideas for setting that up (if anyone is interested in pursuing this program/club/ngo please let me know), but I wanted to see Emmanual and talk to him in person so that I could come back with a more detailed story, and be able to really understand his situation.

Mobility Care builds wheelchairs whenever there is a sponsor, but sponsors had been scarce so there was not much work to do so we decided to go right then. We stopped by Mr. Daniel (the boss)’s house and Lucus' house. At Lucus’ house, we met his wife and the kids she babysits (to the right is a picture of a few of them and Tish... with a MIT shirt :) ).. his house was quite nice… spacious, clean, and the scenery around it is just gorgeous, and all natural. Mr. Daniel’s house was 2 small rooms… I wondered why his house was so much smaller and cramped than Lucus’ when he was the boss, and I found out later that he supports all his siblings on top of his family… including paying for his younger brother to go to teacher’s college…. His younger brother really wanted to be a doctor, he loves science, and apparently when he met with Tish one time, all he wanted to talk about was physics and biology because he had finally found someone else that knew as much (and more) than he did. Sadly he couldn’t afford to go to medical school, but teacher’s college is cheaper, so Mr. Daniel is paying for him to go there, and he’s going to work as a science teacher and save up to be a doctor. Apparently loans in Tanzania are very bad to get because they’ll come and take away your house and the interest is at ridiculous rates.

So after about an hour walk on a very bumpy, dusty road (of course not paved), we got to Emmanual’s house. If you can call it a house. The weather is nice and the natural scenery is so beautiful that even the small houses looked gorgeous and like they were part of some paradise landscape… but this one… there was one main house and then a small building next to it. The small building had 3 small rooms. One of those rooms was emmanual’s home. To the right there is a picture of two of his siblings standing at the door of their home.

Emmanual, his mother, his very drunk and abusive grandmother (she even hit me!), his aunt, and his 3 siblings all lived in this cramped space. I don't even know if they could all lie down. Their father is dead and their mother works breaking stones into little pieces to be used for construction which pays little to nothing. They barely have enough to eat, so school is a rare luxury. I asked Emmanual what he wanted more than anything, and he said and education. Not to be able to walk normally, not to be rich, not to have a home where he could actually have room to lie down comfortably… but to have an education. Thinking of all the kids in the states that complaing about having to go to school and drop out of school…. How unfair that the millions of children that want an education more than anything aren’t able to get it. How unfair that people can’t appreciate their education when they are offered it freely. He was very shy but very handsome, and he’s become pretty adept with the crutches (well not crutched, mobility devices that are basically two sticks with arm holes that he uses to support himself… the name of them is skipping my mind) that he got along with the wheelchair which he saves for special occasions (the terrain is so rough that the wheelchair, though much stronger than the ones in the US, would still wear out pretty quickly) and for when gets to go to school… but the crutches don’t even have padding on the bottom… (to the right is a picture of Emmanual with his supports in front of the building where his home is)


Scout said...

I help support a little girl in Arusha, Tanzania. I would love to talk to someone that has been there.

csk said...

Hi Scout, I'm not sure how to get in touch with you, but if you email me at, I'd love to talk to you more. Thanks for reading!