This blogpost has been a couple of days in the making... thinking can be hard work.
The short version is; I think I have found myself a project.
The long version is, well... longer.
Two days ago, the outgoing Team Site Leader asked me if I would join him for a private patrol with a couple of the other UNMOs. Heading out of town, we made our way through the suburbs (read: barely built up areas) to a private school. Or at least, to the place where 210 kids, ranging from 3-4 up to 10ish received a free education that the local government can't provide. Like most schools down here there is a lack of everything except the will to try.
The school, being a private school, receives no support from the local government. Their parent organization - Youth with a Mission - provides the basic needs, but nothing more (they have more than 1100 projects going so money is tight). Most of the teachers work for bed and board, and only two of seven teachers have any education in being teachers. Most of the classrooms are filled to the brim and only about half has furniture - in the rest the kids have to sit on the floor. And while they over the last year have gotten enough donations to build a second building, they haven't gotten enough to put a roof on it nor installing doors and windows in it. And what really got to me; they only have enough pens for one third of their pupils...
My outgoing TSL though the school worthy of his support. I feel the same way - these people are tryig to give the local kids what they really, truly needs (an education and one square meal a day), and I think initiatives like it should be supported. And while I can't save the world, or even Sudan, at least I can make a difference to these kids. On my shopping list for when I visit Norway is the stuff I need to fix their swing set (minor things really - some chain and some eye-bolts) and perhaps a few more things like pens. To me, the cost of a couple of hundred ball point pens is minimal, but to these kids? Well, what is the value of not having to wait for your classmate to finish his writing so you can write your things?
But I think the most valuable contribution me and my fellow UNMOs can do right away is to just stop by now and then. Show that kids that there are people outside of Sudan, and that they ain't scary. Play some soccer, or shoot a few baskets. Goof around. Put a band aid on that scabbed knee - soccer can be dangerous like that. Help teach a class English, or basic math. Put some weight on a couple of the NGOs in the area and secure some seeds for the school vegetable patch.
I'm also going to look into other ideas I have... would be nice if I could do a bit more, something that would outlast my stay here in Yei. For starters; those of you who are reading this on the web are no doubt aware that I have ads enabled on my blog. So far they have netted me a little over 2 dollars... but from here on until I leave Yei (probably around early September next year) I will donate every last cent I get from the ads to the school. And one better - I'll match the funds raised with the same amount, up to a reasonable level off course.