This morning, I decided to try to catch the school bus very early because I wanted to get to campus in time to see our new breakfast program in action.
I’m staying at our girls dorm — a big farmhouse a few miles from our campus — so just after dawn, I went out into around the yard, listening to the cows and sheep, suddenly realizing I wasn’t actually sure what time the bus left. I climbed into the front seat of our big Land Cruiser (our bus is very cool) and made myself comfortable. I spent the next twenty minutes alone typing on my phone, scrolling, and calling back to the house for the girls to hurray up. Tired of waiting, I opened the car door to get out and as I turned to climb out I almost jumped out of my own skin. All the way in the back of the land cruiser, was a child. A little girl, sitting right in the middle of the back row, staring back at me. She had on a purple sweater and a torn gray skirt. She was sitting straight up, her hands folded in her lap, and a look in her eyes that was the opposite of afraid. Just as I was about to open my mouth, all of our girls began piling into the car, seeming to not notice anything strange about her already being in it.
Ah, she must be a neighbor that we give a ride to, I thought. But she rode with us *all the way* to school. Maybe she’s a new student and she doesn’t yet have the uniform, I figured, reassured by how familiar everyone seemed by her presence.
At school, it was amazing to see all the kids eating porridge, eggs and bananas. Our students live in such extreme poverty- many of them weren’t eating breakfast, and some weren’t even eating dinner.
Excited to see this impact, I went bounding towards our Head of School’s office. She came out to meet me halfway.
“You are not going to believe this story” she began. Nobody tells a good story like she can, so I settled in for some funny tale of what it means to build a school out of thin air.
She began, “On Monday, we started doing our admissions. I had a list of 20 students to interview, all of them arrived with their parents. At the end of the day, Teacher Paul came up to me and said, “the student you placed in our class today was really really bright.”
She looked at me and raised her eyebrows, and I finished her sentence for her “you didn’t place a student in his class”
“Exactly. So the next day, same thing, this little girl comes and she sits in his class. So I call her into my office and explain we have an admissions process. I told her to come back with a parent or guardian tomorrow so we can begin it.”
The next day, she’s back in his class. He sends her back to my office and she tells me “I couldn’t find an adult to come with me”
She pointed out a little girl in a purple sweater.
I assumed our kids knew who she was. Our kids assumed because we were in the car together, I had made the arrangements. Our teachers assumed because she appeared in class, the Head Teacher has placed her there.
And here is this little little girl in a bright purple sweater who can’t find an adult. Crazy town.