You can imagine the shock on 13-year old Everlyne's face when five of us rolled up in our muddy Land Rover and knocked on the door to her house, at 2 pm on a Wednesday afternoon. Everlyn's house is made of sheets of iron, mud and old cardboard milk cartoons. It has no electricity or running water. She is a gracious host, sitting on the arm of the threadbare sofa, searching our faces for the reason we came, equal parts thrilled and terrified.
When all the FK community kids get together, it can be hard to remember names and faces. "Do you know who I am? I work with Flying Kites." I tell her. "I know," she says in a whisper, dipping her head to hide a wide smile. "We came to see you and to speak to your mom" I explain, "because we saw that you applied to repeat 8th grade, but you were one of our top students. It seems you should be joining 9th grade, not repeating 8th?"
"It's because we don't have money for school fees so I can't go to high school" Everlyne explained.
We expected this response but there's something about the way Everlyne delivers it that is troubling. Typically, students, when faced with 5 members of a non-profit organization in their living room would be stating their case. I'm always blown away by students who lament the importance of education in their lives or describe their incredible need with great passion. But, Everlyne, has given up. I'm suddenly struck by what a rare sight that is - in this line of work. I've never been in this situation before. The room is silent.
There seems to be only one thing that is sadder then seeing a child plead and plead for an opportunity to go to school, and that is meeting a girl who achieved one of the highest scores in her class and have her tell you, in the most matter-of-fact way, that she won't be going on to high school. No follow up. No "if only's". No appeal for help. No despair. Just acceptance.
Her acceptance of this unacceptable circumstance should outrage us.
Can you help us raise 1,200 USD in the next four days, so we can roll up to Everlyn's house this weekend, knock on her door, and invite her to believe in a more fair, kinder, better world? Can we see if under that weary expression is a teenager?
School is already in session. We would need to move relatively quickly.
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