I’ve been teaching every day at the Emmanuel Lights Academy since I came back from Uganda. At first, I was a bit nervous because I was unsure of how the kids would react to me. I was a substitute teacher back home for two years, and we all know how great it was to have a substitute fill in for the day. So I guess I might have been expecting that kind of reaction from the kids, you know… the one where you act like class is about to be a field day. When I walked into the classroom at Emmanuel Lights, it was very different than anything I’ve experienced. The kids are so obedient it’s unbelievable. I’m not sure if it has to do with the fact that they still do the caning trick over here. That’s something they used to do when my dad was still in grade school! If you’re not sure what caning is, it’s when a kid is supposed to get down on his knees and get hit by a stick right on the butt. It’s a bit old school if you ask me, but that’s the culture here and it’s deeply embedded as a form of punishment. Luckily, I haven’t seen any kids cry about it afterwards.
Out of the 18 boys at the Keumbu Home, 16 of them were former street boys. When the first street boy, Fred, began attending school at Emmanuel Lights Academy, all of the students were terrified of him. They were scared that a street boy who was previously addicted to drugs and hustled in order to survive would bully them. There was only one student in the whole school that didn’t mind Fred, and insisted that they play soccer together, have lunch together, and sit together. That left a huge impression on Brian and Fred, so one of the puppies from Chui’s litter will be given to the boy who befriended Fred. Chui is one of our dogs at the home. She gave birth to three adorable puppies. We also have Socks, who is such a charmer. He was only $10 dollars to buy… but you can’t put a price on something as priceless as puppy love. I tried to convince the kids that a dog can be your best friend, but they weren't too convinced.
Some people believe that wisdom comes with age. It’s actually the exact opposite. Age is nothing but a number. Wisdom comes from past experience, so long as you have learned from it. Some of these kids here at the home have been through the worst possible experiences you could imagine. Take little Amos for example, he is only 6 years old and has lived on the streets, addicted to huffing glue. This was all after a man on the street threw him into a fire, for no good reason. He’s got the scars to prove it too. I don’t understand how anyone could do such a thing, nor do I want to. He is ALWAYS smiling. Though it’s hard to communicate with him since he hasn’t learned English yet, we bond pretty well with no need to exchange words, just smiles and high-fives. Amos has not learned English yet because he is still in the pre-school classes. It’s obvious that he is the oldest in his class, but he doesn’t seem to mind and neither do his classmates. Aside from that, he is a great example and role model for all of the kids, whether they are younger or older than him. At only 6 years old, he is so responsible and mature.
Now that I've told you about the wise, let me tell you about the fun and games. During recesses at school, the young girls flock to me to play with my hair. It’s too cute. If I don’t crouch down to their level, they’ll insist on jumping up and down to try to cop a feel. Most of the girls at school have shaved heads so my curly, long, hair amazes them. While that’s going on, the rest of the kids are throwing balls made out of plastic bags and sand, or lining up and running around pretending to be choo-choo trains. It’s really inspiring to see how creative the kids can get with the little resources that they have. They utilize plastic bags and rubber bands to make soccer balls, or smaller plastic bags filled with sand to make the equivalent of a baseball or hacky-sack.