Lessons for Life Newsletter January 2009

What attending school means to the children

Joseph's Story

Joseph is in P6 and next year will be entering P7 to take his leavers exams. He is 14 years old. His class teacher writes on his report how Joseph is obedient, hardworking and honest. His parents died 2 years ago and the head teacher was concerned about where he was living and what he was eating. During lunch break, she gave Joseph an extra bowl so he could have one helping in school and take the other bowl home for a meal in the evening. He attends school every day with a clean uniform and enjoys participating in many of the school activities.

As the school broke up for Christmas holidays, the head teacher was concerned about how he would survive over the holidays. She sought out Joseph in the slums. He was living in a lean-to shed with a sick old lady. This lady was not a relation but said she knew his parents and had taken him in when they died. However her health has deteriorated and now Joseph looks after her. She sleeps on a mattress and he sleeps on the floor of this one roomed shack. Neither have any income to buy food or basics, so he does menial jobs after school, walking the streets asking for work slashing grass or carrying packs.

For Joseph term time is the best time. He has a place where he can learn, play and feel secure as well as get a decent meal.

Emmanuel and Tony

Emmanuel is 10 years old and was in P1 going into P2 next year. Usually this is a class of 6 year olds. 

Tony is going into P3 next term and is 12 years old. 

Both boys are street children. They are orphans and have no guardians or home. Lessons for Life is giving them the opportunity to receive an education and a hot meal once a day during term time.

They arrive at school early each day and enter the boy’s toilets. There they wash and change into their school uniform from their day clothes. They attend lessons and engage in school activities. At the end of the school day they wash their school uniform, hang it to dry in the school, change back into their day clothes and then return to the streets to beg for money and sleep anywhere they feel safe.

Railway School is a sanctuary for them. The sense of family, the security and safety it offers makes coming to school a joy.

Not many children in the UK would say they preferred school term to the holidays but for many of these children school is their lifeline.

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