“Books and tuition” – this is the response that changed our lives.
What was the question? “What do you need the most?”
That was the question we posed to the beautiful, bright, eager and resilient orphans in the Zambian village where we had just completed our Habitat for Humanity build. Even at this young age, in one of the remotest parts of the world, in a poorest-of-the-poor community, and with all that life had thrown at them already, these children realized that education was the key to their futures – the only source of hope, the only real opportunity, the only truly sustainable “possession” – and they wanted it more than shoes or cell phones or iPods or anything else the “rich Americans” could give them.
The statistics are overwhelming:
- In most developing countries, school is not free. Families must pay for tuition, books, uniforms, lunches, and teachers’ salaries.
- More than 100 million children have no access to education, most often because of racism, violence, slavery, the sex trade or because they cannot pay for uniforms, school supplies and tuition.
- More than 860 million adults in the developing world cannot read or write.
- 1 out of every 2 children is in poverty, and about 30,000 children die every day because of poverty.
We could list hundreds more similar statistics that show the plight of children throughout the world who do not have a realistic opportunity for any type of quality education and how this lack of education traps them in the vicious cycle of poverty and its associated obstacles, risks, and perils. So, what could we possibly do to even make a dent in this? How can we break this vicious cycle?
Education! Books and tuition! The positive facts are equally impressive:
- Education reduces teen pregnancy, infant mortality, and maternal death rates.
- Education reduces the incidence of malaria, HIV and many other infectious disease.
- Education reduces crime and unemployment.
- Education reduces poverty – for example, investment in girls education can raise the gross domestic product (GDP) of an entire country.
Importantly, less than 1 percent of what the world spends on weapons each year could put every child on the planet in school. So, it is possible. We can make a dent in the great wall of poverty. We can break the vicious cycle of destruction. We can do this – one student at a time, one school at a time, one community at a time.
We have seen it happen – tuition for nursing school for Reachana in Cambodia, a year of high school in the U.S. for Phomotso to qualify for university in South Africa, a proper wheel chair and a ramp into the library in Malawi for Sam.
Books and tuition, teacher’s salaries, school lunches, uniforms, desks, blackboards, libraries, and schools – these simple things can change the world. Those orphans in Zambia knew it, and now you know it. So, what will you do about it?
Will you politely and empathetically agree and move on? Will you let someone else deal with this? Will you just focus in on your own world and your own problems? Or will you respond to the millions of kids who need “books and tuition” and do your part to help make a dent and break the cycle? If you value your own education, then help a child who has no other hope for the ultimate opportunity – the opportunity of education. There are hundreds of organizations, locally, nationally, and internationally, that you can support, donate to and get involved in to reach these deserving kids. See how much you can do to address this massive, global problem – we dare you!