Brilliant but needy school children face bleak future in Lawra District

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GNA news feature by Bajin D. Pobia

 

Wa, Feb. 14, GNA – In many poor rural communities child care and education hang in the balance and many unfortunate children face a bleak future. Looking to a better future and hope can only come about when learning materials and school uniforms are provided them.

Some of the children’s needs go beyond school needs and they risk dropping out of school without support. Poverty is real in their lives as some parents are unable to provide decent meals for their children.

The real effects of poverty can be seen in orphans who are being catered for by old and weak grandparents. These children look weak and fragile with no happiness in them.

They are always starving and have to look for fruits from wild trees such as ebony, dawadawa, baobab, shea and other trees to supplement the little food that they are provided to keep body and soul together.

Looking for fruits in the bush goes with some consequences. Some of the children come into contact with reptiles like snakes and are bitten by them leading to their death. Others also fall and either die on the spot or maim their limbs in their attempt to pluck fruits from the wild trees.

Orphans who are under the care of some relatives also do not know rest. Whether the weather is hot or it is raining these unfortunate children are always engaged in providing services to their guardians just to please them to ensure their continuous stay with them.

At Kuoli Primary School in the Lawra District, Miss Betiera Belfaabom, a 14- year-old primary four pupil who lost both of her parents, says she does not know rest.

“Whoever wants to know what this world stands for; let your mother and father die and somebody else is to take care of you. Anything that goes wrong in the house is blamed on me. I am always living in fear and I do not know where my next meal will come from”, she said in tears.

Miss Belfaabom says it has been her dream to become a medical doctor in future but that she fears that dream would not be achieved because she is always forced to sit back at home and take care of a baby.  She also fears she might fall down one day from a tree and either die or fracture her legs or arms. A snake bite is possible and this may also end her life.

According to her class teacher, Miss Belfaabom looks confused in class; may be because during infancy both of her parents died and that there was no proper care for her. She is also careless and likes playing about. She lacks writing materials; footwear and school uniform and comes to school looking hungry and cannot concentrate in class.

Miss Belfaabom is not the only child perceived to be “mother of all sufferings”. There are other school children in the same school who have similar stories to tell. Some of the children in that school had either also lost both parents or have one of them suffering from mental illness. Care for these children is inadequate and they have to depend on the benevolence of organisations, public spirited individuals and other charities to make ends meet.

The story is not different at Yikpee Primary School, Kalsagr Primary School and Karbo Primary School where many children are also faced with similar challenges and need assistance to unearth their potentials.

The plights of these children have touched the Brookfield Faith Lutheran Church in the United States of America who initiated a support programme for the needy but brilliant and underprivileged school children in the district.

The Church through the Upper West Science Foundation (USF) a local non-governmental organisation provided some basic school materials such as uniform, pens and pencils, exercise books, sandals, school bags and mathematical sets among others to school children in the district to help cushion some of their burdens.

Mr. George Guri, Executive Director of USF on behalf of the Church, presented the items to five basic schools and 72 children in the district would benefit.

For the past five years the church has been in the forefront of providing assistance to some children who are orphans and do not have reliable guardians or foster parents to cater for their needs in school and at home.

Others are those whose parents have physical and mental disabilities that make them incapable of providing for the children as well as single parents, mostly widows who are faced with economic hardships are also supported.

Mr. Guri said there are plans to diversify the programme to cater for nutritional needs to keep the children in school. Some home-based needs such as clothing, especially for the girls would be provided to make their uniform last longer. The provision of bicycles to get the children from distant location to reach their school on time is also being proposed.

The programme would continue to support vulnerable children including orphans, children of disabled persons and widows who risk dropping out of school from lack of adequate parental support.

A teacher who spoke to the GNA said poverty was real in the district and as such many parents are unable to cater for the educational needs of their children. She said farm yields are poor due to the infertility of the land and the people are unable to produce sufficiently to feed their household hence the neglect of children.

 

Some of the school children who also spoke to the GNA said but for the support, many of them would have dropped out of school long ago and called on other non-governmental organisations, especially churches to come to their aid.

“Our needs are many and the challenges facing our parents are also many so we need support from benevolent organisation to help us pursuit our education”, the children said.

– GNA

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