It is 10.20am on a wet and warm Friday morning and I am in my home in Tanzania. It’s not much by your standards but a lot by mine in the context of life here. I have my bedroom cum living space with a toilet / shower room en suite. My shower is a cold jet and douses the entire bathroom, ha easy cleaning! I have luxury, I receive a bucket of piping hot water every morning and evening and the concept of a bucket bath is now something I am familiar with and secretly crave.
I digress as ever.
It is 10.20am and I was cleaning my bathroom, having the urge to give my entire domain a spring clean and thorough freshen up! There I am with bucket, cloth and Vim. Ha Vim, the old-fashioned abrasive powder form, do you still get that in the UK?
So many cleaning products here cause a sharp, pungent and powerful flashback to my mum. Omo is my washing powder of preference despite being more expensive than the local brand. Why, is it better? No but my Mum used it and an eight or nine-year old me saved the tokens on the packet tops as a child and sent them off to receive a free gift.
It was the most hideous red and white plastic snow ball type thingy to adorn the Christmas tree. I loved that decoration because I saved for it and got it for free! Aaaahhh Omo!
Ok let me try once more to explain!
It was 10… no, no you get that bit.
I have abandoned my cleaning and left the Vim sulking on the floor only half used for the day. Like most of us the completion of mundane tasks such as cleaning frees the thoughts process sector of our brain. The guy in charge up there has to rouse himself out of his comfy armchair, put down the sports pages in his newspaper and get the Thought Process Engine cranked up.
“She’ll never get through it if all she has think about is the actual cleaning.” Fred says, oh that’s the Thought Process Supervisor or Janitor or whatever title he has. “Here we go again cranking up the engine, mind you she keeps it well stoked, lives a, well let’s say, diverse life.” Hah, diverse yeah I like it. Fred is now taking a breather as his own thoughts process engine is well stoked.
I think that must be when it happened, while Fred took a breather, took his eye off the ball, or his shovel out’a yon furnace or whatever.
Clang clang clang, Klaxons blaring, alarms singing in tone-deaf harmony.
Frankie, he set the thoughts in motion as I scrubbed the toilet bowl. Frankie, age indeterminate, probably 15 maybe 16, educated to Form IV with a good pass in his O levels and working at the house where I have my lodgings as a general houseboy, gardener, bringer of hot bucket baths and responding to Mama and my every whim and fancy. Where else would a good student go after O levels?
Continued education? I hear you cry.
Don’t be crass. This is East Africa remember, with its counterproductive education system where a kid like Frankie is among the blessed. He got to go to Secondary School a lot don’t.
Frankie wants to be a pharmacist and his English surprises and impresses me , often it makes me laugh.
Frankie has the widest, truest and most honest smile you can ever imagine. I, for one, could never say no to this young man. He is a darlin’, a cutie, a diamond, he’s a great kid. But the problem with Frankie is that he is just like every darned kid I have met here. Ok they don’t all have that smile but they d***** well all have that flat acceptance of their life but still keep a dream alive in the clouds of their mind. A d***** pharmacist for whoever’s sake.
That is the issue.
Needing a chance, an opportunity, support.
That is the issue.
Frankie has now morphed into my generic name for all the kids excluded from the government education system due to poverty, elitist selection processes, poverty, family pressures, poverty, lack of money, poverty…
So there I was knee-deep in Vim and Frankie’s issue pops into my mind, along with the facts and figures presented recently in a video article. It is a little dry but if you persevere the facts are worth it. I am researching an update to the stats provided and it will gain space in these hallowed pages one day.
Millions of $ going into the system but just $1 in every $5 reaching the schools, teachers who only actual teach an average of 2 hr 4 m out of a 6 hour working day, failure at exams …
This is where the overload occurred and the dark side of my mind took over and sent the Frustration Fireball to rise from its inferno and hit me in the gut.
It’s about helping Frankie, it’s not about individually helping Frankie, it should be but there are so many Frankies.
IT IS ABOUT WORKING FOR CHANGE.
EVERY FRANKIE DESERVES THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION. EVERY CHILD, WHETHER AN “A PLUS” STUDENT OR “D” GRADE STUDENT, CHRISTIAN, CATHOLIC, MUSLIM OR TRIBAL BELIEFS, ABLE BODIES OR DISABLED, WITH AND WITHOUT LEARNING DIFFICULTIES, GIRL OR BOY, EVERY CHILD DESERVES THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION. More on this issue
Phew, that quelled the Frustration Fireball. Hot and spicy lemon grass chai and a session with my sword (pen) doused his spirits but now the Melancholy Mojo has taken his place.
Hey ho, back to the Vim.
“Hey Fred, wake up and give a girl a hand will ya.”