Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Meet George

(Left to right: Joseph, George and Alfred)

“Little George,” (as he is known to me) is a charmer. This has made his life as a street boy very comfortable. I first started seeing him around on the streets about a month into my first visit to Kenya. He was kicked out of school because his shoes had holes. In the street he always insisted that he wanted to go back to school but always had a huge smile on his face and was obviously having too much fun. He spent a few minutes on the street asking for money and once he had enough for the day he was off to play pool, or playstation, or watch a movie. George is so charismatic that people ENJOY it when he asks them for money. It reminds me of the Tom Brady Saturday Night live Sexual harassment video…which if you haven’t seen check it

After a couple weeks George was able to get some shoes and go back to school. Two weeks later he was out again saying that his uniform was too ratty and he had been kicked out. Despite the fact that George probably made more money begging in a day than the average manual laborer he never went back to school. He was always just playing pool. We had many serious talks about the importance of school and he seemed like he understood. During tutoring sessions he always showed up, and paid lots of attention. I knew however that he needed to be sent to school out of town, otherwise the pull from the streets would be too much for him and he would likely run away.

Ill Polei Primary (the same school that Alfred and Joseph go to) agreed to let me bring kids from town to their rural school and in exchange we agreed that I would create scholarships for three of their poorest student at the school to become boarding students. Rural students are one of the most important demographics to target when it comes to education. Uneducated rural children in the best of circumstances stay at home and do what their families have done for generations. In the worst of cases (such as the drought that we are experiencing now) they are forced to venture into cities in search of employment or food. Their lack of education and street smarts make them easy targets for the people in the city and they often become the most vulnerable of street kids. Educated rural students often return to their villages and use their knowledge to improve the circumstances for their whole community. This is why rural education is so important to me, and why this situation was more than just a compromise for me, it was a win-win.

A British woman from town named Marisa heard that I was sending George to school and offered to help find some of the things he needed. She recruited her friends and in a week we had donations for almost everything he needed to go to school!

(Thank you to Marisa and Friends, pictured here with George)

George has also found his own sponsors! Some students from an American University met George and decided to sponsor him. George wasn’t quite ready to go to school at that time, and the students left soon after, but we have stayed in touch and they are looking forward to sponsoring him!

(George at Il Polei school showing off his skills as an acrobat)

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