When I visited the Otieno family in their corrugated iron home-cum-shop one night, I was astonished to find the children doing their homework in the dim glow of tiny paraffin lamps. I glanced over their shoulders to read the printed words, but just saw a blur. I wondered how their young eyes could read in such darkness. I wondered where the motivation came from to persevere with their studies despite incredible obstacles.
Boaz, the oldest son, tall beyond his 13 years, had to study in these conditions throughout his primary school days, yet managed to earn high marks, making him eligible to go to a good secondary school.
He did especially well in his final year at Usare Primary School in Mbita town, improving his marks from 255 to 346 out of 500. “How did you do so well?” I inquired. He credited his success to Elizabeth Akello, the AMURT care counselor assigned to him since the beginning of 2010. “Elizabeth gave me text books and a school uniform,” he said, “and advised me to interact with my teachers as much as possible.”
Boaz desperately wanted to go to secondary school, but knew that profits from his mother’s tiny shop were barely enough to feed the family. I asked him what motivates him to continue with his education. “I want to get a good job so that I can support my mother and siblings,” he replied.
Moved by his sincerity and solidarity with his family, I called one of our donors to inquire if she knew someone who could sponsor Boaz’s education. Within a few hours the response came in the affirmative, so I told Boaz’s mother. Tears of joy flowed down her cheeks with this sudden realization that the impossible was now possible.
After his final primary school exam Boaz brought a photocopy of his mark sheet to the AMURT office in celebration. Given his intelligence and his ambition, we look forward to more celebratory visits; we look forward to seeing a positive story unfold of a boy who struggles to achieve something noble for himself and his family despite tremendous challenges.