Monday, July 17, 2006

Finding God In Smaller Places

Posted by codemorse


The janitors at a rural secondary school in the eastern South African town of Jeppe's Reef are letting their curiosity get the best of them. Lured by the sounds of teenagers energetically repeating metric conversions, the broom-wielding older ladies peek into two classrooms that are supposed to be empty.

It's the winter school holidays on this side of the equator. While most school kids in this desperately impoverished area are out playing, dozens of teenagers choose to sit in brick classrooms. They're happy to take part in an after-hours "Accessible Schools" program, learning fractions, measuring distances -- and taking in life lessons.

"I like these classes because they are about more than just math. I'm learning life skills, about the dangers of having sex when you're too young. I'm learning a lot in these classes that I'm not getting in regular school," says Sindi Tabela, a 16-year-old orphan.

Sindi is the kind of child that the Accessible Schools program wants to help the most. Her mother died of an undisclosed illness in February. Now the head of the house, Sindi juggles raising her 10-year-old and 6-year-old sisters, going to school, finding food and fighting off unwanted advances from men who know the girls are alone....

The $9 million Accessible Schools program is the result of a partnership between the U.S. Department of Labor, South African authorities, the American Institutes of Research, RECLISA and local NGO Thembalethu Home Based Care.

It's probably hokey to say this, but it's in programs like Accessible Schools that I tend to see God's face most clearly. Maybe you don't believe in God. That's cool. Call it Grace, if you will.


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