|George & Phil|
3 1/2 and 4 Years Old
George and Phil are two boys who live in my village. A few months ago, I took this picture. It was a weekday morning and their brothers and sisters, who were in charge of taking care of them, had wandered over to my house to see if I had anything fun to give them. Because the boys parents both work, their care fell onto their older siblings. Their older siblings weren't in school because they had to take care of these guys, and these guys weren't in school because there was no option for them to go to school. In a few years they would have started school totally unprepared. The grade 1 ciriculum in Zambia is designed as if children attened preschool, however in the village set up, this rarely occurs. Even if their is a preschool accessible, the cost is usually astronomical for a village family. Children go into grade 1 totally unprepared, behind in school before they even start. In my community 50 percent of the grade 1 students just stop going to school. They can't learn because they are behind and get embarrassed and discouraged. I'm working to help change this in my community, and I need your help!
These kids lack the foundation to succeed in school. Can you imagine building a house without a foundation? Preschool is the educational foundation that these children lack. If they are behind in grade 1, they are never able to catch up, thus are always behind in school. Some get away with it until it is time to take their grade 7 exams. If they can't pass their grade 7 exams, they cannot advance to grade 8. For many, grade 7 becomes the end of their education. Girls are often married off shortly after failing their grade 7's (or before) and sons are sent to the fields to work. These are the lucky ones. For those that drop out before grade 7, they end up becoming domestic or field workers. Any chance of success and upward mobility is squandered. All because they weren't prepared for school as a toddler.
We forget sometimes how important preschool is for a child's development, cognitively, but also emotionally, socially, and physically. True in preschool children get introductory education such as learning their abc's, counting to ten, writing their name, knowing colors, days of the week, the months of the year. But there are other valuable skills a child obtains in preschool. These are things like developing fine motor skills, by doing things like drawing, cutting and pasting, running, jumping, and holding pencils, or developing social skills and learning how to interact with other children. They also get some lessons on things like hand washing after using the toilet and before eating. Their small, developing brains get the stimulation they need in order to grow. Early childhood education is a new concept in Zambia, one that only a few appreciate.
The new govenment is trying to institute more "community" pre schools because they don't have the money to institute government run schools. I have written a grant whose funds will be used to rennovate a building donated by the local orphanage in my community. We will turn this building into a one room preschool class room. We will also use the money to buy supplies for the children, everything from tables and chairs to pens, paper, paint, and scissors. We currently have nuns who are trained in teaching preschool that are volunteering to teach, however outlying communities also want preshcools. They are receiving, and will continue to receive training, on how to manage and run the school. We will be able to hold a training for them on how to institute, run, teach, and mange a preschool in their areas. Parents are anxious for their children to attend preschool. We have opened already in Fiwila, my community. The orphanage has a small room we are using and some wonderful friends and family have sent a few supplies to get us by. These supplies are running out, as is my time in Zambia and I need your help to raise the additional $2,000 needed to complete the project. The kids that are in school love it. George and Phil above can now count to 10, recite their abc's and are even learning a few words in english! Their brother's and sister's are able to also attend school since if the boys are in school, they don't have to stay home to take care of them. There are suddenly 20 little lives who are being given a chance to succeed in school, and thus succeed as functional adults in their communities. These children are the future of Zambia, please help me give them the foundation they need.
If you have already donated, myself, and the kids, are eternally grateful to you! If you haven't donated and are interested in donating, it's really simple. Every little bit helps! All donations go 100% to my project and are tax deductible! Just go to this link: https://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.donatenow&keyword=611-078 which is my specific project. You can also go to peacecorps.gov/donate and in the "search for a project" section enter either my last name (Neft) or my project number 611-078. I have put a lot of work into organzing this program and the community is extreamly dedicated to the program. Please feel free to share my blog with anyone who is interested, and please always feel free to contact me with any questions!! Twatotela sana! https://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.donatenow&keyword=611-078