Is 50% an F?

“God does not ask us to be successful, he only asks us to be faithful.” -Mother Teresa

This was one of my favorite Mother Teresa quotes. But I didn’t really experience it’s meaning until now. And it’s still hard for me to actually believe. I feel like a failure. I am a teacher, and I am used to grading papers/tests/etc. that are 50% or below and well deserving of an F, but when it comes to me, my pride cannot handle receiving an F. I guess that’s why this quote has been on my mind like a magnet lately. God is not demanding that I am successful, though my flesh wants to be; he just asks that I remain faithful to him and his call.

We started out with getting six kids in school. Tenele was the first to drop, and you got that story the last blog. Shortly after her, Bongiwe follwed…(her story is in the next blog.)

Then the most recent and most frustrating and depressing is Khanyisile. Khanyisile came to my house several times a week after school to show me her work and to get my help. Khanyisile had been out of school for a handful of years, and was placed in grade four. She is very smart and can speak and understand English very well; in fact, she understood it so well that when we read books together, she knew how to make is seem like she could read. It wasn’t until a couple days into doing some one on one tutoring that I realized Khanyisile could not read.

I was reading a Dr. Seuss book and Khanyi was reading along with me until she got on e of the words wrong. I pointed to the word again and asked her to repeat it. She said a completely different word, but one that was still on the page. “No, this one,” I pointed to it again. And she said a different word. “Okay, what sound does this letter make?” I tried breaking the word apart. She had no idea. “Okay, what letter is this?” I pointed to a B. She didn’t say a word.

Khanyi could not read. She did not even know the alphabet! And I had no idea until now. So the next few sessions we hammered out the first three letters, A, B, C. I taught her to sing the alphabet song. She drew the letters herself, we made flashcards, I had her create the shapes of the letters with pencils…I was working eagerly to get her to learn the alphabet, but I had no idea it would be that difficult!

Still, when she succeeded recognizing a letter, we celebrated together. I gave her my favorite book, “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” to help with the alphabet. I was actually really looking forward to taking on the challenge with her. But last week Khanyi didn’t show up…all week. And if you read the previous blog, you know that I went to Mangwaneni to try to find her and see why she wasn’t going to school.

At Mangwaneni I found out she was living with a boyfriend. I actually met the man that day, he was upper 20s and though he was very kind to me, I still couldn’t help but be disgusted. Nomphilo then told me that Khanyi had been kicked out of school becuase a mother from Mangwaneni had called in to the head master and told them that Khanyi smokes and shouldn’t be allowed in school. So they kicked her out. Khanyi went to Ayanda’s mother, who works at the school, and asked if she could negotiate with the head master and get her back into school, but I guess she was refused. Still, through all of this, Khanyi never came to me to talk about it and she still hasn’t come to me since. I asked Johannes to encourage her to still come to see me and we could still work on the alphabet even if she was not in school, but so far…no such luck.

It’s just so sad and heartbreaking. I tried getting 6 kids in school and now only 3 remain. I am sure the last three will stay throughout the year, but it’s still hard to admit that I failed. AT least that’s what it feels like. I pulled the money from Bongiwe’s deposit and used it to finish Johannes and Ayanda’s deposits, which is lucky that they all were enrolled at the same school, or I would have lost that money without getting it returned.

(For those of you who are supporting one of them or still thinking about it, the money I was going to raise for Bongiwe is now being raised for Mbali–Mbali was one of my students last year who was raped and became pregnant. Because she was pregnant (though not her fault!!!!) she was kicked out of the free school I teach at. Because her parents obviously cannot afford to pay for school, she was really depressed and talked about killing herself. I have been helping her along the way and her father and I met to talk about getting her into school. She is now enrolled at a private school in grade 7. I paid her deposit but her yearly costs still remain at $350. So if you have donated to Bongiwe, know that your money is being used now for Mbali. And if you still want to support Mbali, know that it is needed.)

Also, if you could support these young adults by praying for them by name, that would be greatly appreciated. Pray for Johannes, Ayanda, Nomphilo, and Mbali’s successes in school, and please pray earnestly for the lives of Khanyisile, Bongiwe, and Tenele–that they can chose to leave their lives of sin, sex, and drunkenness, and pursue a life of freedom.

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