On Friday, January 14th, I set out with one goal and one goal only: get Tenele into school. But God had other plans. At the end of the day, I, unfortunately, had not accomplished my goal; however, like Jesus multiplied the bread and fish, he multiplied the number of children that did get into school that day.
I had previously talked to the headmaster of Enjabulweni, where I teach, and negotiated with him to get Tenele a spot in school. He said as long as I take responsibility for her, I can get her in but she needs to meet with him so he can test her level of ability and place her accordingly. Plans were set to meet him at 9 a.m. on Friday morning. I had seen Tenele for the previous two days and had reminded her several times, just to make sure she would show up. I was pretty confident she would show up because she was very excited for the opportunity to get back into school.
So Friday morning rolled around, and at 8 a.m. there were voices outside the house as one young girl kept yelling, “Mahdi-Kate! Mahdi-Kate!” The voice was so loud I could hear her from the shower, and I was certain she was waking up our entire house. As I went out to meet them, I found Nomphilo, Bongiwe, and Khanyisile.
I had met the three girls the previous days as Bongiwe pleaded with me to help Nomphilo get back into school. I was beyond thrilled because I had been trying to tell the girls they needed to get back into school, but they never really gave much thought to it. Now, here they were for the second time and an hour early! I told them we had to wait for Tenele…so we waited…and waited… and she didn’t come. I couldn’t be late to meet the head teacher so we walked to the school. I sat down with the head teacher and explained that Tenele had not shown up today but hopefully would come tomorrow, but that I had another young girl who wanted a spot in the school. After some talking and convincing him that I knew Nomphilo well enough and would take responsiblity for her, too, he let her come in to register for the grade. The look on her face was a pure, childlike joy that I have never seen in her before. So, though we didn’t get Tenele registered, we got Nomphilo back to school!
As we walked back, I was talking to the girls about school. Bongiwe was telling me about her situation and how she was attending Form II of high school but had to drop out because she did not have money. The more we talked, the more I wanted to help this young woman who helped Nomphilo get in school. So, I offered to help get a sponsor and pay for her school fees. We went back to my house and Ayanda and Johannes showed up. I had told Johannes I would also try to get a school for him as well.
So, the six of us kids and my friend Michael all traveled to find if there were any schools that still had room for the kids. Our first two spots were failures. But by this time, the girls and I had convinced Khanyisile (who had refused to go back to school) that education was a key to her future and that she should take adavantage of the opportunity.
So, at Manzini Central Primary school, it just so happens that we caught the secretary as she was about to close up. Though she was not happy to let us back into the school office, she was kind and by the grace of God registered Khanyisile into Grade 4 with no further questions about Khanyisile’s background (she is not a Swazi, but was from Mozambique). Again, the look on her face was radiant.
Bongiwe first told me about the school she wanted to be enrolled in, but then told me how expensive it was and suggested another school that was much cheaper for me. We went to Polex Christian Private school and at the private schools, they don’t ask questions, they don’t really care who is being enrolled or why because they just want money. So, I registered Bongiwe without a problem; then I told Johannes about it. At first, he didn’t want to go to school there, but at this point, it was the last day of registration and the other schools we had tried were already full. And Johannes was content telling me that he would wait to go to school until next year. But a year without school would be very damaging to him, especially because he was supposed to be entering high school now. So, Michael and I preached to Johannes about making the most of the opportunity, and even though it was a further way away from the center of Manzini, he should be willing to make the effort to attend. I told him that sometimes we have to do things in life that we don’t want to do in order to do the things we do. He agreed and went inside to register as Ayanda lept from the vehicle saying, “me too, me too!” (Ayanda was in Form I last year but because she failed the finals, her mother was so upset she refused to pay for her to go back to school. And the reason Ayanda failed? Because he mother didn’t have enough money to pay the transport for her to get to school, which was a LONG ways away, so Ayanda missed a lot of school days.)
So, five minutes later, we had all three registered in high school! I was thrilled! What started out as a disappointing day with Tenele’s classic no-show, ended with not one but SIX kids in school! I cannot even begin to explain the thrill of that here. We take education for granted at home, without realizing how important it is for these childrens’ futures and how many of them never get spots in school.
Now, the only problem was…I got them registered, I paid the deposits…but where do I get the money to pay the actual school year fees and uniform fees? I wasn’t worried. If God, our multiplier of bread and fish, could multiply the number of students registered in school, I knew Jehovah-Jireh would provide the funds needed.