I have been thinking these past few months about education. Well, this would seem natural, being in a teaching position. The other week I read in the Word, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1). I giggle at myself because I, like most of us I think, do not like being judged for my job. Yet, here I am, teaching, and judged more strictly for it. Education is such an important part of life, someone once told me that we learn something new every day. I was in middle school when I heard this, and naturally I thought this was talking about education in school. As I’m growing up, I’ve remembered that phrase and I realise, education and learning is not always from the classroom.
Every day I can learn something, about the world, about the people around me, about God, and about myself. However, the majority of what I learn is because I have learned something else previously. I can build upon what I already know. One of the most important things we can gain education in is the written word. When I was studying at Bible college, one of my teachers liked to remind us, “Give a man a fish, you’ll feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, you’ll feed him for a lifetime.” So these past two months have been most rewarding as I have settled in my new role at Bali Life Street Centre.
Four Rs: Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmatic, Respect.
In my class we have four regular students. Their ages are 5 years old, 7 years old, 11years old, and 14 years old, and then on occasion, more students join to learn, too. Why such a wide age-range? Because their education level is the same – i.e.: Grade 1. Sure, it’s cute when a 7year old learns to read and you can listen to them stumble over new words and definitely feel pride in how they have learned, and great to watch a five year old counting toys as he learns addition – beyond counting his fingers on two hands. However, one of the most rewarding parts of this job for me is when the eleven and fourteen year olds can read, and read with confidence. I began teaching them sight words early in my time here, so they weren’t sounding out every single word, but able to see a word and immediately know what it was. Through learning to read, these children are able to walk into a whole new world of learning.
Seeds of Life
If a child can learn to read, he or she can learn anything. As long as there is something written in a language he or she knows. Teach a child to read and he can learn his entire life. However, as James points out, being a teacher is not an easy job. It’s a role of responsibility and leadership. It’s a humbling feeling to have children look up to me as a mentor, and knowing that I can help them. But our centre is more than just teaching kids to read and write, or how to pass into middle school. We teach character. Some of these kids have been brushed aside, by their parents and others in authority, forgotten by society, ignored. At the street centre, we have the opportunity to sow seeds of life. We’re teaching children that they are loved, respected, and have a purpose. Also teaching them how to love and respect others. Aside from the kids in my class, we also have teens and preteens who have dropped out of school. These kids do know how to read and write. They want to further their education in order to complete the national test to enter middle school or high school. Every day we learn something. I’m glad to be able to teach reading, writing and arithmetic, but respect, character and morals take these kids a whole lot further into their future. Mostly it comes through leading by example, which is a big deal. I get to show them that they are important. They have value, respect and purpose in life.
What I learned on holidays
In July I had the opportunity to go to Java for a holiday with some teens from our children’s home. Whilst it was a fun, relaxing four day holiday, I also had the opportunity for learning. On the way to our destination, we went up a mountain. On the side of the mountain, I heard a shout. At first I thought they were peddlers trying to sell things, and then I asked our host about it. She told me they were kids and elderly begging. I saw the kids and elderly were dropped off at the mountain each day to beg as cars, bikes, buses and trucks drove past. Then I noticed people literally throwing small change out their windows, and kids running into the road, dodging cars, bikes, buses and trucks, to retrieve that money.
Everywhere in Indonesia needs help. These kids would not be on the streets if they were in education. These kids would not be risking their lives on the side of a mountain if they were in a class room, learning. Bali Life motto is Hope, Dignity and Purpose. These children and women do not have much dignity in their life of begging. It’s the same whether it’s in Bali or Java or wherever. Begging isn’t dignified, and it’s not living out their purpose. I am glad to teach the kids I can, to read and write, but it also opens up their mind to think about their purpose and give them hope for a life of dignity. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans I have for you, plans…to give you hope and a future.” Their life has purpose and hope.
Life of Purpose
Stories for character development with K’Riska
The other week I was teaching the kids a social studies subject and something came up along the lines of occupations. That brought up every child, at least in the west, likes to talk about: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Another way of asking this is, “What is your future desire?” My two young students wanted to be a doctor and a police officer. My older kids said they wanted to go into middle school.
Purpose on Streets?
Last week I was on the street and meeting with some other kids who do not come to our centre, and I was talking with a twelve year old boy. He said he went to school in grade 1, but dropped out and can only read a little bit. So I asked him the same question I had asked the kids in the centre, his answer broke my heart.
He said he didn’t have a future desire. Upon further questioning, he said he used to want to be a police officer, but now felt he couldn’t do that. I encouraged him to come to school with me to read and write, and encouraged him that there are other kids his age who are learning at the same level as him. He was really eager to come, unfortunately, the next day he didn’t show up. Perhaps his parents did not want him to come, or he was shy. Nevertheless, I remember him and will invite him again when I see him next. Bringing this back around, the children in our centre can begin to think about their future, seeing hope for their future. I feel so full to teach them, but I am aware there are so many more who are still not reached with education.
*Every day God’s grace and protection keep me safe here. Especially as I’m on the roads with children on my bike to take them to and from school
*We have a new Indonesian teacher three days a week for our older class. To teach them and help them pass their national exam to enter formal education
*Our children are growing in their characters and growing dreams for their future
*More projects for our women to continue creating products and earn their income in the Women’s Workshop
*The children who do not yet attend can come to school and learn
*God’s continued protection and presence in my life here
*Continued strength, health and safety to teach these children
*VISA approval continues
Blessings in Christ,