Their faces showed their anticipation, as they saw us coming. They stood outside their classroom and were excited to welcome us. As we stood at the entrance, eagerly some kids came forward with a big smile on their face and sang a welcome song for our team members. They sang in a distorted melody but they sang it with such joy and enthusiasm that it made us feel more than welcomed. We encouraged them by clapping our hands in appreciation and the students blushed as one by one they went back in to sit on their seats.
We were led by the teacher to sit on a bench that faced towards the students. I was excited myself to be spending a day in a PEP school and I eagerly listened to the lesson that had begun. As I observed each student, I could see willingness, interest and determination as obediently they took out their books to read their lesson.
One of our team members Purkho (Aflatoun Coordinator), who gave the students social and financial training, did a few activities with the children. The kids were learning about personal understanding and exploration. Through these activities we had a great chance to interact with all students, through asking questions and listening to their views. The children were asked to make a drawing of their village which helped them to understand how important it was to personally know the place where they lived. As the students struggled to make a drawing of their village, I strolled through each bench and looked at their drawings. I asked one of the students to show me their drawing, and they not only showed me but explained their whole drawing.
These are houses.
These are trees.
This is a hand pump.
This is a school.
This is a playground.
This is the toilet…
The students were one by one called forward to show and explain their drawing in front of the class and they performed their task wonderfully. Through this activity the students were able to learn the changes that they could make in their village in future. They could build more trees, more toilets and thus fulfill their necessary needs.
Their interest and enthusiasm clearly indicated the progress they were making. Even though these students belonged to poor families, they had the potential to make a difference and break the cycle of poverty in their community. All of these students were the first in their family to ever go to a school. I could see these students had dreams that they were working to fulfill.
As we left the school and headed back, I could still see the smiling faces of the students before my eyes. I had seen hope that day and I believe that these students can make even greater progress in the future.