When you were 10, what did you do?
Play with your dog? Ride your bike? Bake cookies with your mom?
When Ali was 10, he did none of these things.
Ali loved school. He felt that his school was a safe place to be, that it gave him strength, and that his “brain got very big,” there. However, the teacher confronted Ali one day and told him that Ali’s father had not been paying his school fees. At PEP schools, every child pays 100 rupees (about $1 or 65 p) per month to ensure they are dedicated to coming to the school and to build community ownership of the school. The teacher thought it was odd that Ali’s parents had not paid, as parents rarely have complaints that the fee is too much of a financial burden for them.
But Ali knew why. Ali’s father was an alcoholic and had refused to go to work to support his family. If his father did go to work, he spent all the money on cigarettes and alcohol. Ali, his mother, and his 3 younger siblings had to start working after school to help buy food for their family. When summer break came, Ali’s father was still not supporting his father so instead, Ali worked everyday in the fields and did jobs around his village so that he could earn enough money to support his family. At the end of the summer, Ali had made enough to keep himself and his 3 younger siblings in school for the next year, to buy a new outfit for each of his siblings, and had money left over to give to his mother for food!
Ali also gained confidence that summer. When school started, he stood up to his father. He told him that he should not be wasting money on alcohol when his family had needs to be met. He even threatened to leave with his younger siblings and move in with relatives if his father didn’t stop drinking. Today, Ali’s father is working more and drinking less. He helped tell this story to PEP because he is proud of his son.
Ali says that he learned determination and courage in school. He said that in school they taught him how to accomplish his dreams. Let us pray that Ali will always remember his dreams and have the courage to fight for them!