Lately I’ve become convinced that education and connection are the keys to eliminating suffering. Father Joseph Okumu said that had the people in Northern Uganda had access to the Internet and telephones, that war would not have happened. It would have been harder to create the fevered pitch of the Rwandan genocide, had there been more access to information.
With education, people are more likely to question, to inquire, to learn about what’s really going on. With education, people choose hope and expansion over fear and contraction. They don’t just buy what they’re told. They seek second and third opinions.
That’s why I’m so dismayed by the lack of funding given to our schools by legislators. In California, we pay state legislators $110,000 a year. Yet we pay our teachers less than half that. By the way, in Silicon Valley, the average teacher makes poverty wages. And we wonder why California schools are falling behind.
In Africa, the children often work one year to pay for one year of school. On average, it costs between $50 and $150 a year to send a child to school there. However, when you’re living on $3 a day, this is a significant investment. Often, families will eat millet seed and go without in order to sent their child to school.
In parts of Africa, the difference between going to school and not can mean life or death. That’s why I love the story of Sister Irene Guia. She’s working with young people who have abandoned the school system in the refugee camps for displaced people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She works with two camps in Rwanda, Gihembe and Kiziba, which are about 100 kilometers apart.
She decided that even though these young people have left the school system, they also need hope. So she found a way to build a computer lab in the camp at Kiziba. There she teaches them basic computer skills. Her hope is that with a basic education and some computer training, these people can leave the camp and begin to make a life for themselves.
What she’s giving them is much more than an education. She’s giving them hope.
Hope from education and connection.
You know the best part? There are hundreds of people like Sister Irene out there, working to make a profound difference in lives that crave a glimpse of hope. I hope you’ll find somebody doing something that sings to your heart and support them.
Mark Jordan is a writer and marketing consultant who helps out with marketing communications efforts for Inveneo, a social enterprise dedicated to using the tools of information and communications to connect those who need it most. Through Inveneo, Mark got to experience the power of hope and love firsthand in IDP (refugee) camps in Northern Uganda. Today his main focus is bringing attention to the work of amazing people who are bringing hope to those who might not otherwise have a voice.