wading through a river to go to school
“I want my children to grow up in better circumstances than I did”, says Aliyu to the principals of the school. One day he came to Hope Eden and requested that his children go to school there. He already brought along three of his five children. Before, he had sent them to a public school. According to him, they didn’t learn anything there. The public school takes place in a village in the middle of the bush. Sometimes, the teachers only turn up once or twice a week. In order to reach the school, a river has to be crossed. Most teachers don’t want to go to the trouble of crossing the river; but they also don’t want to live in the village. When Aliyu came to Hope Eden on this particular morning, he also had to wade through the river while carrying his children.
Aliyu himself can read and write a little and speaks Pidgin English. His wife is illiterate, like many women of her generation. He earns money through processing wood with his power saw and selling the wood. However, if no orders come in then there is no money. “If I had received a better education, I would be able to take better care of my family today.” It pains him that his children do not even learn to read properly in the public school. He already took his eldest son out of school because of that.
A good private school is out of the question – he cannot afford the fees. Hope Eden and its school are known throughout these parts as a place where “children learn better”. Aliyu is a Muslim but that does not deter him from wanting his children to attend the school of Hope Eden; a school that operates on Christian principals and values.
The staff of Hope Eden were impressed by his great dedication to his children and that he wants his daughters to receive the same level of education as his sons. This is by no means a common way of thinking in these parts.
His son Abubakar and his daughter Zuwoira have attended Hope Eden Community School for one year now. By the time they arrive there for their classes, laughing and greeting everyone, they have already spent one hour getting to school. During the wet season their father accompanies them and helps them to cross the river, before they manage the rest of the way on their own.
Both of them have made significant progress and are able to converse in English fairly well. Whatever they learn at school, they teach their siblings at home.