Thursday, August 18, 2011

School of St Jude

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Ok, I am going to be totally honest... I am MOST looking forward to meeting the children at St Judes. I keep telling myself not to have a "MOST looking forward to" anything, to try to enjoy each experience as it comes and appreciate the whole of it. I don't want to miss a single second of this experience because I'm too busy looking forward, or looking back.

BUT... I am a kid person. Since I've been forced to accept the responsibily of being an "adult" I've been caring for and loving children. I get them. They know. I know. It's all that needs to be said. So... I am (not so) secretly craving the day I walk onto St Jude's campus to meet the wonderful people to take care of those magical, semi-grown humans (aka, MY people).

We had a conference call this week with all the girls on the 3P3w 2012 Africa climb, and Kim from St Judes. Kim has been involved with St Judes since the school started. I immediately appreciate her straight forward nature combined with her obvious love for the children (I can relate!). She tells us about the school. How admissions are done, the current issues in Tanzania, expresses her appreciation and lack of understanding for what we are doing. She is... Fantastic.

Tanzania is rough right now. I know we've all heard about the famine in East Africa lately. From what I understand, Tanzania is affected in periphery. But as Kim explained, fuel is sparce, they are mainly running on generators because of issues in obtaining electricity, and water is not easy to come by.

It has to be a different planet than where I live, right?

I feel myself becoming increasingly frustrated as I listen to her talk so matter-of-factly about how little there is on this Great Continent that I dream of... I'm spending too much. I'm doing too little.

Those babies don't have much of a shot at fulfilling a dream. The average schools in Tanzania house classes full of 60-80 primary school kids (yes, per class!). They aren't allowed to speak during class. (I just imagine the lecture halls as a college student, but fill the seats with 7 year olds who are trying to learn how to WRITE... how the heck does THAT work?) They don't have light at night to do their homework after their chores. (Chores meaning, going to find water, literaly.) As I learned, the ones who have candles are the lucky ones.

I'm spending too much... I'm doing too little...

St Judes is free to these kids. But, because of the high standard of education and the promising future it affords, it is an incredibly desirable school for these kids. With an average class size of 28 students, multiple computer labs, and with boarding, the security of 3 meals a day, one bed per person, electricity, and water... it shouldn't be surprising that 1% of the 2,000 kids who show up for entrance exams will be accepted into the school.

(Shamefully stolen from the St. Jude website...)

It's heartbreaking. I'm not sure if I'll freeze up when we make our visit, or break down and cry, or find myself a child to love and give what I can, while I can.

Statistics: The school educates almost 1500 kids. All of the secondary students are "boarding" they go home three times a year. It provides the kids with security (of things like food, water, and light) and the family with extra space, food, water (with one less mouth to feed). The primary school children are boarding Sunday through Friday. They go home to their families on the weekends. It costs about 3.5 million USD per year to run the school. It is funded entirely by chairty donations. All classes are taught in English, as it is the most common language internationally spoken. (There's so much more, but I was having a hard time writing as I listened!!!)

I believe in this. I listened to her speak and I could hear the sounds of Arusha and children in the background. I don't understand what it's like not to have clean water, or electricity. But I know what it means to love a child. I long to hold these babeies, and ultimately, try to make something better for them. Certainly, this adventure is the first step.


(Video stolen as well, ;-)

Good luck dragging me away from this place...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Update - August 9, 2011

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Exactly five months from today I will be in the middle of the climb on Mt. Kenya.

I'm pretty much gonna explode just thinking about it. Those unfortunate enough to spend their days around me know that I've been counting down for a year now. When I announced this morning that I would be climbing a mountain in Kenya in "JUST FIVE MONTHS!" they looked almost as excited as I feel!

Fundraising: I stink at asking people for money. I finally sent The Email... I've had some nice responses. Some great ideas and offers have come through with fundraising, as well as a little bit of money. Clearly, I am going to have to get more creative in my approach. I'm feeling pressure, which is GREAT! I need pressure!

Training: I'm always doing something active. I'm probably on the mountain three times a month - not to train, but because I love it. I NEED it. Luckily, I can call this training now! I'm also doing the Hood to Coast Relay in Portland in a couple of weeks (to which, I've committed to running much faster than I actually run...) and will participate in my ninth of twelve mountain bike races of the summer tonight. I'm loving it all. Hopefully, this all makes me fit enought to climb 3 of the highest mountains in 3 weeks in AFRICA in five months? Errrr... I might need to focus a little bit.

All of that being said, the emotions that come with the pressure of fundraising, personal finances, training, work, and life are focused into pure joy when I watch the video below. Simply put, I have a really hard time believing that I will be a part of this...