Today I met the most extraordinary girl who has come from the most extraordinary circumstances.
And I wanted to cry for her.
A 16 year old who could not read or write. A 16 year old who was pulled out of primary school by her mother and ‘home schooled.’ A 16 year old, who, after some discussion and the use of open questions, explained that ‘home schooled’ meant looking after her kid sisters and brothers whilst her mother inhaled, injected, used and abused whatever drug she could find. A 16 year old who has never met her father and has never known his name. A 16 year old who lives in an isolated rural community and doesn’t have any friends.
I wanted to cry for this girl.
She was small in stature and thin. She obediently answered my questions but in a timid voice. She had the equivalent of a sixth grade education and could not read the forms I gave her. She’s 16 years old and she can’t multiply. She can’t divide. She can’t add. She can’t subtract.
I wanted to cry.
Her world is so far removed from my world. And yet we live and belong in the same world. How do we as a society let this happen? How did the system fail her? How did the system fail her mother? Low socio-economics isn’t just something that I’ve read about it in my theory books at university. The reality of low socio-economics is now staring me honestly and vulnerably in the face.
And now I have the opportunity to make a difference. To help her. To improve her quality of life by helping her to get an education. By giving her something to strive for. By motivating her to rise above her current situation and avoid the situation that had befallen her mother.
Now I don’t want to cry anymore. Now I have hope for her. Now I can almost smile for her.
And I will also pray – not just for her, but for her mother too.