I met one of my school masters in town today. He retired from teaching a few years ago and returned to Bangladesh with his family.
We had a bit of a chat and he told me that he had returned to teaching, but rather than at a public school he was now teaching street children. These young children were attending school between jobs or instead of scavenging for the next meal. Many of them had no home to return to and lived on very dangerous streets.
We discussed the difference in attitude towards school between the kids he used to teach and those he teaches now. I must admit that having seen kids walking miles to school in a number of countries; what he told me came as no surprise.
I decided I would write this poem to record the difference;
The kids sit in the back of the car
A big, posh four by four,
Their mother’s taking them to school
A place they all abhor.
They’re dressed up smart at start of day
and their faces wear a frown.
by break they’ll have their shirt tails out
as tie and socks come down.
They talk in class and muck about
And tease those keen to learn
They have to hear things several times
As they their lessons spurn.
Their homework seems to take an age
and boy don’t they complain
they’d rather play on their x-box
then develop their brain.
These kids are a privileged lot
most eat three times a day
they get to sleep in their own beds
and have toys with which to play.
In other parts of our world
The story’s very different
Some kids live on the streets alone
while society remains indifferent.
These kids have horrific tales,
they’re often all alone,
Two things they have in common.
Abuse; and nowhere to call home.
There are kids who live with kin
and some even go to school
but they work in their spare time
and life is often cruel.
Governments, charities and missions
Offer some poor children schooling
And kids can walk for many miles
Their journey often gruelling.
Some lucky kids have uniforms
They are always smartly worn
and the children pay attention
when the teacher’s in front of form.
These children are all eager
To learn and better themselves
They take nothing for granted
And work as hard as elves.
They wear smiles on their faces
and grasp opportunity by the hand,
they do all they can to better themselves
and stride forth from where they stand.
Many kids of the rich, like their parents,
take for granted the privilege they share.
They moan at the chances they’re given
and with glum faces shout ‘It’s not fair”.
And then there’s the kid in a million
Who grows up with a conscience fair
and devotes their life to poor children;
the ‘have nots’ in need of care.
John Carré Buchanan
19 July 2011