Thursday, 3 November 2011

Chapter 84 What it's like for a kid

One of the first to put his hand up, he shakes his light brown hair out of his eyes and says in frustration:

'What do I do here after school? Sometimes I go learn how to play the saxophone then I go home and sleep. In America kids have football practice and a million other things they can do.'

Her dark eyes flashing she stands up and gesticulates to make her point :

'In other places people go to malls and the cinema. There are places for them to go sit. Every day after school I go home, study then go to bed.'

'All I want in my life is so see the sea. Why did they have to take this land?' He asks hopelessly, long limbs he has yet to grow into flailing about.

'I hate being Palestinian when the Israelis come in. Why should I have to worry about being killed or not having any safety?'

He is 10 years old.

'People throw all their trash on the street because they're too lazy to walk a bit to put it in the garbage.' Little trousered legs swing underneath his desk.

An arm waves around in excitement 'I went to Jerusalem once. Miss Sara it was so beautiful.'

'People here have no respect. They're always yelling at each other and threatening each other.' Murmurs of agreement from the rest of the class.

A dark boy with a shock of straight black hair stands up and addresses the class 'All of you here, you all want to leave right? No! You shouldn't. This is my country, I was born here and I will stay here!'

'I want to go somewhere else and have a good life.'

I could not have imagined such an innocuous essay topic could have taken such a turn.

I would not have presumed such well formed, passionate opinions from children so young. Or the depth of reason and emotional maturity, well beyond their years.

They are right. There are no structured activities for them to participate in after school. When school ends at 2pm, there is an entire day still left where they could still be learning, doing and growing. Instead, children either roam the streets or go home and study until their minds give out.

A colleague of mind was threatened by a child with a knife at our free after school English classes. A child who, had there been productive activities to channel his energies into, would never have found himself bored, unsupervised and armed.

Adults are frustrated and worn down by the difficulty of every day life. That flows down to their children, many of whom spend day after day with nothing to do but get into trouble in the streets.

What will become of these children? Things are not going to get easier any time soon. How far can they really go along these paths?

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