Julius is a six-year-old boy in Tanzania. Like most six-year-old boys, he enjoys playing with his friends, playing soccer and getting dirty from building forts out of stones and sticks.
Even at such a young age, Julius has had his share of struggles. We first met Julius as a three-year-old attending the nursery school we helped build in Tanzania. At the time he was a street child, living with his mentally ill mother who frequently abused him with hot sticks from the embers of a fire. Fortunately, that has all changed for the better.
Due to the proactive involvement of the Principal at the Nursery School and its partnership with Asante Africa, Julius was placed into a full time boarding school that accepted boarders in grade one (boarding schools for students in first grade is rare and highly unusual). Upon entering the first grade, Julius found himself facing a different challenge. He was one among 147 students with only a single teacher. In addition to the astounding landslide of the student-teacher ratio, there were minimal teaching aids and materials.
Despite the challenges facing Julius, we were excited to check in with him this past week to see how he was adjusting to his new school and how he was faring in such a big class. When Julius heard that Albert, Asante Africa’s scholarship coordinator was at the school office, he came running. Julius had news to share. He stood proudly and announced that he had scored very high on all his tests and he was ranked number five out of the 147 students. Although impressed with the news, Albert couldn’t help but tease Julius about how this could possibly be true. To which Julius, with every inch of his little body vehemently responded, “Truly, it is all true!” During our visit, Julius jumped in excitement and joy at a photo op with Albert to celebrate. Then, Julius happily went back to playing soccer and getting dirty with his friends after school.
Because of well-intentioned, global minded citizens, teachers, advocates and donors who sponsor children like Julius, these children will have a better chance for a stronger start in school and the potential for a better life in the long term. Asante Sana