Increasing access to an education can improve the overall health and longevity of a society, grow economies and make a nation socially and economically developed. When we leave school we are set to soar high in life, enter the world in pursuit of our dreams. Yet in many developing countries children’s access to education is limited by numerous factors. 113 million children worldwide are currently not in school. Around a billion people are illiterate. India is amongst the countries which hasn’t been able to provide even the most basic elementary education for all its children despite the Right to Education.
A local Indian policeman, tired of seeing the people around him drowning in poverty decided to start his own school. He saw education as a way out, a bridge to a better life. Education is vital in your health, in escaping poverty. It is crucial to establish equality, social justice. It doesn’t just impact individuals, universal education is a huge benefit for society.
17 year-old Cecilia Nogueroles González (Year 7 English section), who volunteered at the Red Cross and in Ecuador was set on lending her helping hand at that school in Jipour for three weeks. When arriving, her first immediate reaction wasn’t excitement, appreciation or wonder for India, it was one of complete and utter shock. “I just wanted to leave, I didn’t think I could handle it.” “I saw a little seven year-old girl, holding a dead baby in her hand, asking for food.” The poverty was overwhelming and unlike anything she had ever seen or could have even imagined. There was an awful lot of pollution. The food they gave her was scarce. It was emotionally draining to see what their daily life, their reality was like. This experience definitely forced her beyond her natural comfort zones. But isn’t that where the magic happens?
These children live their entire lives like this. “I had an opportunity to help them as much as I could, and I wasn’t going to let that slip through my fingers. “ So she toughened up and jumped right in. There was no learning plan. She had to figure it out on her own. It wasn’t easy. 4 and 17 year-olds were in the same class. Some knew how to write and read some didn’t. Most of them were hungry or malnourished, felt dizzy and their faces were yellow and pale. But boys and girls were all filled with aspirations and dreams and determined to learn. “The relationships I had with the kids, the volunteering made up emotional drain and shock. Seeing them improve their English and learning all the continents and capital cities brought me so much joy. It motivated me. I had to stay there. I had to teach them. I wanted them to learn.”
“Despite being their teacher, I think I learnt more from them than they did from me.” Their eagerness to learn made her appreciate the opportunities we’ve always taken for granted. We often unwillingly drag ourselves through the school gates, counting down the seconds until the sound of the bell fills the corridors. But they were so curious and eager to learn. Going to school was their favourite moment of the day. In fact they didn’t want to leave. And some didn’t. They stayed at school, all night from Monday to Sunday. Everyone’s aspiration was to work for the government in India. They worked as hard and as much as they possibly could to try and achieve this. They didn’t want to play games. Because all they wanted was for their family to have money, to have food. “ The fact that a 9 year-old kid wanted to learn non-stop, just warmed my heart and broke it at the same time.”
She bought them pens, notebooks and food. She even gave away all her clothes that she brought with her. They wore the same thing every single day, full of holes but yet they didn’t want to accept it at first. “They told me to give it to someone who needed it. I was so surprised. They didn’t have anything.”
We take everything we can get our hands on and always want more and more without realizing how much we have.
“The experience and memories you get from it is incredible and irreplaceable. I got to see a small part of the world while changing a small part of it for the better. And it changed me too.”