A few days ago, I went back to the Education Centre tired, after attending several meetings and concerns in a long rainy day here in Ranong. I thought my day has just finished, and I was excited to take a rest and do some physical exercise, until I saw a little girl. She was trying to reach the huge rubbish bin near our education centre to get some junk stuffs, take them to a shop and sell them there.I took the courage to approach her and be able to talk to her.
Shwe (not her real name, means gold) is nine years old, daughter of Burmese migrant workers. Her mother died already and the father has a new wife and family. She is now staying with a neighbor who survives by collecting rubbish for recycling.
I invited her and her adult companion to collect the empty bottle and plastics in our education centre. I ask one Burmese teacher to talk to the girl and invited her to study with us.
My heart was deeply disturbed to see her collecting rubbish along the road. She should be in the classroom enjoying classes with other children rather than checking every garbage bin in a rainy crossroad.
I hope the world will pause for a while and listen to the stories of children like her.
Last Sept 26 was a historic moment when UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon personally launched “Education First“ (click here for the UN’s article) in the presence of Heads of States and Government Dignitaries, from all over the world, during the 67th Session of the United Nations’ General Assembly.
In the said Assembly, the Secretary General highlighted the three priorities of Education First Campaign:
1. putting every child into school
2. improving the quality of learning
3. fostering global citizenship
He declared, “We are here today because we know every child everywhere deserves that same chance. Education is hope and dignity. Education is growth and empowerment. Education is the basic building block of every society and a pathway out of poverty.”
Mr. Ban Ki-moon challenges the leaders of the world by saying, “We cannot stop until every child, youth and adult has the opportunity to go to school, learn and contribute to society. This is our assignment. This is our homework. Let us pass the test for the world’s children.
“Let us put Education First”
I hope and pray that children, like Swe, will be in school soon instead of collecting the garbage for survival. May she enjoy soon the education, “that is quality, relevant and transformative.”
Fr. Kevin Medilo, sm