Dear Friends and Family,
These are my thoughts and connections. I ask nothing other then for you to understand that I am scared for Town's friends in Bumpe.
It's scary. The media is finally doing a better job of sharing with us the fact that Ebola is real and it is deadly. We may finally be listening. We are learning more and more, day by day, and it is getting closer to home by the hour. With every scare and every case that exists in the US our world and personal health feels compromised.
However, the way to stop this pandemic from really tearing across the globe is to go to the source. Western Africa. I recently stumbled upon this article written through the eyes of a 13 year old. Maybe it was because it was through the eyes of a 13 year old that really hit me. I work with 13 year olds everyday. But perhaps truly it's the connection I have with a group of students and my friend Hindo in Sierra Leone that is making this more real. If those students, who wrote these word problems for us last year, come down with this disease, how will I process this? More importantly how will I explain to my students? My 13 year olds? Life isn't fair doesn't exactly cut it. We talk about the birth lottery in the classroom (great example here), and how just by coordinates of latitude and longitude where you are born determines so much. What did West African people do to live with this fear? Live without access to healthcare and disease prevention? Perhaps they were just born.
Here in the garage we talk about the UN Millennium Goals often. We discuss how interwoven poverty, healthcare, and education are and how to combat one without combatting the other is impossible. What is going to wake us up? The goals are lofty, we haven't solved them. How can this pandemic make more people aware, concerned and willing to act? What will it be, The fact that the price of chocolate is going to go up because Wester Africa is the largest provider of cocoa beans? I hope that the reason you are reading this is not a financial one, not a worry about cocoa and diamonds. Their are people dying at rapid and exponential rates. Financially speaking we just need to remember that money goes a long way in these struggling countries. In fact, your cup of Starbucks every morning could be the amount that saves a family.
Being in constant contact with Hindo, I am absolutely amazed by his stories and pictures. They feel upbeat and hopeful to me as he concentrates on keeping his area of Sierra Leone safe. He's a warrior. The community is full with warriors. So I write because I want to tell you a little bit about Hindo, his family and our work with Bumpe.
Who is Hindo?
Hindo is my contact in Sierra Leone who assisted Town School's connection to a school in Bumpe, and he continues to orchestrate global connections for the benefit of school communities. We discovered Hindo through World Leadership School. We learn so much about the world from these global connections. But Hindo is not an educator by trade. Hindo, in his early 20's, is studying law in Freetown. Excuse me, WAS studying law in Freetown. (You may be aware that all schools in Sierra Leone are shut down. Fear is rising that this will increase many things... high school drop out rates, pregnancy rates, and orphan rates to name a few. In an effort to keep kids educated they are launching "Radio" School. Not a perfect solution, but better than nothing) Hindo is not abandoning ship and leaving Western Africa. Hindo is staying to support his community and educate them to be safe.
Who is Hindo's Family?
Hindo's parents are teachers. His father is the principal of Bumpe High School (what used to be a premiere boarding school in West Africa before being destroyed by the Rebel War) and his mother started the first Kindergarten program in Bumpe. Bumpe's father is an educator by choice. In fact, he is the eldest son of the late paramount chief of Bumpe Ngao Chiefdom and his brother is now Chief. He would have been the Chief, but he chose another path... education. Hindo's sister (shares the blood of his father), Sara Culberson, lives in Los Angeles California. Sara was raised in the US by an adoptive family. She shares her story in the book, A Princess Found.
How have we connected here at Town?
Last year not only did we, the 5th and 6th graders, connect with Bumpe in math class, but Kindergarten classes exchanged idea about what being a kid is and worked together on children's rights. You can read more about it here. Amazing stuff. In Science class, the boys also exchanged information and questions relevant to their class. This was all thanks to Hindo and Jennifer Klein of World Leadership School. You can read about Jennifer's adventures to Sierra Leone and her time in Bumpe. She was their in MARCH. She has two columns of interest.... here and HERE.
I share these facts about the family, because I trust them and their mission and I hope that by understanding more about them you will too. I say that Hindo is not an educator by trade, but he is most certainly an educator. Hindo is doing everything to keep his community safe by educating them. You can learn more about this current efforts here. Perhaps give even $5 to support in a VERY direct way.
I enjoy getting updates from Hindo via facebook and the pictures of the community banding together to stay safe is inspiring. I only wish I could do more.
I write this letter to share my passion for what is a very sad thing occurring in this world. The US is faced with it's own level of fear and potential health issues regarding Ebolo. The truth is, we can't turn our back on West Africa. While we may opt out of a weekend jaunt to avoid discomfort and fear in boarding a plane, Sierra Leone just finished a 3 day curfew/lockdown to help identify cases and locate scores of bodies. Let's make sure to recognize that this scary pandemic will not go anywhere if we can't find a way to band together.
Thanks for listening,