Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Reality of their Lives

It was a typical day at school. After finishing the last lesson and seeing the children off, I went to the Principal's cabin to sign out for the day. When I was there, I realized something was amiss. Two set of parents had been called and there was a frantic hunt on in the neighbourhood for their children. From the conversation between the Principal, parents and supervisor, I figured out what had transpired.

One of our kids in a TFI classroom was thrown in the sewage drain flowing behind the school. What was more shocking was that he was thrown in the drain by none other than two of our school's senior students from grade X. While the ones who committed the crime escaped then, they were soon identified and reported to the school authorities.

I had reached the scene while this hunt was on. The children guilty of the act were brought to the school by their relatives. The conversation between parents, school staff and these students started on an interrogatory tone. They were asked questions about their whereabouts and then confronted directly on the incident. The moment the authorities realized that the children were evading the truth, all hell broke lose.

The father of one of the children slapped him right across his face. He then removed his leather belt and started whipping the child on every available part of his body, including his face. He went on for nearly five minutes using the strength of every muscle in his hand, shoulder and arms while constantly abusing the child. Instead of stopping him, the school supervisor egged him on saying "If you don't hit him, I will. He needs to be taught a LESSON he will never forget." She was holding a thick cane all this while. After he was done with one kid, he turned his attention to the other kid and hit him for the next five minutes. The first kid was still sobbing, his scars having turned red.

The only people trying to protect the children were my colleague from TFI and the man's wife. While my colleague realized soon his efforts were futile, the mother of the child persisted long enough to draw the wrath of the father's fury. He slapped her in front of everyone present there, accusing her of being incapable of managing the only job she has in the day - that of taking care of children when the father is at work.

I couldn't stand watching the drama any longer. I walked away from the scene, taking deep breaths trying to compose myself and not showing the anger that was seething within me. The violence was inhumane. How can one even think of inflicting such physically pain on their own children? How will that ever help change their behaviour? What it will do is only make the children accept that such violence is the right way of serving justice to someone who, they believe, has done wrong. They in turn will become who their parents are today.

The challenges in the classroom are manageable, but the influences outside the classroom are not. Finding ways to isolate my children from their neighbouring environment is difficult. How do I find ways to impart the wisdom that prevents them from internalizing the learning from such incidents - the lesson that is detrimental to them and their future families? How do I make them believe that there is a life that is without fear and violence? How do I make them walk a different path, one that they have never seen or one someone known to them has never walked? Considering we celebrated Independence Day just few days ago with them, how do I set them free from this vicious cycle? Ideas, anyone?

1 comment:

Vespertine said...

I haven't been on your blog in a while; congrats on your decision to join TFI. The posts have been insightful. My heart goes out to Ahmed's family.

I differ from you on one point in this post- the influences outside the classroom ARE probably the biggest challenge you will face in the classroom that you need to manage.

(Of course, I speak from zero first hand knowledge)

Wish you the very best in bringing about the change you wish to, one child at a time.