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Low, High, and Somewhere In the Middle

Low: Dipuo came to Bakhita Village some years ago, fitting in quite well and thriving. After graduating from primary school, she entered St. Brendan’s High School where she was a boarder last year getting very good grades and a solid promotion to grade 9. She is one of “our” girls that Bakhita Charities sponsors – paying all expenses for her education.

A few days ago, Dipuo’s aunt arrived and said to us that she had come to collect her niece. Dipuo told her that she wants to leave St. Brendan’s and return to her village to live with relatives. The family lives with little food, no jobs and minimal opportunity for improvement. Living in such a poor, rural village will give her little chance to finish her high school education and will not begin to offer the opportunities that are available here at St. Brendan’s.

Many people from St. Brendan’s – the Sisters, Dipuo’s aunt and ourselves – tried to dissuade her but she insisted on leaving with no particular explanation. Given that she is seventeen, she is free to make that choice. It was a very sad day.

High: Friday evenings after supper, the Bakhita girls have a dance party. This week, we joined the fun, armed with popcorn and nose flutes for everyone. John demonstrated, playing several songs that the girls knew including Jingle Bells. The girls began to try them out and the nose flutes provided an hour of giggling and great entertainment – even for Auntie Dinah and Sr. Clothilde.

Somewhere In the Middle: Every January a new school year begins and a few changes happen at Bakhita Village. This year a few girls left to go back and live with family members in their home villages. In some cases, as South Africa develops and moves out of extreme poverty, family members are better able to care for children that they could not care for earlier.

Irene had been at Bakhita Village for two years but has now returned to her home village of Maphosa. Her mother, who was very ill for several years, was unable to care for Irene but has now recovered enough to bring her child home. Yesterday we visited and presented Irene with her gift bag that we brought from the United States.

The family lives a very sparse existence with little food in the house and only two wooden benches for furniture. Irene must walk a long distance to school and will certainly have many fewer material items as well as fewer opportunities for a good education. But she has her family and isn’t that the ideal for which most children yearn? She gave us smiles and hugs when we met and was particularly happy to see her Bakhita sister, Macheba, who went along with us. We all shed a tear but she does seem happy. It’s not perfect but it is what it is.

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