Up until 2016 all the primary school -going children at the Sandra Jones Centre went to the local school in the area, a 4 kilometer walk from the centre. The classes there are very big, in excess of 50 children per class and 1 teacher. Needless to say very little learning gets done unless you are very academic and well behaved. Children with learning problems and in our case, traumatized children, really do not fare well. Corporal punishment is the norm and children are disciplined with canes or sticks and made to sit quietly on the floor at the back of the classroom as punishment. Our children can arrive at the Sandra Jones Centre at any point of their lives and their academic experience is always lacking. They may not have been to school at all or missed a lot due to their abuse and family situations. Sending them to the local school just was not working on any level. Thus we decided to home school the children at the centre. Little did we realize what a success it would be! We have so many success stories but let me just give you one example. Millie ( 5 ) and her sister Ronda (3) came to us 9 years ago. They had been severely physically abused by their father and then abandoned with an aunt who did not want them and kept them locked up at home while she went to prostitute herself. She continued to abuse them physically. Millie always tried to protect her little sister and she still bears the scars today. A neighbor reported the abuse and they came to live with us.
They both attended the local school for a few years. When we first did academic assessments Millie was by now in Grade 4 and 9 years old but her assessment results put her at below pre-school levels. She could not read and was a very angry little girl. She was always in trouble for her "attitude, laziness and stubborness" these words are actually used in her school report. She was one of the first 7 children in our home school and she was not at all keen to learn - she would just put her head on the desk and refuse to look at anyone or anything. That year with her was a miracle as she slowly came out of her shell and learned the first 17 words to read her first book! She realized that she loves maths and is a wonderful little artist! She has grown into a sensible little lady and has a wonderful sense of humour. She is now in Grade 6 and doing exceptionally well. She will write her Grade 7 exams next year and we expect good results from her. She still has the emotional scars from her past and if she doesn't want to do something, she will not do it. She has the opportunity to be herself and feel safe and loved and develop at her own pace. We are so proud of her and thank God for the opportunity to rescue little souls like her.
A huge thank you to AFCA for making it possible for us to give Millie and Ronda and so many others like them hope for the future!
Everyone here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, and our partners in Africa, thank you for your continued support of this important project. If you would like to learn even more about this project and others, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org.
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