Picking up an Education

The children of Phnom Penh’s Jesus school live in a dump. Literally. Each day they leave homes cobbled together from discarded material, walk a dirt street hard-packed by tut-tuts and trucks dropping off refuse, pass random fires and a small pond that screams pollution and, ignoring the penetrating smell, make their way to the Jesus School. So, why aren’t they miserable?

The school boasts a few classrooms divided among two hundred children. The classrooms can be crowded, but they’re good enough to house the children. The whiteboards have holes in them, but they’re good enough to hold the lessons. The chairs and desks are worn, but they’re good enough to support the kids. A single fan shoulders the burden of cooling each twenty by twenty classroom. It barely stirs the air, but it is good enough.

The children here are very good at good enough. Each day they leave for school at seven. At eleven they begin a three-hour break. They adjourn school and return to the dump heap, searching for something that was discarded by the poor people in a poor country, something which still holds enough value to sell or trade for a day’s worth of food. Then they return and study until five when, once again, they search the dump for something good enough to bring them food. Good enough keeps them alive.

They don’t see the Jesus School through western eyes. They see the excellent teachers, the care given by those who serve there, and the free tuition. They don’t focus on the parts of the school that are just good enough, they see the treasure that hides behind. We see that garbage strewn street as leading from the school back to their homes at the dump. They see that same street leading from their homes to the future. They see the whiteboards, stifling rooms and rickety desks, as sight flaws in a diamond.

Smart kids.

(Grace Opens Doors and Salt Church were honored to send $9000.00 USD to the Jesus School. Three thousand was used to care for the families after a recent community fire. Six thousand will be used to provide a covering for the school’s play area, new white boards, shelves for books and four new computers.)