Sometimes in life, events that should elicit great joy and happiness provoke tears too. Not tears of joy, but tears that flow from real pain. It is when the soul feels ambushed, scorched and squeezed by some regret, which springs up right in the middle of a God moment.
I visited Hope Primary School. As my time encouraging teachers there drew to a close, two of them brought me the story of one of their graduated students. They wanted me to give scholarship to a student that fell below the standard by a very narrow margin. I dismissed their request because it didn’t align with the standards set for governing our Scholarship Program.
I’ve come to learn that sometimes, you are your best intercessor.
As I was leaving the school, a young man walked up to me and began his story.
“My name is Caesar,” he said.
As his story went, he was a student of New Generation Primary School in Yei, South Sudan and he remembered me from my time there. When the war broke out, his father, a farmer, fled with him and his siblings to their village. Then when the war arrived there, they ran across the border into Uganda.
His father, on seeing the pitiful condition in the refugee camp, sent Caesar and his siblings to stay with an Uncle. He hoped his brother would take better care of them. However, the Uncle took the children to a friend of his in another camp and abandoned them there.
Since Caesar and his siblings weren’t registered at that refugee camp, they couldn’t get their food rations, making an already miserable life more terrible. Caesar sent his siblings back to their parents who were in another camp because they couldn’t even go to school. Help came to Caesar through the School Feeding Program at Hope Primary, where he got his only meals for the day.
I knew there were children who lived solely on the meals served at the school. Here, right before me, was one such student and his journey captured my heart.
The Scholarship Fund had guaranteed the parents and the school that students graduating with Division 1 score would get automatic scholarships to secondary school. Sadly this year, Hope Primary School didn’t produce any Division 1 graduates. Caesar was the only one who came really close, missing it by just one point.
Someone said, “…it seems people who deserve our tears, hardly make us cry.” Not so for Caesar. He told his story and pleaded with me to help him find a place where he could stay in order to repeat Primary 7.
He said, “I know I missed the scholarship. I worked hard to make it because I know I have no one to pay my school fees if I don’t get the scholarship. Please sir, just help me find a place to stay, I can’t stay with my Uncle’s friend anymore. I can’t succeed if I stay there. Please help me.”
I was struggling to understand his appeal. The reason I was confused was that he passed well enough to gain admission into any secondary school in Uganda. Yet, he knew that to get a free education, he needed a scholarship. I was flabbergasted when I realized that Caesar was willing to repeat the entire year, in order to get the promised scholarship. This was the first option he was considering. Then he pressed on with the second option.
“But sir, if you pay my fees for one term, just this first term in secondary school, I promise you I’ll get that school’s bursary award and you’ll not need to worry about me anymore. Please sir, give me a chance.”
I was so broken by this boy’s determination, his hopes, and his dreams. He had a clear understanding of what he needed to do to break the cycle; it caused me to excuse myself to find a place to weep. I couldn’t help myself. As I wept, I thought of many others like Caesar; bright and hardworking, but who have no money to pay the fees, so they drop out of school and give up on their dreams. I begged God, to honour Caesar’s faith and hunger as I wept there and also to provide support for me to sponsor him privately.
I called him into the headteacher’s office and in the presence of the headteacher and one of his assistants. I pledged to sponsor him for this first term, though I didn’t know where the money would come from. I challenged him to prove himself. You should have seen his face glow when I told him to go and get his result. That evening, I shared his story with my guests, Karin and Michelle. They raised his school fees on the spot.
Tears aren’t far from me. As a feeler, my emotions are stirred easily by another’s pain, grief, wounds, loss or matters of the heart that demand justice. What of you? What makes you cry?
Our tears won’t change the destiny of those for whom we shed them, but our actions can. Why not join me to give hope to a refugee child that wants to go to school today but has no one to pay for it? See our student scholarship program here or connect with me directly— firstname.lastname@example.org