This year, for my Inequality Challenge, I will be wearing a primary school uniform for a week.
My objective in dressing like a school child is to reflect on how children learn moral values and develop character. Having missed time in school while on the streets, many of the bigger children feel too old to be studying in the same class with the young ones. This could lead to them dropping out of school when they see how hard going back will be.
As I put on the uniform with them, I hope it will help them realise they can look to their future through education no matter how big they are. I will share a sense of empathy with them as I feel it is in daily life while in a common attire (school uniform) but only welcomed for people of a certain size and age. As I share about my challenge, I believe I will influence, inspire and build esteem/ ability to adapt to any situation, especially in school, to help the children live a learning life of no regrets.
If you would like to support the challenge, please take a look at our fundraising page.
Starting my challenge
The reaction to me being in school uniform was so surprising! The children were all asking why I looked like that. Some staff at the Drop In Centre were asking what had gone wrong with me! However, the children bought me a bottle of soda in the name of bringing me close and welcoming me into the class. I really felt good and loved by the children as they appreciated the challenge I had chosen.
When I went to a primary school where we support some children, one teacher shouted at me! However, later, one teacher that knew me was smiling and laughing.
When it came to class, most children lost concentration and began asking about what I was doing? However, when I gave my speech most of them wanted to be like me. Two of the boys from S.A.L.V.E. were actually speechless! They said, ‘Uncle, what is the problem? Have you come to register for primary 7 with us?’
The children told me what they learnt from my joining them in class as a big man was that even if someone is big for a given class, one should not look at what people are saying, but look to the future, and education has no limit.
My highlight of the day has to be when a big girl at school shared her experience of when she had just joined the school. My challenge inspired her to be open. Most children were laughing at her and she almost dropped out, but because she looked at herself as a role model for her young sister she felt she had to be resilient and carry on. She even cried when she shared this story, and I spent some time with her afterwards helping her to process her challenges. She is now in Primary 7 and so happy that she stayed in school and ready to take her national exams this year.
I hope my challenge will give hope and courage to more children like her that their struggles are noticed and cared about by others and we are so proud of them.
Smart School Boy Solo:
Today was so good and the children were so welcoming. Their reaction today was with very many comments, “this week uncle wants to look like us,” and, “he is smart” but they were laughing all the time. Later we went out for games, it was so nice that I felt the attachment they had towards me. They even were not calling me uncle, but “student solo” and they were all carrying me and jumping on me.
When it came to class I was acting like them and later when I got my book and pencil to write all were so happy and shouting “eeeehh.. Uncle solo” and all came close to see what I was writing. I felt a bit small when they were shouting and laughing at me, but later on one of them stated, “but uncle is challenging us to always be writing something whenever they are teaching us”. That is when now I used this chance to share with them a message on how they can relate with other big children when in class and not to make them feel small because they love to learn.
You’ve got swag
My day was so so good. When I reached the S.A.L.V.E. land everyone was so surprised! The children were saying “uncle solo is from school” and staffs were saying “uncle we like your new swag”.
When it came to class time I was so happy to be invited to join as a student and the children were ready to become the teachers. They wanted me to feel too big in the class and also it gave them confidence to be the ones to teach me. I learnt a lot from their class.
It was so nice that after the class the children were following me around and wanted to be close to me because I looked like them in my school uniform. It made me feel good to make them happy.
My conclusion from my challenge is the more you come close to other children and show you care for them, the more you get used and even forget you are big.
It was so challenging in the first days everyone was laughing at me and I felt small about it. But what I learnt the more you are free not thinking about your big age in a given class, the more you get to attract more friends who want to be close to you to help you as you help them too.
I hope my challenge will have helped more children and adults understand it’s ok to love education no matter what your age and we should support that and not make people feel small.