Hello, good morning, and welcome back to another exciting edition of the Maseno Minute. From all of us here at TLC, we hope you have had a good weekend, and we hope you are able to come back to whatever your version of “the office” is as a refreshed and revitalized human being, ready to make your corner of the world the best it can possibly be. Maybe with the help of a few cups of coffee.
This week, the Maseno Minute is taking you back to Maseno, Kenya to introduce you to Vincent. Vincent, who usually goes by “Teddy” is in the eighth grade. In the U.S., the eighth grade is an exciting year. As an eighth grader, you are finally at the top of the food chain, but you also know that your power will soon be subverted in the near future when you enter high-school—it’s a transition phase. In Kenya, however, eighth graders are under a lot more pressure, as each student is given an exam at the end of the eighth grade that determines where he or she will go to high school. High schools are extremely important, as they typically determine the quality of the college the students will be accepted into. Unlike exams given in the U.S. such as the SAT, ACT, or GRE, students in Kenya get only one opportunity to take these exams, and if they do not pass, they do not have the opportunity to continue their educations.
Because of the impact this exam will have, Teddy—like many Kenyan eighth graders—will be spending 10-11 hours 6 days/week studying. Closer to the time of the exam, children in other grades will stay home from school so as not to distract the eighth graders from their studies, and churches will stay open all day every day so parents can pray for their children. While this may seem extreme, people in Kenya realize how important education is, and they don’t take educational opportunities for granted. This is a mindset the U.S. could stand to learn from.
When Teddy is not studying—and even when he is—he is an amazing young adult. Recently, TLC took Teddy shopping and, when allowed to pick out his own outfit, Teddy chose bright red skinny jeans. He likes to wear these pants with a popped-collar-polo, sleeves rolled up to his elbows. We admire Teddy’s confidence, and we are already afraid of all the girls he will win over with his loud and proud style.
Teddy is also a skilled painter. While doing repairs on one of our previous buildings, Teddy assisted with the majority of the painting. He was careful and pragmatic, not spilling a single drop of yellow wall paint onto the red floors.
One day, Teddy wants to be a pilot, though he isn’t sure where he wants to fly to first. On a recent Jemo House field trip to Nairobi that included pizza, giraffes, and a hotel with a swimming pool, Teddy’s favorite part of the whole trip was the flight.
And that puts the world into perspective a little.
Personally, I don’t usually look forward to the ‘flight’ part of a trip; in the U.S., flights are usually seen as a necessary inconvenience with not enough leg room and a dismal array of snack choices. But for Teddy, the flight was the best part of his whole trip. It was new and exciting, and a glimpse of what his future could be, if that’s what he chooses.
This week, Too Little Children challenges you to live a little more like Teddy: be nice to people—say please and thank you and mean it; wear your version of red pants and a popped-collar-polo, confident in the knowledge that you look fabulous and no one can take that away from you; and treat the plane rides in your week—the banal and boring “necessary inconveniences” as something special. Because your life is special, especially in the ordinary.
From all of us here at TLC, we hope you have a great week filled with red pants, popped collars, and an extra-long lunch break on Wednesday. Because that is a really good base for a really good life.