And the streets of Jozi (Johannesburg) speak right into your soul
His name is Karabo and he is sixteen years old. The cold and dirty streets are his home and the shadows of the city his hiding place. Upon receiving a blanket and a cup of soup, he looked into my eyes and the pain in his heart could not be ignored. He had a story to tell and I was the one sent to listen…
He attended school before and after poor life choices, has only been living on the streets for a year…one year too long. His story is not an unfamiliar one and is shared by many others roaming the streets, but it was his eyes that looked into my soul and reminded me of what as both a Christian and a teacher I am called to do… There on a cold and windy street corner of the inner city, my inner city, I came face to face with what it means to be a light in the darkest of places.
When asked if he could be anything in the world what he would want to be, his answer was clear and direct; “An Electrical Engineer Ma’am.” Despite the challenges he now faces, despite all the pain in his heart and harbored regret, he still had a dream for his future. I told him that at sixteen years old he is still able to make that dream a reality. That a life on the streets was not the life that God had chosen for him and that he has the potential to rise above his circumstances. It may mean doing things we may not want to do, in his case it was putting his pride aside and returning home to the loving grandmother and siblings he had left behind. As the tears rolled down his face, I knew that all he needed was someone to believe in him, to remind him of his worth and lovingly steer him in the right direction. Before he left I made him promise me that he would never allow himself to give up on his dreams for God has a greater purpose and plan for his life. His promise was all he could cling to but it was a promise that I pray will sustain and offer hope.
Throughout the world there are so many stories of teachers serving as true beacons of light in their communities, rising above their adversities and giving hope and a sense of purpose to the younger generation entrusted to them. No one said that being a teacher would be easy, and let’s face it, no one enters the profession for the promising paycheck either. There has to be a deeper sense of vocation and dedication to the “bigger picture”. It is so easy to loose sight of this bigger picture when we are constantly chasing the next deadline and grading mountains of tests and assignments but it is so important for us to never loose sight of the “bigger picture”…that sometimes education extends beyond a simple grade. It is the creator of dreams, the ability to believe that all things are possible and that the sky is truly is the limit. As teachers, parents and leaders, we are the light in many a darkened place… now let your light shine 🙂
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16