One signature, every child’s future in countries hit by disease, war and poverty

Up for School or #upforschool campaign

By Yei Regina Mondeh, an A World at School Global Youth Ambassador from Sierra Leone

The stories of Sierra Leone’s decade-long war echo in the chronicles of the country’s history – but the terror of the 2014 Ebola scourge might change that.

In the heart of the capital Freetown, more lives are lost than made each day as recent health reports have proved. Those departed from our terrestrial ball rest in heavens unknown. But the pain their surviving loved ones bear is inflicting. Women are being widowed and they grieve in pain.

Men lose their spouses and forget Earth is a place they can call home. But when a child is faced with the loss of both parents or a close family member, it is torture on a forming brain.

This was the case of 13-year-old Rachael Mansaray, a prep 6 pupil of the Holy Trinity School in the centre of Freetown, which a few colleagues and I visited.

Buzzing with joy and sharing a radiant smile in appreciation for the gifts she had received, Rachael told me how she wanted to become a lawyer. I was captured by her intelligence and inspired by her beautiful aspirations. Sadly this friendly rapport was short-lived as I went on to ask Rachael how Ebola has affected her personally.

She stared at me in silence for a minute and I saw eyes become cloudy. “My brother died of Ebola,” she forced out of shaky lips.

In no time, the contagious smile had been replaced with compelling tears. Torture! On a child’s forming brain.

At this point I wished I had spoken more about her dreams and never asked her that question. I paused for a while trying to avoid any further emotional aggravating questions. Finally I asked her “what are you looking forward to in the future?”

Wiping her tears away with the back of her hands the first words she spoke to me were: “I want to come back to school so I can grow up and be a lawyer. I want to be promoted to the next class and I miss my friends at school.” I saw that education was her ray of hope.

Rachael is not alone; there are millions of girls out there who see education as their ray of hope, their way out, their route to success and privilege. But in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, the countries most affected by Ebola, and other countries around the world where girls suffer poverty, war, famine, sickness and child abuse, their vision for life is as unsteady as the dangling pendulum on grandfather’s clock.

How do we restore their hope? How do we secure their future? How do we rebuild their faith? And how do we maximise their potential?

Just one more signature, your signature can do all that.

Sign up for the #UpForSchool Petition today so that every child will can the opportunity of being educated and achieving their dreams.

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