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**A lump in my throat**


Over 100 children of 3 to 6 years of age, gathered together in something that should be a classroom, but looks more like a barn. An earthen floor that turns into mud when it rains. Hardly any materials to work with and far too little space to seat all pupils.


A great, enthusiastic teacher. After the children have listened to her for more than an hour, she sends them out with banana leaves, old tomato sauce cans, crumbled paper, markers, a few lumps of clay that have been used too often, and toy cars made of jerry cans.

I was thinking, “How is this going to work out? So few materials and so many children.”

But then, things start to take shape.

  • Boys are building houses with old bricks.
  • Two kids are running around with self-built cars.
  • A group of children is making balls of banana leaves and plastic.
  • Another group sitting on a mat is busy colouring and claying.
  • Girls are cooking with a few stones, using the tomato sauce cans as pans.

* A few kids play market: they buy and sell food. This food is used for the cooking. Payments are being made, naturally, using paper notes with a number on it: 4 = 400 cents and this will get you four pieces of ‘vegetables’.


Out of nowhere a happy group of singing children appears from behind the barn. In front, a groom and a bride wearing a beautiful veil, flowers in her hand. Behind them are the wedding guests, cheerfully singing and clapping. Chairs are being taken from the classroom, the wedding can begin.

The builders and cooking moms look up for a second, before proceeding with their tasks. One boy ‘takes pictures’, another is walking around with a ‘microphone’. As soon as the food is ready, the guests can start on a wonderful meal.

All the while, the teacher is walking around, stimulating, motivating and inspiring.

And me? I am standing there with a big smile on my face, a lump in my throat, tears of joy and emotion welling up.

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