Love Is No Victory March
New start, fresh perspectives and yet some things stayed the same.
As always, on school days a woman accompanies her children on a 3km uphill journey.
I’ve watched them for five years: slim mother and two fresh-faced beginners in smart uniforms, then pregnant mom and the two young children, then mother with baby on her back and the tweenies. At 6:15, toddler beaming from the pushchair, mother and the two older children marched uphill.
That morning was a sunny, clear Highveld day—a good day for walking. But there have been days when the Gauteng storms have rolled and roared and rained. There have also been dark, finger-burning, sub-zero temperature mornings. Still they’ve marched.
Educating children is not easy. The expense of uniforms and stationery, the time to “do” homework, the packed sandwiches, school functions and sport activities, the endless forms that require details and signatures, bed on time and up on time, and getting children safely to and home from school.
Parents get children through the 12 years of schooling possibly only with the help of God and a whole lot of love.
The start of the school year is also the beginning of a different kind of journey for children—those who feel alone and abandoned by their families, their communities and the state.
Some pupils will get themselves up and to school with no parental support.
There will be no breakfast and no packed lunch, and the journey will be fraught with danger from vehicles and other people.
At school they will be shouted at, misunderstood and bullied. Unsafe classrooms, unsanitary toilets and untrustworthy adults.
They will feel neither love in their homes nor at the school. They will start each day feeling lonely and broken.
So, the start of a new school year is time for a shout-out to parents; a hallelujah, a praise the Lord, for those family members who accompany the developing minds with love and commitment.
To the mother who walks her daily 3km journey I’m reminded that sometimes, in the words of Leonard Cohen: “Love is not a victory march; it’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah…”
Keep going mother. Hallelujah! For those of us who have had the privilege of education…Hallelujah!
Imelda Diouf is the director of the Sekwele Family Strengthening Programme (www.sekwele.org).