This article was originally published in the October 2017 edition of ITMI Monthly.
Yonela pressed her fingertips into the corners of her eyes. She ran them across her dark eyebrows and shook her head in fatigue and frustration.
From the front of the South African high school classroom, her algebra teacher was explaining a complicated concept in Afrikaans, Yonela's third language. At home, Yonela speaks Xhosa and English.
Yonela was desperately trying to keep up and understand the complicated concepts.
Truly internalizing the concepts taught in her third language at the same pace as other students learning in their first language had been tough her entire school career.
Yonela has seen first hand the importance of passing her classes. Like so many others in Stone Hill, her two older sisters had both been unable to pass their grade level exams. They ended up dropping out of school.
ITMI's Cindi Parris with Yonela and her sisters in front of their Stone Hill dwelling.
Now they are both single moms, living with their own mother who worked long hours at a factory. The entire family survives on that one income.
One of Yonela’s sisters has been looking for work for awhile. Lacking basic skills, she is more or less unemployable and the prospects of work seem grim.
In the hopelessness and survival-mode of the impoverished informal settlement of Stone Hill, South Africa, it’s rare to find youth who are conscious about their future.
Yonela loves children and dreams of being a social worker. She’ll have to go to University to do so, and she can’t do that unless she graduates from high school.
The school bell rang, indicating Yonela’s algebra class was over. She sighed. She knew she didn’t understand enough to complete her homework that evening. She knew it would be a long, tiring night.
Learning Presents Challenges Beyond Just Completing Homework for Impoverished Youth
Later that evening, Yonela sat cross-legged, cushioned from the mud floor of the tin shack she shares with her mother, four siblings, and a couple of her nieces and nephews by a mattress.
Just recently, her city provided electricity for the informal settlement where her family’s shack squatted, so she could at least see the algebra problems she was attempting to do in her lap after nightfall.
Her homework paper was thinned in several areas from erasing repeatedly, but she sighed and erased again. She’d been stuck on that problem for close to an hour.
Every Saturday morning for the past 2 months, Yonela meets “Mama Cindi” at the Stone Hill Cmmunity Center ITMI helped Charl van Wyk and team build, for tutoring.
The center is three large shipping containers placed in a U-shape with a covered courtyard, built through the efforts of a group of believers who contribute to the increased flourishing of Stone Hill on a regular basis in various ways, and in partnership with ITMI.
The Stone Hill ministry and community center.
Cindi tutors Yonela and others who need help every Saturday morning.
Her marks in math showed minor improvement since receiving the help. But, realistically, these students need help every day.
ITMI’s Mark and Cindi Parris have launched an initiative to help break the cycle of generational poverty for youth like Yonela by:
- offering tutoring in English every day after school and Saturday morning
- offering tutoring to 100 to 150 learners each week
- offering tutoring to students from both Stone Hill and Morning Star, a similar community nearby
- offering quality grade 1-12 lessons in Math, Science, Business and English
- offering lessons in an individualized sequential order
To accomplish all this, Mark and Cindi would like to purchase something called “school-in-a-box.” School-in-a-Box includes a full curriculum for grades 1-12, 25 modern electronic tablets and all the accessories to make it work.
School in a Box includes 25 modern tablets, accessories, a full 1-12 curriculum and licensing.
In other communities where this simple solution is being used, the students’ grades have improved dramatically, allowing them to pass their respective grades.
The recently funded Early Childhood Development Center in Stone Hill will provide the perfect facility for the tutoring center when its construction is complete later this year.
The one-time cost for school-in-a-box is $6,702.37. There will also be an ongoing monthly cost of $311.50 for technical support and curriculum licensing.
We are prayerfully looking for 25 people to give a one-time gift of $269 - the cost of one tablet and software. Your gift of $269 could change the future and break the cycle of generational poverty for countless learners!
This changes the path of countless young lives - permanently. It is a tangible way to offer hope, to demonstrate the value their Father and Creator puts on each of these young lives.
Yonela’s future is still a question mark. Will she pass high school and serve children in her community or will she follow in her sisters’ footsteps?
Will you pray with us for Yonela and the youth of Stone Hill and Morning Star in South Africa?
About the Authors
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 4 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.