There are many children in Africa who cannot go to school and get an education, because they cannot afford it. You are getting it free here in Barbados; so take advantage of it.
This was the important message Kenyan Sandra Ochieng-Springer had for students of Good Shepherd Primary School as they celebrated African Awareness Day.
Ochieng-Springer, who has made Barbados her home for the last ten years, was speaking to the students about the various aspects of her country, including its culture, infrastructure and people, when she made the pivotal point that due to financial difficulties, many students could not go to school because their parents just could not send them.
“I feel that sometimes when people get things over a period of time, they just become complacent and they take it for granted. I am not saying that everybody in Africa doesn’t get these opportunities, but because of the size that it has, not everyone gets to have the opportunity.
“I am encouraging the little children to recognize what they have and take advantage of it because a lot of people would like to have what they have and they don’t have it,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Kenyan also urged the young charges to have an appreciation for the African continent, from which their black ancestors came.
“I don’t want to downplay the fact that you are Caribbean people and you have your own culture and things that you have developed over time that you should be proud of.
“But I mean to get here, you came from somewhere, and there are persons that went through a lot for you to build on the culture that you have. If you have an appreciation for where you come from, you will better appreciate where you are at now and where you want to go.”
The students were excited and expressed keen interest when the Kenyan showed them various artefacts from Africa, including a wooden water bottle, a mat used to sit on and eat and a wrap. She also answered questions from students, which included what school she attended in Kenya, and why some Africans ate various foods with their hands, among others.
Meanwhile, Karen Lynch, one of the teachers responsible for planning the activity at the school, told Barbados TODAY that this was the first year the school had hosted it, out of the need for students to be exposed to their African heritage and culture. She said she believed that as Barbados, like other parts of the world, enjoyed the luxury of modern day living, “we are forgetting our past”.
Nevertheless, she said the students’ response to the activity which coincided with Black History Month was delightful as majority of the population were dressed in African clothing. The students were also exposed to various other presentations about Africa from Barbadians who have visited or have a special interest in the continent.
“It is important to remember your past and to know who you are so we decided that it was important to reintroduce the students to aspects of African life,” Lynch said.