What does freedom mean when you live in poverty?
Last month in Ghana I heard how head teachers valued our programme School for Life and how it helped children learn to read and write and do sums. The incredible commitment of the head teachers to their pupils is demonstrated by one head teacher, Mr Saaku, who told me he had just returned from one of the local villager's homes.
A girl of seven had been off school for two days. Mr Saaku takes a personal interest in all the children and wanted to know why. He had left school to track her down. When he found the found girl at home, she had explained that she had no shoes and felt embarrassed to come to school without them. He was very clear with her, ‘You always have to come to school with or without shoes.’ So now she was back at school and for the moment without shoes. He said he was going back to her home after school to talk to her parents about buying shoes for her.
Mr Saaku has a deep commitment to teaching the young people in his charge how to read and write because that’s the best escape route for them, their community and even he says, for Ghana, from crippling poverty.
These are day-to-day stories of people in the north of Ghana. It is literally a struggle to get to school. But the head teachers like Mr Saaku understand that freedom from poverty is best achieved thorough an education. You and I know that ensuring those children an education gives them a real chance to escape poverty, for good.
On Friday night as we replay our collective liberation, re-teaching the lessons of freedom and justice to our families, we move from our particular story to a universal hope. A hope that Others in the world find freedom in the coming year.