Jan 022010

Little World Community Organization, LWCO, began about two years ago in late 2007 with the survey of a small village called Sargoda in the Pujab area of Pakistan.  The idea of the survey was to explore the community needs, aspirations and commitment to change. The surveyors were organized by Aneel -more about him later- and instructed to interview every class of person in the village: young/old, rich/poor, and male/female. Little pieces of a culture are carried in every person and all must agree to make a whole.  It was a major event; no one had ever asked them anything. This village had no schools and, according to this survey, a  growing and humiliating drug problem from Afghan poppies that was resulting in crime. The respondents spoke of lives that were terrible and hopeless. Results also showed a high commitment for starting a school; their community had none. They would do anything in their power to bring it about and only needed the help for books and a building.  Educating women was preferred.  They agreed to pay the teachers with what little they had.

Students paying their teachers has been a signature of Little World Schools. The idea behind this was to create an environment where the teachers depended on the prosperity of their students and were validated by their gratitude and success. Educated women were recruited to journey in from the city. This arrangement of the poor students paying the teachers was soon contested and I wasn’t sure it would endure.  The students had little to give and didn’t realize the scale of what was required of them and the teachers wanted to be paid. At the height of this conflict over paying the teachers I sent their funding request to Aneel, the director, and told him to disperse it equally to every student. They would decide what to do with it. It worked and they each then contributed their portion and the issue never surface again.

Very little money has come from these desperately poor students to their teachers over the two years LWCO has been in operation. Remuneration has often taken the form of vegetables and milk. The students and teachers struggled together and it became a common struggle. The teacher’s commitment deepened as the students horizons and abilities expanded. The students learned quickly and gave teachers the credit. I just read a note today from a student who sees herself one day as a doctor. If you can believe it, together they solved the community drug problem but I’ll leave that for another post. There will be another post about how they are now paying their teachers and working into the night to accomplish this. They also dealt successfully with  religious leaders who tried to stop the schools from educating women and turned them into supporters. Today a majority of the women in this village attend Little World Schools in Sargoda. It all began from first asking what it was they needed and then offering to be of help: doing to another as you would have them do to you.

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