Today we visited Bishop Lavis High located on Cape Flats, an area of extreme poverty, high drug use, high crime and rampant gang activity. While the school facilities are old and in some cases crumbling, this place is an oasis in the middle of a very difficult place to live and grow up. From the time an infant is born to in many cases an unwed mother, that child has a very small chance of escaping violence or breaking the cycle of poverty seen everywhere in this area. Schools such as Bishop Lavis are staffed by caring, compassionate people who give these kids the parental love and attention mostly absent elsewhere in their lives. The fact that some of these kids have worked hard won scholarships gone to college and escaped “The Flats” is testimony to what is possible.
We had a great conversation with Principal Peter Sonn and Cape Einstein’s Guardian Glenda Peterson. We asked what else we could or should be doing to support the learners in our “Cape Einsteins” program.
Two areas were suggested:
1. Expose more learners to the CE camps by allowing each CE to bring a “buddy” to camp. 2. Have each CE organize a “study group”. These kids normally are the highest achievers and by organizing a study group they as well as others in the group benefit. Both were good ideas and we will certainly discuss them at our next leadership meeting. In our conversation I wondered out loud if it would be possible/prudent to incent some of the brightest to go to better schools surrounded by higher achievers with a greater chance of escaping the poverty and violence. Mr. Sonn unequivocally stated that it was important to keep those kids at Bishop Lavis inorder to influence more kids to do better and improve their community. While rationally “I get it”, I just wonder if there are enough kids with the stamina to go against the tide and not get worn down from the constant barrage of drugs, gangs and violence at their doorstep every day. Seeing all this I’m grateful for all that I have and for the help I received along the way.This only energizes us to do more!