‘Baraka what would you like to be when you grow up?’ I asked a 6-year old wide eyed boy who was constantly hanging about. An empty look is all I got in response. A look that said ‘what do you mean what I want to be when I grow up? I will do what my farther does – I will be a beach boy or I will be a man without a job like the others.’ Okay so I might be reading too much into the blank face, but Baraka isn’t alone. There are many like him who have no idea of the choices, the opportunities and the potential avenues to a potentially better future. I know exactly what I wanted to be when I was six. I was going to be a Ballerina for the Russian ballet (never happened, but not for luck of trying). What did you want to be?
Fast forward four years and Baraka is still hanging around our libraries and not just hanging. He is an avid reader and an active learner. So now when you ask him the same question he has a different answer every time. This month he will be a welder so he can help us build our libraries (sweet). Last month it was a teacher so he can help his brother and sister learn (thoughtful). Next month it might be a marine biologist for all we know (imaginative).
But what is more impressive than Baraka’s choices is his understanding of what he has to do in order to achieve it. He knows he has to go to school and actually learn, pay attention and do well at exams. He understands that his parents have the burden of paying for his education and he is very appreciative and he also realises that some practical experience is good to have. Now, that is a lot of understanding for a fourteen year old.
I am so proud of how Baraka’s ability to construct a logical argument has grown. How his understanding of cause and effect developed and how he applies that knowledge to his learning. And hopefully future employment.