A language is a pillar of a nation’s culture. It can provide a link back through history and a view of the future. Protecting a language from dying off like so many others is not a natural act. People need to make a conscious effort to teach their children the language, normally though the schools. No where is this shown better than in Armenia. Throughout elementary school students are taught to respect and love the Armenian language. A pair of poems they learn are translated below.
Keep it [Armenian language] high and pure as the sacred snow of Ararat is,
Keep it close to your heart as you remember your grandfathers’ memories…
Even if it happens so that you forget your mother,
You should never forget your mother language
Our caravan would have lost his way, we would have been lost, if we did not have our language to light for us in the night ways. Thus, let us glorify and burnish as a sword, so that the Armenian language, always bright, could tinkle under the sun
A young man about seventeen or eighteen years old related his life story at an NGO collaboration meeting. At points it’s sad, and at others it shows how quality programming can truly help a young person’s life.
Our young person was born in a small village but his family moved to Kampala. There he stayed until he was five and his father sent the boy and mother back to the village while he stayed in Kampala to work. He stayed with his uncle while his father sent money although never visited. His mother became a housekeeper for a local church which provided them a house to live. In a nation where parent’s often do not take their children seriously enough, our boy’s father was able to send enough money back home to allow him to finish primary school, but not attend secondary because of the price increases between the levels.
Since he was unable to go to school and too young for a job, he started to come to the street with other boys his age. It was hard for him to get access to food or clothing and his parents were unable to help much. His father was laid off from his job and spent more time looking for piecemeal work than actually working and his mother was supporting his younger sister. So he stayed on the street for a few months until another street youth invited him to visit CRO where they can are provided some food and places for washing themselves and their clothes. He spent nine months in the program, coming every day and helping with the chores during the day, and returning to the street at night. One day the CRO headmistress offered the boy a place at the small halfway house they run. He spent three months there then headed home to see his mom and sister.
Due to his good behavior and responsible nature, CRO offered to pay his school fees and he was able to start secondary school. Another organization, Uganda Children Center offered to also help with the fees. Things were going well for two terms. He was in a boarding school. He had a place to stay, was fed regularly, and was doing well in his studies. And then his mother fell sick.
He was forced to leave school to take care of his mother. Eventually she ended up in a hospital for a week but unfortunately passed away. The church found a new housekeeper which forced the boy and his sister out into the streets. Him and his sister went back to the NGO that was taking care of him, but due to the finicky nature of NGO funding, his spot was given another youth and he had no relatives to help him, so he went back to CRO.
He was able to convince CRO to take his sister into an orphanage in a nearby village instead of himself and find funds for her schooling instead of his. This happened approximately six months go. He still goes to CRO every day because he likes the people and the program, and just recently CRO was able to find a sponsor in America to send him back to secondary school. This sponsor also wants to help him go through vocational school. Our boy wants to be a caterer, cooking and serving food at all sorts of fancy parties and get togethers. In a nation with a hundred thousand college graduates trying to fill ten thousand spots a year, learning a trade often has a more immediate payoff. And with a younger sister to care for, an immediate payoff is what he needs.