About two years ago, I got a chance to chat with some guidance counsellors while at a university seminar geared towards highschool students. During breaks, we would form a huddle and talk about the challenges facing our teens and how these challenges can hinder their academic growth, especially when matriculating to a university.
Some of the first-hand stories they shared were very alarming and sad; most centred around the psychological effects of being in an impoverished situation, as well as living with a disease like sickle cell. It was clear that more light needed to be shone on these issues, with the hope of informing and sensitising others. All this has given birth to the Above It All series which focuses on youth who have succeeded, despite going through extenuating circumstances.
Our colloquial motto, ‘Wi lickle but wi tallawah’, can be applied to so many aspects of our lives, and the persons in this series exemplify this concept. For them, life has not been a fairy tale filled with happy endings in each chapter. Instead, it has been a constant trial where their ability to survive is always being tested. In the end, though, it paints an obvious picture that determination and a strong support from competent and caring persons can combat the hardest challenges. Without these components, many of these persons would have been stuck in the abyss of failure, but they refused to accept defeat as their destiny.
I hope when their stories are read, we become more sensitive to the issues our youth are facing and find channels to support and encourage them. From the outside, it’s easy to categorise someone as ‘stupid’ or ‘worthless’ without understanding what that person is going though. For example, it can be an uphill battle to show up to school, much less learn. For this reason, we must become more constructive in our approach to each other, with the aim to build and not destroy. We must find a way to put aside narrow-minded points of view. Without a doubt, a caring heart and an informed mind can help us to accomplish this.