It’s September. You’ve sewn name labels onto 15 items of school uniform and done battle with barefooted hordes in Clarks. Hair is trimmed, nails clipped and pencil cases packed. That’s right – it’s Back To School.
Chances are, no matter how carefully planned, the first few school runs will be challenging at best, disastrous at worst. But check out Angela from Honduras. I guarantee that her school run will make all of ours seem like a doddle!
Angela and her family live in a place known as ‘the riverbank’ in the city of San Pedro Sula, Honduras. It might sound like a luxury waterfront
development, but it’s actually a huge slum – home to 16,000 families who’ve moved from the countryside to the city in search of work.
The riverbank was never supposed to house anyone long-term. The conditions are squalid and its residents get no state support due to their status as ‘unofficial’. Nevertheless, some families have been here for 30 years. So for children like Angela’s, it’s all they know.
To get to the school, Angela and her children walk over piles of rubbish and open sewers until they reach the river. Here, Angela tucks up her skirt, puts one of her children on her back (two if she’s feeling strong enough) and wades through the dirty water to the other side. She and the other mums do this several times, depending how many children they have.
There’s a lot about Angela’s school run that’s different to the ones in this country. Ours don’t usually entail wading through a river, for a start. But there’s also a lot that’s the same…
The mothers in San Pedro Sula might be intensely poor, but they’re both immeasurably proud of their children and wholly committed to giving them the best shot at life they can. Mums like Angela go to this extreme effort each day to make sure their children arrive at school safe, dry and, against the odds, smart. They do it for love.