Poverty is more than simply the environment in which the children of AFE grow up. It seeps into their minds and hearts and grabs at them from every angle. It uses things like their appearance to tell them: from trash they came, to trash they will return. It utilizes bad habits (like coming late and skipping school if they feel like it) to keep them locked into the garbage dump.
For this reason, AFE has set strict standards for its students; so that our children appear different and set apart from the surrounding garbage-dump culture. We established these rules to develop our students into the servant-leaders we know they are destined to become. Yet, making rules is much easier than enforcing them, especially with a large staff.
Last Friday, we had an all-school assembly to review the rules, the consequences, and our new approach. Now, the responsibility of enforcement is on the teachers. There will be random classroom checks. If a student is found with a cell phone (even children from the garbage dump have cell phones today!), the student will recceive detention and the teacher will be responsible to stay after and monitor that detention. In this way, the teacher is held accountable to enforce the school rules.
The rules include how the students maintain their school (no writing on desks, no throwing garbage on the ground) and extend to how their dress and appearance. They must come to school clean, in proper uniform, with shoes on their feet, but with no makeup or piercings on their faces. They will look different, too, from the other young people of their neighborhood who begin promiscuous behavior at very young ages.
We have high hopes for this new strategy. On Sunday, five minutes before the service began; the church was full of AFE students who had arrived on time. If our strategy proves successfuly, at the least AFE´s campus will be very clean and well-maintained from all of the students´ efforts during detention. At the best, AFE´s students will respect themselves, each other, and their environment.