The Power of Emotion

Ngalalya – Lunch Time3

“When we treat people merely as they are, they will remain as they are. When we treat them as if they were what they should be, they will become what they should be.” –

Thomas S. Monson

Meeting children from underserved communities can be a deeply impactful experience that stirs a wide range of emotions. These encounters have the power to challenge your perspective, evoke empathy, and spark a desire to make a meaningful change.

As I engage more with the communities we serve, particularly the young leaners in Amara supported primary schools, I witness firsthand the stark realities of poverty – inadequate access to education, healthcare, nutrition, and often, even basic amenities like clean water and sanitation. Seeing children who should be embracing childhood joys and educational opportunities instead grappling with the burdens of survival and family responsibilities is undeniably heartbreaking.

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The impact of poverty on young children extends far beyond their present circumstances and shapes their perception of the world and inevitably influences their future trajectory. Poverty among these vulnerable individuals not only imposes immediate hardships but also instills a lens through which they perceive themselves and their surroundings.

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However, amidst these adversities, the resilience displayed by these young individuals is nothing short of inspiring, albeit accompanied by a profound sense of sadness for the injustices they endure at such a tender age. Their strength and determination to get an education despite the challenges they face often inspires admiration and humility. Interacting with these bright young minds can serve as a poignant reminder of the immense potential lying within each child, regardless of their circumstances.

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In recent weeks, our visits to primary and secondary schools we support have heightened my awareness of my own privilege and the many amenities I often take for granted, such as access to quality education, healthcare, and a safe place to call home. This realization inevitably evokes feelings of guilt or discomfort, prompting introspection about my role in addressing systemic inequalities.

It is natural to be deeply affected by these experiences, and to feel a mix of emotions – empathy for their suffering, anger at the injustice of their circumstances, and admiration for their strength and perseverance.

Each visit serves as a valuable learning experience for me. I’m learning the importance of approaching these interactions with sensitivity, humility, and a willingness to listen and learn.

Despite visiting the same schools repeatedly, each visit is unique, with individual children often standing out and captivating us with their endearing gestures or amusing antics. I, personally, tend to find a favorite in every school. It could be the smallest of gestures, like coming to touch my hair or posing for a photo while making a funny face that I find the most endearing. Making those unexpected connections with the learners are moments to be treasured.

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My encounters with the children and, sometimes the young adults we support with college scholarships leaves me with many conflicting emotions. The older students, when they narrate their struggles to survive, or how they are left raising younger siblings leaves me feeling very inadequate. Amara is different in how we engage with communities. We do not just provide support from afar; instead, we actively engage with the students, building relationships, understanding their unique backgrounds, and witnessing their development and advancement firsthand.

Some say I wear my heart on my sleeve, and perhaps I do. For those of you who have experienced grief or personal struggles, you will understand how this reshapes and molds the way you relate to the world. Grief heightens your sensitivity to the struggles of others. For me, this transformation became starkly apparent in the shadow of underserved communities, where the innocence of youth collides with the harsh realities of poverty and neglect. The plight of young children strikes a chord within me, stirring a tumultuous mix of emotions that defy easy categorization.

Intertwined with this sadness is hope brought on by the spirit of resilience that shines brightly in the eyes of these young children who despite facing adversity, refuse to let their circumstances dampen their spirits.

Their joy persists, evident in the simplest of pleasures, like kicking a ball around a dusty field, sometimes without shoes. The prospect of visitors to their school creates excitement, sparking curiosity that ignites contagious laughter as they eagerly follow you, eager to engage and connect. Their gratitude upon receiving gifts of stationery, which they can hardly believe are meant for them alone, brightens their young faces as they soak in the moment. The gift of a new uniform suddenly instills in them a sense of pride and confidence, making them stand taller than before. In their innocent eyes, I see dreams too big for their current circumstances, and it can be frustrating to know that their potential is hindered by factors beyond their control.

Yet, for all the inspiration they offer, their struggles weigh heavily on, not just me, but all of us on the Amara team. It is a burden borne not out of obligation, but out of a deep-seated empathy—a recognition of our shared humanity.

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Encounters with these young minds fuel a resolute determination to advocate for change, to level the playing field, and to provide them with the tools and opportunities they need to thrive. While the emotional toll can be heavy, it pales in comparison to the impact of empowering these students to defy the odds stacked against them. In their resilience lies the promise of a brighter tomorrow, driving our commitment to champion their cause with unwavering dedication.


Article by Theresa Pereira

Theresa started working with Amara Charitable Trust in May 2022 and her experiences with the communities we serve inspires her blogs posts. Everyday day brings new life lessons which are cherished and accepted with gratitude.

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