Today the sun was shining brightly although temperature is below 10 degrees. I took a longer route for my morning jog to let the sun warm up my cheek. The wind chill is still painful as it breezed through my face. The fallen leaves have dried up and covered most of the footpath. It was a good day to jog…well every day has been a good day to jog; I just could not have enough of the serenity of this place especially in the morning. I was up since 4 am so by sunrise (around 6 am) I was ready to go. On the lazy day I would leave around 7 am. The best thing to be out in the morning is to see the small children going to school in groups. You would recognise them from afar because they wore a chiming bells. They are small (as young as 7-8 years old) children walking to the nearby school; and the school is a good 30-minutes walk from their place. It is quite far especially for the young ones but that’s how they train them physically. No one is allowed to send the children by car; the older children would ride their bicycles as the school is farther away. No yellow school bus to be seen either only the kindergarten kids ride a special bus to their place.
Along the road everyone was greeting the kids as the farmers were already out to attend their vegetables lot. I was astonished as the whole community seems to take care of these children and ensure their safety no matter how young they are. The journey back from school was a sad scene for me, at least. By 3pm they would finish and started to walk home. It was the afternoon and some were tired. They walked slowly and got distracted easily by the butterflies or whatever is there in the bush. So you would see a few of them here and there along the road. Occasionally the head teacher came by and gave a few words; so they hurried home. I just could not imagine what will happen in the winter; would they walk to school as usual??
Then the rain came and still the small kids walked in their groups to school. There are a few adults accompanied them to ensure their safe journey. We also let our children walk to school but there is no collective effort from the community to walk along and safeguard the smaller ones. That’s why I was so astonished with this situation. So much so I waited one day to take their pictures. But I shouldn’t have done so. Apparently, the kids got scared and reported to the school’s headmistress. The adults also reported that there was a man trying to scare the children. WTF?! I was a criminal now for taking the pictures; like someone that would harm and hurt the children. Later the next day I was summoned to the school.My sensei accompanied me to the school and explained the situation. I am a foreigner and did not know that ….bla bla bla. Well I dont blame them that’s how serious they are to protect the children. The school, the community and everyone in the surrounding area stand together to make sure the safety of their children. Don’t you feel safe to let your children go walking for half an hour knowing that she will be looked after so well ? well we all do. I apologized and promised won’t do anything like that anymore…feeling guilty for something I was completely thought to be okay. I also have to promise not to publish “identifiable photos” of the children. Now I understand the worry and we should be worried like that also and not to publish any photos as we like. A lot of things that we can learn from this situation; they are common sense but we seem to take them for granted. Our school children face the danger every time they go to school and as a community we still fail to address the problem and find some kind of viable solution.
As the winter is here, the children have finally got to ride a bus to the school.