One of the tenets of the Mercy Beyond Borders Scholars’ Program is Compassionate Action. Each of our secondary school scholars is required to volunteer for two hours every month helping others in the community. One option is tutoring students from a local elementary school.
A few weeks ago, early on a Saturday morning, several of the MBB scholars were joined by students from a nearby school. After the session began a few more scholars and students straggled in. The last elementary school student to arrive appeared a few years older than the rest, likely as old as some of the scholars. He had a deep voice and some facial hair. The last MBB scholar to arrive was a tiny girl, probably one of our 7th graders. They seemed an unlikely match so I asked another scholar to join them.
They sat side by side on a school bench and the boy sheepishly said he’d forgotten to bring his Math textbook. The girls were undaunted, quickly took his notebook and began writing numerical problems for him to solve. They sat together, arms touching, and quietly worked for over an hour. When the session was over the scholars went on their way. I watched this student, this young man, walk around the room. He stopped before each poster displayed on the wall and read it. I could sense, even feel, his thirst for knowledge. After he’d made his way around the room he quietly approached me. I asked his name and learned that he is 15 years old and is in the 5th grade. In barely more than a whisper he asked, “Can I come here every week to get help with my lessons?” I managed to hold back the tears that came to my eyes.
The scholars in the MBB program are among the brightest students in this area. To enter the program they must have graduated at the top of their class while in elementary school. As MBB scholars their secondary school tuition is fully paid, most of their books are purchased and if they do not live in the local area they are eligible to live in one of the two boarding houses. They are truly blessed to be given this opportunity. For me it is just as important that they are also learning to be compassionate members of society. They may not know that this young man was older than them, they most likely don’t know why at 15 he is only in the 5th grade. But they do know that they helped him. And I am proud to say they did it without ridicule and with respect. This is compassionate action.