by Sr. Chinyene Lumenze MMM England 18.07.2022
A young man once accompanied his dad to see a friend called James. When dad and son arrived at James’ home, they exchanged greetings. James stooped to the boy’s level and said, “Hello, I’m James” The little boy responded with a “hello, I am Marcus” Then James said, I am a constructor. And to the boy, he asked, “What do you do?”. The little boy said, “I go to school.” James gave him a warm smile and said, “Do that well,” and the little boy said, “Sure.”
The above story reveals the power of education, evidenced in confidence expressed by the little boy. Education, they say, is power. Educate a child, and you have educated a nation. Education for me is not limited to classroom learning and being taught but to how the knowledge is applied. A formal education without good family values that spring from informal education in the family may not be powerful.
Coming to the University of Derby to study child and family health and wellbeing has set me on a journey of self-discovery. I remember our first day in class; we were given a reflective task to focus on the experience that made us build confidence and trust in ourselves and the one that hurt us most and probably made us feel empty and still sad. As we returned to class with the task, everyone, one at a time, shared their experience. While doing so, feelings were evoked, people sobbed and mourned, and the tutor went quiet and still and allowed the sobbing to go on. The life stories were sad; everyone had a burden to let go of. It was strange until it got to my turn to share my reflection. As I opened my mouth to speak, what came out was a shaky voice with eyes filled with tears that made it impossible to read. Memories of the last days with my mom streamed through me. I felt empty and sad, and like others, it was difficult to stop the tears. We were all in the same boat. ‘Was this a program for grieving people?’ I wondered.
Missed opportunities to love, missed opportunities to learn, missed opportunities to forgive and be forgiven, the avoidable mistakes choices we made. This simple task revealed how vulnerable and weak we all were, ready to embark on a journey of self-transformation. Reflecting today, this had to happen to give way to the journey of self-discovery and becoming. Engaging in conscious, reflective practice helped us process our different journeys to engage better in the program and prepared us for child and family health and wellbeing practice.
Somehow, blames were let go. We realised that our parents and loved ones did what they did ignorantly. Some of their well-intentioned decisions for us affected us. From this study, we understand that the family is the first informal learning institution where people learn values that form character and empower people to adapt better to a formal learning environment. However, being impacted by so many variables, parenting sometimes becomes stifling and a nightmare.
With this knowledge, we seek to support the ever-well-intentioned families and parents who may be experiencing negative influences that hamper their ability to parent. We live in a society where diversity in various forms and different ideologies exists, and children in today’s diverse world can be impressionable. These diversities influence and shape our identity, thoughts, and actions. There is a yearning for peace and good life in many societies today.
We identify the significant role that the family plays in establishing this peace and orderliness. Should the family be supported, every child brought forth into this world will be well nurtured, loved, and shaped into individuals who feel a sense of purpose and responsibility not only for their growth and development but also for those around them and society.
Education well engaged connects us to who we are and who we want to become. The best gift to give to a child is the gift of family and education so that, like the little boy Marcus, they too can proudly and confidently say, I go to school! As a student at every stage of my life, the learning I receive reactivates the values that hold the foundation of who I am becoming today.
The values I have integrated and personalised from my family and as a missionary with the Medical Missionaries of Mary sustain me. However, I still encounter conflicting ideas that challenge my identity and values. Nevertheless, the values I have come to believe are helping me manage better today.