Originally I wanted to write about it in an earlier post but I figured that my happy and good experiences of last week and the gig don’t go that well with the content of this post. To me it seems inappropriate. Thus I’ll dedicate this post to that day only.
Recently we were talking about poverty in social science classes. We talked about relative poverty, social classes and all that stuff you aren’t really interested in because it’s all about made-up cases of some random person. It’s just numbers, black ink on white paper. Graphs and diagrams.
But I had to realise that the “real” poverty – the poverty you find outside your textbook, the poverty you usually wouldn’t come in touch with simply because you were lucky enough to be born into the families in which you live – is much worse than the things written in your school book.
As some of you may already know I work in a place called The Centre. Girls whose families came to Germany from mostly Turkey, Pakistan or Lebanon can go there. We help them with their homework, do some fun stuff with them and simply let them have a good time. The majority of the families are poor or part of the “lower social classes”.
The Centre sometimes works in cooperation with the social welfare office – this is how I got my second job (as a private teacher).
The girl I’m helping with her homework is about to go to a secondary school and it’s more than obvious that she wants to learn and that she wants to be good in school. But more than anything else she wants someone to believe in her. I’ve noticed that before but on Wednesday it hit me like a bat when I realised how desperately she wants to be appreciated – just by someone. She’s turning twelve in a little more than a week.
I’ve sometimes seen her coming in with scratch marks on her face – her older brother has a “wild temper”.
I got the job because she likes me and she listens to what I say. A couple of weeks ago she said she liked coming to the Centre because it’s the only place where she can laugh.
However, for an hour we were doing some maths and then we went on with German. She didn’t have her schoolbooks with her and couldn’t remember what they were doing in class, so I improvised. She told me that she doesn’t really like reading because it sometimes gets boring. I told her that the really good books never get boring. I digged into the messy racks until I eventually found a copy of “The Neverending Story”. It’s a brilliant story and it was written by Michael Ende, a German writer (which was enough of a reason for me to make it part of the German lesson). I made her read the first pages out loud and waited if she was showing any emotions. At first she was complaining about the book being boring but as she read that the protagonist had lost his mother she got more interested in it. Eventually she admitted that “it doesn’t sound that bad”.
As we were leaving the Centre and I gave her a ride home I asked her what kind of sweets she likes the most. She didn’t want to answer. I had brought some ice-cream before as her brother was going to some festival she would have liked to got to too but which she couldn’t because the welfare office had told us to start this week with the private classes. I guess, I have never seen a child so happy and thankful for goddamn ice-cream.
I parked the car in front of a large building and followed her inside because I wanted to introduce myself to her parents. They invited me in even though I was dressed inappropriate (which I completely forgot to think about – It was a really hot day so I was wearing short jeans, which maybe isn’t the best idea when visiting a traditional turkish family).
The mother only spoke a few bits and pieces German and gesticulated that I shouldn’t talk with her but her husband.
“You are Scarlett, student from welfare office, he? Waste of money. My daughter stupid. Won’t learn, no.”
At first I thought that he maybe wanted to say “My daughter is not stupid” so I said: “No, she’s fine. She’s doing really good. She knows more than others of her age” (which is true).
“No, no. Stupid as shit.”
Meanwhile a baby-boy had crawled towards me and was playing with my shoes. “You’re son is cute”, I said because they seemed to expect me to change the topic.
“Gonna be like father. Strong”, the mother said and I just smiled and nodded politely.
“Cute”, I repeated.
“Marry?” She picked up the baby and gave me an insistent look. “Wanna marry boy”, she asked again. “Come drink coffee and marry boy!”
When no one laughed I realised that she was deadly serious.
I apologized that I couldn’t stay any longer and left as fast as I could.
After I left that part of the city I realised how much “too much” this situation had required from me.
I heard my heart breaking as I realised that this girl’s father doesn’t give a shit for his daughter.I mean seriously … if you are a parent … how can you not love your child?! Currently the idea of having kids of my own does not appeal to me at all but – what the hell?! How can you
1. Not love your child?
2. Tell him/ her that he/she is “stupid as shit”?
3. Claim that it’s waste of whatever when it helps your child to build a good future.
The German school system is a little different than for example the English. We have one kind of primary school and four different kinds of secondary school. “Hauptschule” is the easiest and with this kind of leaving cert you are not allowed to enter university (we don’t have colleges) – you attend this kind of school for 5 years. It’s kind of the lowest schoolform we have.
Her parents only allowed her to go to that kind of school even though her primary marks were good enough to go to “Gesamtschule”, which is a little harder but where you also can make a leaving cert that allows you to go to university (it’s called “Abitur”).
The reason why her parents won’t let her go to that better school is: We don’t know it. We only know Hauptschule.
If you have the Abitur you can almost become everything that you want to be. Without you’re pretty limited.
It just makes me want to cry.
I just hope that the social welfare office and the youth welfare office take enough care of the family so she doesn’t have to marry some unknown guy as soon as she’s old enough.
This is just wrong.