Yesterday afternoon Marco stopped by following the first day of a new school year. He was feeling proud because all of last year's seventh graders passed their exams to continue to eighth grade, most of them with high enough marks to get invited to boarding school-- and these lucky kids can actually go to boarding school, since Marco's organization will sponsor them until they graduate. The pass percentage is an incredible achievement, considering that the average school probably gets rates in the single digits.
Every January, Marco admits a new crop of first graders to the orphan school. As kids drop out, class sizes shrink dramatically-- an unfortunate necessity because even though the classes share the building in shifts, they operate out of a tiny old house (though they plan to start building a classroom block when the rains end). Last year Marco had two first grade classes with 25 kids each, but only 13 seventh graders.
Monday, 477 people showed up wanting space for an orphan. Marco could only accept 50. Even though most orphans around here find shelter with extended family, it's the rare guardian who has money to send the orphan to school. Sadly, this means 427 kids (in one neighborhood alone!) just lost their chance for an education.