Connect with us
Seeking a bright future for children

Students at a high school in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 16, 2011. (Christian Fuchs — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA)
Thursday, July 14, 2011

(Washington, D.C.) July 14, 2011 — Ester and her family fled the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo eight years ago and eventually migrated to Johannesburg. Her three children, 11, eight and five, are now attending a private school in South Africa after encountering endless difficulties at public schools. The children have hemophilia, a bleeding disorder that slows the blood clotting process. 

People with hemophilia experience prolonged bleeding or oozing following an injury, surgery, or having a tooth pulled. In some people with the disorder, heavy bleeding occurs after minor trauma — imagine an active child on a playground — or even in the absence of injury (spontaneous bleeding). 

Ester shared her story with us from the JRS offices in Johannesburg:

"We need to see a future through our children. It’s like if they don’t get it [education], we are more lost than ever.

"If you are not a refugee, you can’t understand how it feels! Having children who can attend school is like hope coming back, and JRS is giving us that hope. We are so grateful for that. My children have a bleeding disorder, hemophillia, they used to bleed all the time. It was difficult for them to attend public school because blood, you know, people think blood is not safe, and the school was always complaining. 

"One school chased them [kicked them out] they said, 'we are done with that blood, seeing blood everyday.’ I could not do anything, so I came to JRS, crying to them, to help me. Because I’m a refugee, I don’t have a job, how can I afford special school? I explained my problem, I brought the medical reports. [JRS] accepted my children, they are paying for their school. 

"I can hope that my children, they can see tomorrow, their future before them. They can attend school like other children. Otherwise they would be home and sitting idle,  without hope again, and that will kill me. So I’m grateful for JRS, thank you for the assistance. JRS pays for the school fees, and they give us stationary [notebooks, pencils, etc.]

"The school is good because when the children are bleeding and they [the school] can’t cope they call the ambulance, they call the hospital. But in the meantime they know the first care [to provide].

"My kids are doing well in school, I feel happy. At school [other kids] don’t know they are refugees, they are students like others. So I’m happy. Private schools are for rich people, not refugees, but my children are there. I’m happy, thank you JRS."