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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Africa (03/05/09)

TITLE: Hope's Dream
By Rachel Rudd


Hope gazed at the sun reflecting off the distant mountains. The same sun gathered drops of sweat on her forehead and raced them down her cheeks. Her hair curled around her sweaty temples and shined in the setting sun.

”Hope?” her Grandmother called from inside the pieced together metal shack. “Don’t sit in the sun all day. Come inside where it’s cooler.”

Hope gathered her beads and went inside to the dim interior of her home. “Grandma?’” she asked, “When can I go to school? Every time Veronica passes by here, she always looks like she has something to do and she doesn’t have to sit inside making beads. She told me that she can read her own stories and they even give her books to take home and read! “

Grandma wiped her brow with the colored handkerchief from her lap. Then she took Hope’s hand in her own wrinkled palms. “I know how much you want to learn, sweetie, and I hope someday you will, but we only have money for a little bit of cornmeal to make ugali each day. How can we afford to send you to school?”

Hope sighed and leaned on her Grandma’s knee. “Will you at least tell me the story of how my mother learned to read?”

“Of course, I remember it so well. It was time for the corn harvest and your mother went out to find work. Well, she asked a farmer to hire her and he did, but she couldn’t read the note he gave to her telling her where and when to start. She was embarrassed so she asked a friend to help her read it. After that day, she was determined to teach herself to read. She grabbed every chance she could. She worked so hard and did so well that she was noticed by the local school and they eventually hired her and she even got to teach the preschool students.”

“And then she died having me.” Hope stated sadly. “Grandma, why did she have to die? She could have taught me to read or she could have made money to send me to school.” Hope sighed and stood up. “Can I go for a walk, Grandma?”

“Yes, but come back before it gets dark. You know what happened last time you stayed out past dark.”

“Yes, I will be back soon.”

Hope dragged her feet in the dust kicking up great clouds of smoke. Her head hung down on her shoulders and she wiped a few tears from her eyes. She didn’t even see the woman headed right toward her until it was too late.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” the lady said with a funny accent as she helped pick Hope up from the ground.

“Are you alright?”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Are you sure? You look like something is wrong.” The lady, Susan, eyed her with a questioning look.

“No, I’m fine. I’m not hurt. I’m just sad because of school.”

“Why are you sad about that? Don’t you want to go to school?”

“Of course I do. My Grandma and I just don’t have the money.” Hope admitted with a frown.

“Why do you want to go to school so much?” Susan questioned her.

“Well,…” Hope dragged her foot around in the dirt. “I see some of my friends and they seem to have such a good time at school. I want to be with them so I can learn a lot, too.”

She looked at her with understanding in her eyes. “Do you know what? I actually work for a school where people from other countries pay so children like you can go to school. I am pretty sure that there is someone out there who would like to help you. Would you be interested?”

“Would I?” Hope asked with a gleam in her eye. “It’s what I’ve always dreamed of. When can I start?”

Susan gave Hope an impetuous hug. “Soon, little Hope, very soon.”

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This article has been read 637 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Murray03/12/09
The little girl's name reflects the vision for education. Great story.
Sharon Kane03/14/09
You have highlighted a very important reality for so many African people: the terrible twin scourge of poverty and illiteracy. Sponsership schemes are literally a life line for some of the poorest.
I am going to be nit picky here, and this has nothing to do with the theme of your story, but sitting in metal shacks under the African sun feels pretty much like sitting in an oven!!
The story was told with all the tenderness it deserves. Well done.
Connie Dixon03/15/09
This was a hearwarming story, finding hope among the hopeless always blesses me. Good writing, too!
Bryan Ridenour03/16/09
The name of Hope is great foreshadowing. Well written!
Karlene Jacobsen03/17/09
Divine encounters! I love them! Hope has hope.
Catrina Bradley 03/17/09
Wonderful title - it has a double-meaning for me, and for little Hope, too. I really like your story!