Sam isn’t doing too well at school.  But without the support of TK2 he wouldn’t be in school at all.

The 14-year-old is having to repeat grade six because he didn’t show up to re-sit an exam – one which his tutors at Blythswood’s after-school programme believe he could have passed if he tried.

At TK2, Sam has proven that he has real ability, especially in acting, dance, choreography and music.  “He has played major roles in all our musicals so far,” says Adrian Popa, director of Blythswood’s Talita Kum project.  “His drums teacher says that he could easily play in a band.”

Sam is the youngest of five children from a low-income family who share three small rooms in a former army barracks lacking even the most basic amenities.  From the day he started school he had difficulty fitting in: his bad language and physical violence caused frequent disruption.

“Even Blythswood’s social workers thought of giving up on him,” Adrian admits.  “Only their patience, love, discipline and determination have kept him from dropping out of school.

“Sam is still causing trouble in and out of school but is a totally different child at Talita Kum, respectful and trying to get ready for the next day.”

Social workers from TK2 sometimes visit him at school and sit in on his classes.  “This provides a significant incentive for Sam to behave,” says Adrian.  “The teachers would love this to happen more often.”

Adrian is in no doubt that without the incentive provided by TK2 Sam would have dropped out of school completely.  Admission is conditional on having attended classes that day.  “Sometimes he goes missing for a day or two and gets into bad company.  But he comes back and admits he was wrong and promises to be stronger next time.

“Every day he is torn between what he learns with us and what he thinks he has to do and say to please his friends.”

TK2 extends Talita Kum’s provision of nutrition, education and cultural activities to children aged 11-14, giving them the support they need to continue their schooling, despite disadvantages at home.