Today was another of those mornings where coffee just was not enough.
My daughter has been making weekday mornings quite a challenge for me as of late; struggling to get her out of bed and ready for school (just in time to catch the morning school bus) has become a tiresome and stressful slap of morning reality for me.
Ironically, the kid loves school.
Once she’s finally popped out of that tired morning, rolling out of bed, brushing her teeth and dressing up stage and is sitting at the breakfast table chowing down on some cereal and fruit, she’s an eager beaver.
I’m thankful that at least I don’t have to worry about that; however, there are days when the morning struggle is beyond my grasp and missing the morning school bus adds another hour of my time because then I’d have to get fully dressed to look somewhat presentable, get my son ready to take along with me, and haul the kids into the car to drive 15 minutes to and from my daughter’s school plus the time having to walk her into the school with the less than eager three year old in this cold weather.

While I’m busy complaining and whining about this extra hour of “inconvenience” for my daughter missing the school bus, there are children in this world that have to travel almost two hours, hitch-hiking or trekking through the wilderness to just get to school, on their own, and willingly, because they know very well how lucky they are to even have a school to attend.

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“We often forget how lucky we are to go to school,” reads an opening title card in French documentarian Pascal Plisson’s On the Way to School.

Tracking four groups of children in four far-flung locations — the Kenyan wilderness, the hills of Patagonia, the Atlas Mountains and the Bay of Bengal — the film jumps among the four tweens as they each set off on impossibly long, arduous and sometimes life-threatening journeys to attend class in distant schoolhouses.

For 11-year-old Jackson and his younger sis, Salome, this entails waking up at 5:30 a.m. and walking more than 15 kilometers through unprotected wilderness in Kenya, where they risk being attacked by elephants. For Carlito, it means riding a horse across rocky hillsides, his sister in tow. For Zahira and her friends in Morocco, it includes tramping over mountains, hitchhiking and hocking a live chicken in exchange for snacks. And for the handicapped Samuel in India, the voyage requires his younger brothers to push a creaky, makeshift wheelchair over broken roads and swamplands.

Beautifully filmed, this documentary, although subtle in description without much detail on the education behind each story and what comes of each child, it’s a very sentimental and visually-inspiring storyline where less is truly more and a reminder for our children (and us as parents) to count our blessings.

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Available on Netflix Canada, this is one of the awe-inspiring titles that I have introduced to my family as we journey into a new year, in hopes that we can all learn to appreciate what we have, and whatever “struggles” we battle on a regular, as it so pales in comparison to others. This is an excellent film and one I highly recommend watching with the kids or your students (for teachers).
To learn more about this title and to watch, visit Netflix Canada online here.

I hope this new year brings new inspiration and motivation to you and your family.

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