São Tomé is a beautiful but poor country. The average income per family is very low and most of the population live with less than 100 euros per month per family. In this condition, it is very difficult for people to have any savings. People have to be SMART in order to survive and to find food on a regular occasion. This is one of the reason why children are left alone (with other children) and do not have access to cultural or educational activities : the parents are busy struggling.
People in farms have food but very low incomes. People in the fishermen villages have fish but very low incomes. People living in the city who are not civil servants nor employed by big companies, also have quite low incomes.
As an example, a guard, working 12 hours/shift will earn about 60 euros per month. A worker in construction can make between 4 euro and 12 euros per day (only if he is skilled). Lots of women sell vegetables, fishes and food products at the market and rely on day-to-day activities in order to put food on the table.
Many inhabitants do not have running water at home. They collect water in small tanks or bottles and carry them home, on their head, or with a wheelbarrow. Children are asked to help at home and in particular to take part in this chore.
No running water at home means there is no shower running. Dishes have to be washed in buckets or basins.
Consequently, they do not have bathrooms nor water closets... A recent article stated that above 60% of the population can watch the stars while taking care of necessary needs...
People usually take a bath at the beach (when near the ocean) or take a bath at the public fountain nearby. Men, women and children take turns.
Many dwellings are not connected to the national electric grid. The basic fee to connect a house is about 100 euros (including the installation of equipment and the registration). Many families cannot afford this expense.
As the sun sets around 6 pm, people go to bed early. They use candles or oil lamps in their house, which increases the risks of fire. Since there is no good lightning, it is more difficult for children to study after sunset...
When there are shortages of electricity, people have to struggle to find a way to charge their mobile phones...
People living in modern conditions do not realize how restrictive the lack of access to electricity is.
In the city, most of the main streets are asphalt roads. But most secondary roads are dirt roads, and in impoverished residential areas, most house can only be accessed by narrow paths. Most countries’ social and economic development have relied on the road system (see how the Roman Empire developed the road network).
Except for some specific projects, public transportation is almost non existent. Private companies operate small vans to transport people from city to city and people also use the moto-taxi to travel short distances.
The fee is about 8 euros per month. But they do not cover all the itineraries nor all the schedules. Some areas are prioritized over others and not all children have a ride to school.
In fact, you would be surprised if you visited Sao Tome and drive by any place at around 12:30 pm. Children leaving school walk in one direction and meet the children going to school. Light blue shirts for primary schools students and yellow shirts for Junior High and High School students.
-People spend a lot of time to gather their water supply.
-People do not have electricity at home.
-People and children spend time walking if they cannot pay taxi.
-Most people earn too little to have any savings.
These are fundamental facts that directly impact the studying capacity of children. How many hours could be saved per week and per person if these basic issues were solved ?
We take care of the rest !