Days after his class' year-end party, Wey Francis will leave for South Sudan with plenty of memories, as well as a promise from his fellow students and their parents to pay for his education so he can fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor -
When Wey Francis, a pupil at the Magen Elementary School in Tel Aviv, stepped off the stage at his class' year-end party, he was greeted by a standing ovation. He was surrounded and embraced, and his classmates cried. Today, Francis and his family are getting on a plane that will take them back to South Sudan. But his classmates aren't leaving him behind – school parents have donated tens of thousands of shekels to pay for his education.
In the yearbook, each of the pupils was asked what he or she wanted to be when they grew up. Francis, who came to the school four years ago, didn't hesitate – a doctor.
"Wey will be doctor, no doubt about it," said principal Shosh Kipper. "He is an outstanding student, with unusual motivation and rare personal qualities. We did our best to help him integrate; his achievement has been very good."
Nor did attempts to help Francis integrate end with the teaching staff. Parents also pitched in to make sure that he and his family lacked nothing: they took turns preparing lunch sandwiches for them, gave him rides to parties, extracurricular activities, andscouts, and on Fridays sent the family baskets of food and cake.
But a few weeks ago, Francis was forced to tell his friends he was leaving. He and his family are leaving Israel as part of thevoluntary deportation program for South Sudanese citizens. "I have to go," he told his classmates. "I don't want to leave Israel and school. I like it here, you're like my family. I want to say – thank you all."
Francis' classmate Uri Forstadt said that the past few days, the students had been sad. They put together a photo album with goodbye messages and wished Francis good luck. "I wrote my e-mail address down, but I don't know if they even have Internet there," Forstadt said. "We tried not to talk about him leaving, because when he said he was going back to South Sudan he cried. I'm sad Wey is leaving."
When they learned that Francis was leaving, parents began raising money - tens of thousands of shekels – for him and his family and took care to organize a large stock of medicine, clothing, and basic necessities. One parent, a lawyer, even took care to meet with Francis' parents' employers to ensure that they receive all that is due them.
"I wouldn't send my son to a place lik e that without the right stuff, it seemed obvious to me that we had to equip the family," said Uri's mother, Leah Forstadt. "We will also send them a monthly stipend."
But the parents all say that the most important task is to make sure that Francis gets an education. They located two private schools. Francis will study at one of them, and they have committed to pay the fees. "Wey is like my son," Forstadt said. "We really love him and worry about him and we have decided to… help him fulfill his dream – to become a doctor."
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