Kenny, Maticha, and Yoseva are in their final year of elementary school. If they get good grades, they’ll be off to high school next year. And that will mean a big change, because there is no high school in their village of Pikin Slee in Suriname, deep in the rainforest on the banks of the Upper Suriname River. The nearest one is in the capital, Paramaribo, five hours away—that’s not a journey you can do twice a day.
But the thought of leaving the village is unnerving for some of the children. Kenny is going to miss the river he swims in every day. Maticha doesn’t want to leave her mother alone. But Yoseva is really looking forward to moving in with her sister in the city—where you can watch TV all day long.
The village where these children are growing up is unusual because it was founded by enslaved people who escaped their captors when the country was a Dutch colony. We see them learning traditional ways, helping in the vegetable garden, hunting, playing in the surrounding nature, or distracting themselves from the upcoming life-changing event by listening to music on their cell phone. Because as amazing as life is in this village community surrounded by rainforest plants, animals, spirits, and stories, the prospect of moving away is even more exciting—and daunting for some.