Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summer Programme

Let’s start with a funny story. There’s a girl, around five years old. Cutest, smiliest little bumblebee you will ever see. She’s playing away with all the other kids when she asks if she can use the bathroom. I tell her yes and continue playing cards with the others. After a few minutes, my ears perk up because I hear odd sounds coming from the hallway. It sounds almost like a soft shouting, as if from a distance. I excuse myself from the card game to go check on her. “Why would she run downstairs?” I wonder. As I step into the hall and make my way for the stairs thinking I’d find her dancing away in a place she shouldn’t be, I pass the bathroom. The door is wide open. And there she is, sitting on the toilet, softly singing to herself. Caught completely off-guard by this (my face must have been priceless), I can only think to ask her if everything is all right. She smiles, says yep, and I head back to my card game. Ahh, the carefree days of singing joyfully as you poop!

Here's another chuckle worthy story. We hiked up the mountain a couple weeks ago with our preteen group. One of the girls in our group isn’t much of an outdoorsy person, and as we started along a path in an area with more vegetation, she exclaimed with what sounded like near distaste, “It smells like plants!” I had a good laugh after that.

On a trip to a park, I had the chance to play football (soccer) with one of the girls. This would be an activity that I imagine she rarely has the opportunity to enjoy.  I find her to be one of the more challenging children we work with, and our interactions don’t always go smoothly because she seems to enjoy being a thorn in people’s sides. If you ask her to not jump on the sofa, she hears an invitation to jump. Yet, behind the troublemaking, she’s the type of child that smiles and laughs a lot, but the smiles and laughter seem empty. Anyway, I was so happy today that I was able to play football with her. She was happy (and I mean truly happy) to be kicking that ball around. I let her score some goals on me and congratulated her on her incredible skills, and the happiness started leaking out of her ears. That look on her face… I just did a wee dance inside remembering that face. I’m blessed to part of an organization that can offer children the untroubled, cheerful moments that they deserve. 

I realize that I haven't shared many stories about my experiences with work these past few months, so hopefully I'll do a bit better moving forward. There should be more opportunities for good stories during the summer because we've started our summer program. The kids are all out of school now, so when it's their day to come to Quakers, the whole family comes up together. Normally, the mums and babies would come in the morning while the afterschoolers would come in the evening. Now, they all come at the same time. The mums go off and have excursions of their own. The babies go to parks sometimes, but the afterschoolers have the real fun. They all go out on trips to parks and beaches and farms and museums and Norway and outerspace and places like that. For the first three weeks of the summer program, I'll be with the afterschoolers. So far (just three days in), we've been to a beach, three different parks, and on a fire engine. As fun as all of this is, I'm already missing the babies. When we're not on our summer program, I would see the babies every day plus the afterschoolers three times per week. Unfortunately, when I'm back with the babies in a few weeks, I'll be missing the older children! I just want them all!

And to finish things off here, I have to make an announcement. I realize that I never told everyone what my decision about when I'd be coming home was. I had the choice to stay for a second year, but after months of trying to figure out what to do, I finally decided that I would just stick with my initial decision of one year. If I could both stay here in this amazing place with all these special kids and come back home to all you wonderful people, I would be so happy. But alas! I can't. So at the end of September, I'll be traveling to the Netherlands, Belgium, and France for a short trip before heading home to start the next adventure. Moving back in with Ma and Pa... Dun dun DUH!!!'ll be good though.

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