Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Will they see each other again?

In our SOS Children's Village there is a kindergarten that is invaded by 250 children every morning. The children paint, sing, play and learn there. As I have to pass it on the way from my sleeping quarters to the kindergarten office, I often pop in briefly in the morning. By way of greeting, the children always shout out "White", because my hair and skin are so white. Then I let them touch my hair and my big nose. The children here learn to read and write through playing. Yesterday's task was to "paint a picture showing what you wish for most of all". Some painted horses, others big sweeties, but as you might expect, most of them painted pictures to do with the disaster in some way. Viola is eight years old, and she painted a pile of stones with a little stick man beside it. When I asked her who the stick man was, she told me it was her brother.

"My brother is sleeping just now under this pile of stones, and I call him every day but he doesn't come out. My brother is very stubborn!" Viola's big sister (13 years old), who I went to the kindergarten with, says in an exasperated voice, "Viola, I've told you a hundred times already, that he's dead and isn't coming back." I actually knew what had happened to her brother, but hearing it said aloud and so definitely by her sister produced quite a different effect on me. My heart began to pound and I didn't know what to say to Viola, as she looked at me questioningly. Luckily she spoke first, and said "But that doesn't mean that I'll not see him again, does it?" I replied "Of course you'll see him again, just not here and not for a while." This answer obviously didn't satisfy her, so she stood up and went over to one of the psychologists, saying "I'll only speak to Tharun about my brother." Tharun is a girl here in the SOS Children's Village who works with the children on a daily basis and is currently being trained by the five psychologists who work here. How exactly this works and what the young people do with the children - more of that another time. Today I am too tired and really have to get to bed now, so that I can be fit for getting up at 6 a.m. again tomorrow.

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