Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The youth is taking over….

Since our psychosocial advisor Yolanda van den Broek has come to the end of her stay in Haiti taking care of children whose families were either killed in the earthquake of January 12 or can no longer provide adequate care for their children, adolescents from the SOS Children's Village have gladly and proudly taken on the task...

"After the invasion of more than 50 children at the same time a few weeks ago in the ‘psychosocial’ tent, it became clear to me that I was going to be in trouble once the school holiday really started. Some children have very low self-esteem and you can see them flourish with every compliment they get. It is not just the young children who enjoy the activities in psychosocial tent, many teenagers come regularly, too. Apparently they like the quiet concentration created by many children concentrating on their drawings. Four girls aged 15 to 17 came very regularly and I had put them in charge of activities every now and again when I was called away.

They came up with a great idea: “Can we do activities with the children from the shelters every day?” One of them had decided that it would be a great idea to use the same tent. Indeed a very good idea because I would soon be leaving as well. The psychologist promised to keep an eye on the girls.

Ever since the raining season started, our ‘psychosocial’ tent has some difficulties, the rain seeps through the roof and at times it looks like a little pool inside. We asked the construction guys to move the tent to a better place. The new spot has beautiful trees that provide the necessary shade because it gets hot inside during the day. The girls cleaned everything inside and made a little doormat of white stones they had gathered. The first assignment for the children was to make the decoration for the tent; butterflies and flowers are now giving the tent a less clinical and more homely feel.

The girls had asked to work with the children from the temporary shelters. Some of those children had lived with them for a couple of months in their family houses after the earthquake, so it feels like their are little brothers and sisters. The girls had noticed that life has been difficult for the “shelter kids”: some had seen their parents die or getting badly injured, their houses destroyed. Although the children are glad to be in the shelters and they play a lot outside, they need activities to occupy them. Some of the children had never been to school before they arrived at SOS Children's Villages.

The girls want to help them to learn other things as well. The activity starts each day at 10 in the morning but the girls make sure that before that time they have tidied up the tent and taken the boxes with materials out of the psychologist's office. They walk around proudly, checking the attendance of the children on a list. And they are very strict…only the 20 children from the designated bloc of shelters can come inside. One of the girls explains what the programme is for the next 3 hours. Sitting outside on a bench while one of the girls tells them a story from a story book is just great to see, those little faces, so concentrated and exited about what happens next in the story.

When the girls paint the faces of the children, they finish the session by decorating themselves as well.

While one is reading a story, the other one is preparing the next activity, often drawing or coloring but games as well…domino is very popular. Fridays are reserved for sporting activities. Although there are many shelters placed on the former football field there is still enough space for a decent match.

The family assistants have their plan ready for the activities during the summer holiday for all the children in the village. A dance and music instructor will start this week and every morning a different group will sweat even harder than they already do because of the normal heat. "