The past few days with the kids have been awesome! Joy has sent word to all the children that have been placed into homestay situations that Michelle and I are here, and each day a few more show up. It’s a little overwhelming because we have to assess where each child is at in his or her level of English in about 2 seconds, but they’re very patient and we try to mix it up with fun games so nobody gets frustrated. I’m learning a lot about how difficult it must be to manage a classroom of 20, 30, or 40 kids – thank goodness there are two of us!
We taught them emotions and prepositions using charades, which was a lot of fun, and we bought a map of the world and are trying to give them a sense of how big of a world they actually live in. At first most of them couldn’t even find India, but after these past few days many of them can name all 7 continents! We had them journal about all the places in the world they want to visit. Many of them had never really even though about the possibility about traveling outside of India – at first they were naming Kolkata, Lucknow, Delhi – but by the end of the activity we had them drawing pictures of the Statue of Liberty and the opera house in Sydney! We also had them journal about the most important people in their lives. This was very moving because most of them actually wrote about each other. That’s what gets me the most about SOUP – the awesome support network the children have built among each other.
We also had a great time over the weekend taking them to the biggest park (ok, I think maybe the only park) in Allahabad! They don’t have a lot of room at SOUP to move and it was one of my most gratifying moments here to be able to watch them run around and play on the different swing sets, slides, etc.
We’re spending the afternoons of each day sitting with Joy and talking to him about SOUP as an organization, where it is headed in the future, and how Michelle and I can best contribute to its development. Joy also spends time telling us the story of one or two children. I am amazed each time at how successfully he has been able to rehabilitate each and every one of them. I am even more amazed because he doesn’t seem to have a set model or process for handling each child. In the United States that’s all some organization seem to focus on – the model, the set-up, the programming, the structure. Does the model work? Ok, expand it! Joy’s only model seems to have been that he treated each of the 500+ children he has seen since the shelter started in the 90s with the same love and care he would treat his own child.
Katie McCabe's Blog
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