Thursday, 1 May 2008

Most of the kids I used to look after in Preschool before I left for Uganda in the summer of 07 have now gone to school and are in Reception Class. One of these kids - always very bright for her age - told her class during Show and Tell time about the fact that I had gone to 'Africa to set up a Preschool in an orphanage'. I was very impressed that someone so young could take something in like that and actually recount it to someone else! When my colleagues told the kids I was leaving - we told them in terms of - Isabelle is going to look after kids who have no Mummies and Daddies, and make them a nursery with lots of toys and fun things to learn, because they arent as fortunate as you all are and dont have lots of toys like here - that was how it was explained in a roundabout way - obviously not wanting to say too much and upsetting them!
So anyway, I agreed to go to the school and do a short presentation to the children about my time there, and what life in 'Africa'is like for many kids. I say 'Africa' because life isnt just like that in Africa - there are many places where kids are lacking the essentials including here in the UK. I also say 'Afica' because I dont want to give these kids the illusion that all of Africa is poor, starving, desolate and needy, because there are many places where people live in wealth and luxury - also its not just about how much you have, or how much you're worth. These people are happy people, they are content, sure they lack a lot of things but life is about more than that.

Anyway, I'm not really sure how to present this to the kids. Life in Uganda is often about poverty, death, AIDS, orphans, starvation, but I dont want them to think that that is what Africa is all about. In the media, all you really ever see about Africa is war, starvation, poverty, orphans, AIDS and thats what many people perceive Africa as being, and with this perception comes the need to 'fix' Africa, to make things better. Everyone thinks in terms of 'over there'. I don't want to scare these poor kids and give them the sense that they owe Africa anything. Its not their fault that there are 1,000,000 AIDS orphans in Uganda, nor is their fault that approximately 30,000 die each day due to poverty. However, I do firmly believe that we need to teach our kids from a young age how fortunate they are (without drilling it into them), and how they can make a difference in the world. When I was a kid I used to put aside some pocket money and put it into my barnados box, I used to do sponsored events (although I did a sponsored silence and no one sponsored me because they said I rarely ever spoke anyway - so it wasnt much of a challenge!), I really enjoyed doing these things, and I understood how fortunate I was to have the the things I took for granted! Although, I must add that I didnt behave like I understand those things during my teens!

I am thinking of helping them understand by explaining it to them through feelings.
for example, how would you feel if you had no Mummy or Daddy? or How would you feel if you had to walk to school without any shoes? etc

I don't know! and to think I'm going to be teaching Year 2!!!

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