Ethiopia 2009 - Pt. 6
My first couple of years as a teacher was spent at a school that was not in the best part of town. Substitute teachers were hard to find because few wanted to go there. I never had any problems. For me, respect, encouragement, clear expectations, consistent discipline, good lesson plans, and a bit of humor thrown in was all that it took. Kids whom were seen by others as problem students, I saw as possibility students. More often than not, I was able to "break through" and become the one that spurs them forward. Part of what made the previous day difficult is that these were the same kind of boys - rough around the edges, but one look into their eyes and you know there is gold inside. However, given the short amount of time, I don't think any of us "broke through." Therefore, we left with the feeling we still had more to do...there was work left unfinished.
The first place we visited on Wednesday was definitely a change of pace. It was a place called Kind Hearts and the children ranged in age from 4-10. I went all out with swinging the kids around, throwing them up in the air (they never left my hands) and hanging them upside down by their ankles. I played frisbee with the older ones and "hide-the-balloon-under-my-shirt" with the younger ones. I plum wore myself out, but it was awesome. As usual, the gifts and supplies were big hits with the kids.
In the afternoon we toured a place called Hannah's Orphanage. This was the best we had seen and served as a model for other orphanages. In fact, they even had a library and a computer room. Most of the children stay in rented houses, with the older (16-18 yr old) ones acting as head-of-households. Most are in school and shared with us their career dreams. Because of the support they are receiving, those dreams are certainly within reach.
Toward the end of the visit, I was told that the parents of a 7 yr old girl playing near us had both died of AIDS. She is HIV Positive. I watched her bounce a soccer ball back and forth with one our team members and thought about how so many take life for granted. As we were getting ready to leave, I gave her a hug. I can't explain it, but I could tell by the way she hugged me that she knows the score. And, she knows that I know, and that I know that she knows, if you follow. That hug was very special. Again, words fail me here.