Getting positive feedback.
From my own experience, I know that using creativity to express your emotions works. In a highly challenging time in my life, it was my only outlet, my way to keep sane. That time in my life is part of the book that I am currently writing. If you want to follow my writing journey, please subscribe here to receive updates of this endeavor, and read the back flap.
Still, seeing it work for the children in our program is so much more rewarding. Getting positive feedback from teachers validates that we are doing an excellent job. And we will continue to do so, reaching more children with every new program.
He slowly came out of his shell.
Now let me tell you a story about a little boy in the very first program we did. He was timid and introverted when we started. It took him a while to find the courage to join in when we did a silly dance, for example.
The children all had a warm lunch, and to shake off any drowsiness, I would put on music, and we would all do a silly dance to shake it off.
After a few weeks, he finally found the courage to stand up from his desk and jiggle a little bit. I always make sure to join in. Trust me; you do not want to see me dance. But, to show the children that it is okay to be vulnerable and act goofy, I am in there with them.
Throughout the program, he slowly came out of his shell. I always walk around to look at what everyone is doing. Complimenting every individual child on their work or help if they are struggling with something. He always worked diligently but stayed at his desk as sort of a safe zone. Most of the others seemed to gravitate around my desk all the time. He made such significant steps in coming out of his shell, and his teacher acknowledged that as well.
I felt so proud.
A few weeks ago, I was part of a special art and crafts event for some children initiated by an American art therapist visiting Dominica. As it so happened, I had to take over part of the organization, and decided to reach out to the school, where we did our first two programs.
To my joy, one of the children who came was this little boy from our very first group. I loved seeing him more confident and smiling at me. He participated in all the exercises, all related to hurricane Maria. The children were asked to draw themselves before and after it happened. And also make a drawing of their house and write about how the storm made them feel.
Not only did he write complete sentences, but he also courageously stood up in front of the group and to tell how the storm made him feel. The teacher who was with us pointed to me and said, this is the person who has given him this confidence. Your program allowed him to feel more confident and slowly come out of his shell. I felt so proud, proud to see the program’s results in the positive change in behavior of this beautiful kid.
A hug can speak a thousand words.
We recently had the graduation session of our program at Roseau Primary school. That is always a joyous and also bittersweet moment. Happy because we go all out and celebrate the children graduating, and bittersweet because I will not see them any time soon.
My sincere hope is that we can do a follow-up program of maybe six weeks, towards the end of the year, at both schools. Let’s see if we can find enough funding to make this happen.
I love all the children in every group. The boisterous ones, those who always have something to say or are too shy to speak initially. The child who is afraid to make mistakes and the one who is struggling with the exercise because of negative self-talk. And let’s not forget the goofy child, who puts stickers on his forehead or the back of my shirt.
In the recently graduated group, all children loved to sit next to me, offer me some of their snacks, and hug me. I loved every single one of those hugs so much, and I will miss them a lot. And yet, some hugs stand out more.
When the children entered for this last session, they were excited, knowing that this would be extra special. One after the other came up and hugged me. Then there was one girl who held me so tight and whispered in my ear; I want to stay here forever. We stood there just holding each other for a long time. A hug can speak a thousand words, and this one spoke volumes*.
*Because I am fully vaccinated, and we are fortunate not to have any community spread of Covid-19 in Dominica, I embraced all the hugs.
I love my job.
It touched my heart in so many ways and validated all the reasons why I do what I do. Like everyone else, I sometimes second guess myself, do I do enough? Does our idea genuinely work, and how can I do more?
Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and what I do. Yet that one special hug and seeing that little boy stand up to talk about how he felt makes it very much worthwhile and melted away all my doubts.
One last remark, this program was fully funded with grant from the Rotary Club of Portsmouth Dominica. A heartfelt thank you for all your support!
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From the Nature Island,