Arts and crafts are a hit.
We do a lot of arts and crafts in our “Tell your stories” program. And, of course, we are looking forward to engaging in other creative adventures. Yet, because we currently run the program in primary schools, as we have not found a suitable building, arts and crafts are easier to accommodate. And another important reason, the children love it so much. Especially stickers are, by far, their most favorite item.
To my surprise, glitter is popular with both genders; the more sparkles, the better. Because stickers are expensive in Dominica and it is hard to find new ones every time, we only have stickers now and then. Sometimes I purposely start without to introduce them halfway through the session. Trust me; spirits rise when stickers appear.
My mantra in every session is SHARING is CARING. We do not have enough scissors and glue jars for each child, so they have to share. And if I bring in other materials like felt, there is enough for everyone, yet the supply is not limitless. Colored cardstock paper is expensive too; therefore, each child gets to choose their favorite color and works with that. Of course, I keep a few extras just in case; after all, mishaps occasionally happen.
Always offer materials in good condition.
Even though I like good preparation, I never really gave it much thought. Taking part in a 2-day workshop, Trauma & Art, changed my perspective. I learned that it makes a big difference to participants how you offer materials.
Maybe not on a conscious level; on a subconscious level, it makes a huge difference. It shows that you value your participants enough to make sure that they have the best possible materials. That goes for both adults and children equally.
The fact that someone values you so much that they bring all these beautiful materials gets an important message across; you are worthy of this. Regardless of where you come from, what your circumstances are, you matter. And I enjoy you being in our session, so I strive to bring the best arts and crafts materials possible.
And, of course, not everything has to be brand new; that is not the point. The idea is that everything is neat and tidy. Sharpened pencils, crayons are all in one container, the pencil case is clean, etc.
As it turns out, the children do notice. At some point, I thoroughly cleaned out my orange pencil case with the small wooden shoes—a fun-size reference to my home country, the Netherlands. And a little boy asked me, Ms. did you clean this for us? When I answered affirmative, he smiled from ear to ear.
Respect is important.
I never want to make any child feel like they owe us anything. After all, every child in our program is there for a reason, which might very well be poverty. So, I stay away from pointing out repeatedly that people have donated money for them to be able to use all these beautiful materials.
At the same time, I genuinely feel that everything should be used as it was intended, to have fun with it and make beautiful artwork. Doing that will build the child’s self-esteem and teach them that everybody works differently and that there is beauty in all of them. I want them to learn to respect each other’s work and all the nice crayons, gel pens, stickers, etc., so everyone can benefit from the materials as much as possible.
Most children pick up my mantra, sharing is caring quickly, and when I ask them, they repeat. Yes, Ms. we know…sigh… sharing is caring. And it always makes me smile because even if they do not know it yet, they gradually learn that respect is essential. And it works both ways because self-respect and respecting others is so important. Not to mention being mindful of the teacher’s property, the materials I bring, and the materials already in their classrooms.
As a non-profit, we depend on donations, both in money and in materials. It is always wonderful when someone decides to sponsor a child for US$35, so he or she can attend the full 16 weeks of the program. Because this means this child gets the benefits of our attention and 16 weeks of fun.
I read a quote somewhere that resonates so much with me because I see what those US$35 can do for a child. “Donating is not about giving; it is about making a difference.”
If you want to make that difference, go to our website, and donate today. Rest assured, the children will be delighted with your generous gift.
Over time we have received numerous generous donations in kind, like paint, paper, stickers, scissors, books, too many to mention them all. However, shipping to Dominica from the Netherlands is expensive. We were over the moon to have received a grant from Awesome Without Borders last year that will pay for shipping.
Through an unfortunate turn of events, with which I will not bore you, it has taken over three months for the shipping to finally set sail to Dominica after my family dropped everything off in Rotterdam harbor. If all goes well, we are expecting all the donations by 20 April.
In line with what we stand for, SHARING is CARING, we will share some of the goodies with other local organizations and individuals involved with children in their communities.
Never miss another Blog or Newsletter.
First of all, let me make you a promise; from now on, I will blog regularly to keep you updated on our progress and what a joy it is to work with all the children in our program. We are moving forward with fine-tuning our program, having a fully updated website, getting access to new tools to work with, and communication, both on the website and on our social media.
Make sure to subscribe here to receive updates from Breadfruit House directly in your inbox.
See you on my next Blog.
Love from the Nature Island, Marieke
Another great blog Marieke! Thank you for sharing your wonderful experiences and for expressing your care and kindness to the children in so many ways. It is clear from many of the beautiful photographs, that the children are happy, they thoroughly enjoy what they do, and they obviously love their teacher! Well done.
Thank you Simon, I love what I do. And it is people like you who encourage me to keep going. Thank you for your continued support.
What an amazing blog, Marieke!
Thank you Justine, writing is a wonderful way to express myself and show the world what an amazing job I have.