Yes, the Breadfruit House is ready. Ready to host new groups of children, and I could not be more excited. It turned out beautiful, inviting, inspiring, and it feels like a safe space for the children.
I could not have done this alone, of course. I had much-needed help from our treasurer, Pamela, who came to visit me in August, and 2 two skilled carpenters. And even the landlord has contributed by having a large table available for us, with the legs a little shorter than usual, to accommodate the children.
Look at all the decorations.
All the walls in the house were like a blank canvas, painted in a kind of off-white color, the perfect background for our posters and paintings. And still, leave room for more decorations made by the children themselves.
The giant poster, made a while ago by Hanneke de Jager, turned out to be the perfect size between the 2 smaller windows. Let’s be honest; it looks fantastic and so fun and colorful. I can see children discovering new things every time they look at the poster. And I am thinking of printing a black and white version as a coloring sheet as a gift during graduation.
When I saw the painting of the Red House, made by my second cousin, Frenk, I fell in love with it. And the fact that he called house made it even more perfect. I think it complements the red cabinet with cubby holes to the tee. It looks like the Breadfruit House is ready!
Chairs of benches?
When I moved in, there were 6 nice, newly upholstered chairs around the dining room table. Each group has ten children, so the chairs would not be enough. Plus, we will use glue, glitter, paint, etc., which doesn’t seem like a good idea with upholstery.
I asked a skilled carpenter who lives up the road, for a quote. After approval from the board, he started to work on 4 benches and a cupboard with cubby holes while I was enjoying my time in the Netherlands.
I had already decided that the paint colors should be vibrant. When the carpenter asked me, I told him bright red, the same color as my rocking chair, which he also made, and bright green. He asked me to confirm if this was what I wanted because he was not initially convinced. I said yes, trust me, it will look very inviting for the children. And see for yourself; it looks beautiful.
Having fun is essential.
The 10-week program is theme based. For every session, I plan a different theme. There are standard topics like: ‘Let’s get to know everyone, ‘What makes me happy, ‘What do I tell the person I see in the mirror?’ and ‘Why bullying is not ok.
This time I have decided to introduce the Gratitude Jar. I wrote a Blog about my personal gratitude jar; click here to read it. It is good to be aware of the small miracles that happen to you every day. The idea is that the children draw or write something they are grateful for that week and put it in the jar. At the end of the ten weeks, we will read and look at everything in the jar during graduation. I am convinced it will be a great reminder of everything that happened.
What is most important is that we have fun. Of course, sometimes the theme is serious, no doubt about that. Yet, once the paper, scissors, glue, and glitter are on the table, we always have fun. And let’s not forget our very own Breadfruit House dance song. If you feel adventurous to ‘jump around and blow the trumpet, ’ click here to listen.
Reading can bring so much joy.
For as long as I can remember, I imagined a reading nook as part of the Breadfruit House. With inspiring books, my red rocking chair, and cushions on the floor where the children can sit when I read to them. And also a place where children can sit by themselves to read. We have books for every level of reader, and my goal is to inspire them that reading is fun and can transport you to another world in a few sentences.
From fabric that was partly donated and partly bought in the Netherlands, Pamela measured and cut, and sewed a total of 8 cushion covers. Together we purchased a small rug, so the children will be nice and comfortable.
In primary school, my love of reading started. I was at the library at least once a week as I enjoyed reading every available book I especially liked stories with no pictures or illustrations so I could build my own images in my head. I want to show the children that reading can bring so much joy and builds your vocabulary.
Every child matters.
I want every child to feel seen and heard, which is even more important than our fun together. It doesn’t matter where they live, their last name, or their background. Every child matters, and making them feel that they do is a priority.
Sometimes small things add to that feeling of safety, of being valued and seen for who you are. Therefore, I asked one of the carpenters to make a small step for the younger children to be able to reach the tab to wash their hands. He painted it bright red, even without asking, so the Breadfruit House is ready.
A significant step forward.
If all goes well, I will host 2 groups of children, one from each school I previously worked with. Preparing everything is exciting, and I look forward to working with them. We will have a lot of fun, and I hope they will learn their value, find their voice, and a way to cope with their emotions and feelings.
It is a significant step forward from going to the schools, with grocery bags and a backpack filled with materials, to hosting the children in our building, nicely decorated with room for more decorations from the children. The Breadfruit House is ready!
See you at my next Blog, from the Nature Island,