There is a well-known saying when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. In other words, you work with what you have then. And even though the pandemic has been going on for over 2 years now, it was only late last year that I learned the true meaning of those words.
For a long time, Dominica did very well in containing the virus. We had our fair share of lockdowns and curfews like almost every other country on the map. And even our borders were closed for quite some time. It all helped in keeping the virus at bay.
Sadly, last year something happened which caused the number of infections to spike rapidly, and we experienced our first death. People panicked, and society came to a screeching hold.
Breadfruit House was fortunate to be able to finish our two programs before summer last year.
During the summer break, I decided to use my time wisely and start writing down what eventually will become a Breadfruit House program curriculum or manual. I did not anticipate that schools would remain closed after the summer break. Lessons were online for months, as schools only reopened on 25th of April this year.
I felt for everyone involved, parents who still had to go to work and homeschool their children simultaneously. Teachers who had to go back to teaching online. And especially the children, who could not go to school, yet still had to keep up with schoolwork. They couldn’t play with their friends and not always live in the best circumstances.
And then, there are the challenges of affordable internet and devices for the children to work on. Talk about when life gives you lemons.
The Breadfruit House curriculum is a work in progress, as it proves to be more work than expected. Plus, English is my second language, and I want to ensure it reflects our vision 100%.
And to add to that, my creative mind keeps bringing up all these new and exciting ideas.
Talking about new ideas.
Some of you might know this already; I write two Blogs. This one, of course, is for Breadfruit House and a personal Blog called ‘Stories from my rocking chair .’You can read all of them here. Besides the Blogs, I am writing a book about how life prepared me for the work I am doing now.
Yet, when we were unable to run our program, a children’s book presented itself to me and needed to be written. I had that idea for a while and even had a title. When I took the time to sit down to write, the story unfolded itself effortlessly.
Inspired by a narrated story I saw online, together with a very dear friend, we came up with the idea to narrate the book and share it with children in Dominica. And it evolved as the story is now the center of an online program about feelings and emotions.
The story has been written and edited, and a local illustrator is working on bringing Oliver to life. She has shared a few sample drawings, and I am excited to see the illustrations for each chapter.
The book is called ’Oliver and his big bowl of feelings.’ Each of the ten chapters is centered around a different emotion. Craft and writing assignments are connected to each chapter, as well as breathing exercises. Our very own and unique Breadfruit House song is part of every chapter as well.
Because it is a chapter book, I have narrated every chapter separately, as younger children might have trouble reading everything. Every assignment connected to each chapter has an audio file as well. Let me tell you, that was a lot of work, and I had to start over so many times.
Sometimes because of noise outside, other times because a sentence needed to be changed slightly, and often simply because I started stumbling on my words or felt my throat tickling.
I know it is not as perfect as a book on Audible, and that is ok.
The program will be available in a safe online environment under the umbrella of the Breadfruit House website. I think I made good use of the lemons that life has given me, and I look forward to sharing my ‘lemonade’ with Dominican schools.
When life gives you lemons.
I know you have already read enough about lemons to make lemonade for a year! That’s life for you; you never know what will happen next. The only thing you can do is make the best of it, and that’s my intention.
I aimed to run 2 follow-up programs in both schools before summer break starts at the end of June. Something I was very much looking forward to. Seeing all the children, being back in the chaos, hearing my name a gazillion times. Their enthusiasm when I bring new materials, their creative ideas, and just being around them. I have missed that so much.
Unfortunately, it was too challenging for the schools to host me. Catching up has been a priority, and Covid cases have spiked in schools after they opened again in April. I understand even though I felt disappointed as I had looked forward to it so much.
It gave me the time to complete the Oliver book and online program. And prepare the Breadfruit House for September, when we look forward to starting our program at the house.
I have unpacked, sorted, and safely stored all donations in plastic containers. To prevent water from destroying them in case of a storm. We have been extremely fortunate with so many lovely and suitable donations. My rocking chair has found its perfect spot; next to it are all the books for the reading nook. All that is missing are bookshelves and some colorful cushions, for which I already have the fabric.
I will also start decorating the space where we will host the children, to make it inspiring, inviting, and safe. And do everything necessary to be ready for September.
We are taking significant steps.
Everyone I talk to confirms that our program is badly needed in Dominica. It provides a safe space to express their emotions through creativity, giving the children genuine attention and making every child feel seen and heard. Show them that they matter regardless of their last name, their background, or where they live.
The situation in Dominica at the moment, June 2022, is dire. Psychosocial support for children is almost nonexistent or too expensive for parents to afford. My vision is for the Breadfruit House to be a haven, an inviting space with a healthy meal and lots of fun activities to express your emotions and tell your stories.
To continue our work, we need your continued support. Spread the word about Breadfruit House, and share with friends, family, coworkers, schools, and churches. Invite them to sign up for updates, raise funds, and help us help provide badly needed support for the children here. Visit our website by clicking here
Raising funds is a crucial part of our work. Please donate freely and from your heart. Every amount makes a difference. For our donors in the Netherlands, Breadfruit House is now ANBI certified, which gives your donation an extra tax benefit. Please click here for more information. All the more reason to donate!