Monday, May 14, 2007

Here come the kids...

Today was the first day that the Purdue team was to work with all of the Compassion kids. I wasn’t sure how everything would go. We do things differently here. The schedule is much more flexible and much less planned than anything I’ve ever done before. It’s tough to speak to kids who are in 4th grade and lower. There are cultural barriers as well. At first, it was like a Junior High dance. The kids came and stayed on once side of the compound and the Purdue team stayed on the other. Then it was time for the kids to have their devotionals in the church, so they gathered together. I told the Purdue team before they went in to just disperse themselves throughout the kids. “Get right in the middle of all of them.”

I think that the reason they just stood there, staring in awe at the kids was that of bewilderment at first. This group of 300 African kids singing in unison songs thick with their little African accents. They just stood there and smiled at them. Amazed, I guess you could say. Just smiling. The kids were singing, dancing, drumming and generally excited about singing songs to Jesus, in part because there were 14 visitors there, and in part because that’s what they do every center day that they come.

We led them in a few fun, kid songs and then did a mime type drama teaching the kids to follow Jesus, followed by a short sermon by Ken. It was the teams first taste of Compassion and I think it set the tone for the rest of the day. The excitement and enthusiasm was there.

Afterwards the team spread themselves out and worked with the different classes of kids (primary 1-7 and secondary) teaching them from their textbooks (each class has a textbook, not each child). They taught science, math, English and social studies. They also played games. Some were the games that the kids knew and had to teach, like my favorite game, seven stones, where 2 kids stand 30 ft apart with one person in the middle who stacks 7 stones on top of each other while the other two try to tag the middle person with a soft ball (not to be confused with a softball) that’s made of plastic bags. Kind of like dodge ball, but on acid! Oh, and did I mention that only girls play this game? Boys don’t want anything to do with it, but it’s my favorite Ugandan game!!

I loved how the Purdue team just loved on the kids. Normally there’s only one white guy to go around to 300 kids, but here they were well dispersed. One girl was sitting in the middle of a swarm of kids, telling fairy tales like Cinderella and Snow White! Others were helping the kids write letters to their sponsors. The kids were touching their arms and their hair. Usually about 5 children were holding hands with, pulling arms of, or generally tugging on the Purdue team members, and let me assure you, the team was eating it up! They loved it as much as the kids did. Brad was tossing a football around with them, which they’d never seen a football before. One team member was just sitting in a room answering questions about American with a group of the secondary school students. Then it was on to duck-duck-goose, freeze tag and volleyball. That was followed up by relay races, including balancing an egg on a spoon – race, and a bottle filling contest involving handing water from one person to the next… the kids beat the Purdue team on that one! Those kids wore us OUT, but it was easily the best center day that I’ve ever been a part of. At the end of the day we passed out bags of goodies (stickers, pencils, bubbles, crayons, etc) to each and every child. We had spent HOURS the day before getting things sorted evenly. Before the Purdue team came, many students (poor college students at that) had filled boxes with gifts to give to the Compassion kids. And normally the kids RUN away when they’ve been dismissed from Compassion, but this time they stayed around and didn’t want to leave their new American friends. I’m sure the feeling was mutual!


Post a Comment

<< Home