Playing, painting, patience

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Things have started to get a sense of regularity here, and I’m getting closer to the kids every day. That means I’m learning their stories, their interests, their hopes for the future, and (especially) what makes them cry. And there is certainly a lot of crying. Unfortunately I have been too tired each day to do much outside of getting up, going to them, and going back to the hostel (but I promise to post on Aristotle soon or I might go crazy) so this is mostly an update in pictures. I’ve been trying to help the kids decorate for Christmas, and they love to draw or do anything with arts and crafts (not something they get much of at the prison) so I taught them how to make paper snowflakes and let the younger kids just draw to their heart’s content. I get to know them better through their drawings, too. In the downtime, like when the kids are eating lunch, I’ve been working with a visiting Belgian, Steven, to paint the outside wall of the home in the colors and logo of the organization. We do some other manual labor here and there, which is really a welcome exercise. I’m working with the kids but it’s not very philosophical – they are definitely not at that level quite yet. But we can have discussions about why they aren’t allowed to steal the mangoes from the neighbors’ trees (and why stealing in general is bad). When they are drawing we talk about what is art and what isn’t, or what makes art art (for many of the children, they draw the same thing over and over every time, without trying something new – for lack of stimulation?). In a few days I’m going to the prison again for a “big celebration,” where each child will get an orange and a pencil for Christmas. For the most part, I’m staying focused on getting to know the children better individually… and trying to get enough sleep – no easy feat when sunburned and covered in mosquito bites! Though I’ve been here for three weeks, at times things seem so unstructured and chaotic that it still feels like I’m settling in. I also apologize for the questionable quality of these and the most recent photos. The kids love playing with my camera so they are responsible for the large majority of them.


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