When we realized there was a need among our Sunday School members for help with their school projects. They had many practical projects, such as making a car, a bird feeder, a model house, etc, and no resources. Their parents work from dawn to dusk (literally) and so cannot help these young kids complete their homework. The kids then do what they can but still get bad grades and an undeserved reputation as being lazy.
We started bringing a group of about 5 kids home each Wednesday afternoon, providing basic resources such as cardboard, tins, bottles, colored paper and encyclopaedia. They still did their own work – but now had the opportunity to do it well! The difference it made in their attitude toward school and the boost achieving better grades gave their self confidence was incredibly rewarding to see!
The idea grew:
Since we had these kids every Wednesday we thought it would be nice for them to learn to play music – so we introduced recorder classes. By this time there were about 7 kids and they loved the music lessons, surprising us by how quickly they learned to play. In fact by the end of the year 3 of them each performed a music piece at our end-of-year concert!
Toward the end of the term they have less homework, which provided us the opportunity to teach them various board games, build puzzles and read books. On hot sunny days they swam in our pool or used the “slippery slide” (essentially a big sheet of plastic lathered with soapy water to slide over). Since most of them live in flats, being outside is an absolute novelty and we have to be quite firm before they reluctantly get into the car to go home!
Pretty soon our group was up to 9 as they invited their friends and siblings along. We are very grateful for these little helpers when we have to make up our monthly food parcels (which is now over 100 per month)! They do the job in record time and love it – commenting on how it is just like working in a shop!
Another great thing that has come out of this venture is that the kids have learned to trust us, almost to the point where we are the parental figures in their lives. They have confided many of their fears (such as peer pressure re drinking) and sorrows (parents divorcing), and also their joys (getting a lead part in the school play, visiting a theme park as a school outing) with us. Their teachers have even resorted to contacting us re behavioral problems when they have been unable to reach the parents. This is of course a great responsibility which we carry prayerfully, always hoping that our example will inspire them to remain as innocently faithful as they now are.
In that we see these this little group of kids every Wednesday and Sunday we get to know them really well, and they are obviously the first we think of when people offer things like trips to a wolf sanctuary, the zoo, etc. It has been heart-warming to see them enjoy these experiences, which they would otherwise never have. One of the highlights this year was being able to take 3 of the group (the others are still too young) to our annual youth camp. They loved every minute – whether they were in class, swimming, playing table tennis, participating in group games, or just socializing over a meal. Karabo even won the talent show with her beautiful singing!
The pool was the place to be in the hot summer weather!
Tumi proved to be a table tennis natural – soon beating even experienced players!
Participating in the biblical treasure hunt @ Camp Braambos.
Camp Braambos Group Photograph – spot the youngest attendee (Zante!)
We are indeed looking forward to doing the same and more with and for these kids in the coming year, as they have earned a special place in our hearts.
Michael & Lilandi
But Jesus said, “Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Mat 19:14