Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Haiti Day 4 morning (July 5)

 This morning we did a street VBS with the kids in the neighborhood around the mission.  This is the church where we had the VBS (it is in the process of being scraped and repainted).
This is the view from the church's front windows...gorgeous!!
We didn't have a lot of information about what we were supposed to do during this VBS, but we planned some songs and a story and some activities for the kids.  Because there are so many kids in the area, we passed out tickets and only kids with a ticket could come.  We had about 100 kids there.
It started out great.  We sang songs that the kids knew in Creole, and then they all listened intently as Jody and our interpreter Clark told the story of Creation.

Then we made bracelets with the kids and let them go on their own to complete some painting and coloring activities.  We also walked around painting faces.  This is where things started to get a little bit crazy.

I started to see that we were going to have problems as I was passing out crayons, and I noticed several kids were hoarding all the crayons. Many were putting them in their pockets, and then asking for another one.  We quickly ran out of crayons, and the kids were starting to push each other and us in an attempt to find more.

Around here, a single crayon is practically a piece of trash.  We just threw out a ton of crayons at our church because we had an over abundance.  But with these kids in Haiti, a single crayon was a precious treasure that they all wanted as their own.  It was a reminder of what life is like for these kids.  In a world where they have very little and they don't know when/if they will ever get more, they take what they can get when they can get.  It is a matter of survival. I wouldn't be surprised to see some of those crayons get resold in a market somewhere! 

The kids did love getting their faces painted, but we ran into some of the same problems with kids pushing us and each other as they wanted more and more pictures painted on them (faces, arms, even chests!).
We finally decided it was probably time to call it quits before things got too crazy.  Our final plans for the morning were to pass out bubbles and suckers to the kids.  That is when things really got out of control.  I was trying to pass out bubbles to the kids, but it was almost impossible with so many hands in my face.  Again, there was the problem of the kids pocketing the bubbles and then asking for more.  I was grateful to this Haitian man who took over the passing out process for me.

Liz and Bruce were holding their own trying to get the bubbles passed out without getting knocked over.  Also, at some point during this process the gates were opened and MORE kids from the neighborhood came running in.  So now we had the problem of not having enough to give to everyone.
Once we started passing the suckers out, Jody did get knocked to the ground and trampled on as the kids stampeded to the gate to get the suckers.  It felt very much like a riot, and it was extremely different from what we had envisioned when we planned a fun VBS for the kids.

We learned a lot from this morning.  It was frustrating because we want to help these kids, and we didn't feel like we helped them in any way this morning.  It really was an eye-opening picture about what life is like for these kids.  They live in a world where there is never enough for everybody.  They also live close to the mission, so they live in a world where Americans are frequently around to pass out handouts.  They have learned that it is necessary to take what they can get when they get it...no matter what.  It is a sad but real fact of their lives.

If we were to do this street VBS again, we would change several things.  The singing and story time went great.  The kids were so polite and attentive and eager to sing and listen.  The problems began when we brought out all of the "stuff."  Next time, I think we would avoid bringing any material items to use with the kids.  It just caused too many problems.  We want to help these kids.  We want to be kind and generous and give them treats.  But at the same time, these kids are fairly used to Americans giving them things.   Passing out handouts (here on the street at least, it was totally different at the orphanage) seemed to only cause more problems rather than helping anyone.  Singing and telling stories and playing games without "stuff" would be much more effective.  Next time, we will know!!

As far as the VBS this morning goes, I hope and pray that the kids will be able to remember the story of Creation and not all the craziness and pushing that went along with us passing out stuff to them.


Elisabeth said...

they're always repainting that church lol

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