Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Final days in the Slums

by Jenny Samad, GPM-Entwine fellow winter 2013, an extract from her personal blog - Jan 7, 2014

“ This past week was our last in the slums and I cannot believe how fast time flew by the past few months. We taught about heroes this week and tried to present to the kids a few influential people from around the world, different ages, genders and time periods to inspire them. On Monday, we discussed the story of Malala the girl in Pakistan who defied the Taliban ruling which forbids girls to go to school. We set up a mock debate and split the kids into two groups and had one group represent the Taliban and the other Malala. Obviously everyone wanted to be on team Malala but it was interesting to see what the Taliban group came up with in their defense and I was really impressed with their creativity. On Tuesday we taught them about the Paralympics swimmer Ellie Simmons and stressed how one can achieve her dreams even when faced with difficult obstacles. We spoke about Tagore, a popular Indian poet who advocated for freedom during British imperialism in India. As he was the author of the Indian national anthem the kids stood up proudly to sing it for us; it was really cute. On Wednesday, we talked about Gandhi and his influence in India and around the world. We started the class with a little skit to illustrate Gandhi’s message of nonviolence with two of us acting like British and two of us representing India. We began the class by storming into the classroom with sticks screaming and clawing at each other. In the heat of the battle, Debbie, dressed with shawl and staff came quietly between both groups and shouted “Bass!” (the Hindi word for ‘Enough!). She continued with “brothers, sisters is this solving anything? BASS! Stop the violence!” Then we all hugged and bowed. A very dramatic performance if I may say so.
Thursday was our last day of class. So hard. We made a kind of graduation ceremony for the kids where we called each child up to the front of the class and presented them with a certificate, pencil, eraser and chocolate. It was really adorable how excited they got about receiving these small gifts. Then the class presented us with little gifts. In one class I got a light up Ganesh (the elephant headed god) and in the other class, a little snow globe. The day was really emotional and as we were saying goodbye I started tearing up and when one kid came to comfort me I just lost it. This set off some of the other volunteers until we were all in tears. I swear I saw tears in one of the teacher’s eyes too.

Looking back, my time working in the slums has been so incredible and leaving these children is not going to be easy.”