Stuff

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(Showing the kids pictures of their friends from Haude Elementary)

In a previous post I mentioned some of the responses from students at our school after seeing pictures of students in Haiti. One brave student spoke the words that were probably on many minds, “They are sad because they don’t have any stuff like we have.” We had to take a minute to look back through the photos to see if the children in Haiti looked sad. We decided they did not!
I am happy to report that the old phrase, “Money can’t buy happiness” is after all, true! I think we all question that saying from time to time, as we smile over our new shoes and clean furniture. Sure, we don’t need a room full of stuffed animals to be happy, but buying a cold ice cream on a hot day, does create a certain amount of satisfaction, does it not?
As I visited school after school of children learning without pencils and paper, without text books, and even without a pair of matching shoes, I noticed one overriding feeling in the classroom; JOY! These kids were happy kids. They had almost nothing that they needed and yet, they could sing and dance the day away. Without any stuff involved, there was happiness.
My few short days in Haiti filled me with happiness as I looked into the eyes of the children and saw a desire to learn, create, and grow. All that I saw made me ask myself, “What about stuff?” Why do we need our things and our shoes and our furniture so desperately that we would choose to care about things more than people? Are our own collections and trinkets more important than dreams? Do we really need a closet full of clothes so much that we can’t part with some of it in order to change a life for the better?

While the kids of Haiti and I danced the Hokey Pokey, we all learned a little bit more about where happiness comes from.

Pictures of the Heart

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It’s hard to learn to read and write when basic school supplies are out of reach. The kids I visited were beyond excited to use paper and colored pencils. Although it was difficult, they did their best to pass around the colors for everyone to try. It was fun to give them a moment as artists. They have a lot of pictures in their hearts!

In War and Peace

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We had a meeting at Reynolds Elementary on Tuesday. We shared pictures and talked about Haiti, where it is, its’ capital, its’ history, and its’ students! We are also organizing a sanitation kit drive to support our soldiers. Sometimes it’s hard to understand war and peace. We talked about current events and times throughout history that war might have been important in establishing peace and safety for people.

Humanitarians at Haude!

This week we held our first meeting at Haude Elementary! It’s been a while in the making, but it finally happened and it was perfect! Kelly Sells headed up the meeting sharing pictures from our partner school in Haiti. We talked about the similarities and differences that the students noticed between themselves and the Haitian students. “They wear uniforms there, we don’t.” “They grow food in their school garden, we don’t.” “They are sad because they don’t have any stuff like we have.” WAIT!!! Hold the phone! We had to back up to the pictures to see if this was true. When we looked again, we saw lots of smiles! It is something to think about! Can kids be happy without all of the STUFF?? In the end, the students decided it looks like the Haitian students are kids just like them.

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IMG_6344 We wanted to introduce ourselves to our new Haitian friends by making self-protraits. During our upcoming trip to Haiti we will plan on sharing the portraits and making some to bring back!

IMG_6347Some of the students also got a chance to be a humanitarian on the spot during our friendship bracelet making program.  All of the kids got string to make a bracelet to wear as a reminder to be kind, help others, and spread friendship.  Since all of the kids didn’t know how to braid, those who did took the time to help out!  It’s pretty fun to see kids helping kids make friendship bracelets!  We talked about what it means to be a humanitarian and the choice we often have to spread anger or change a situation for the better.  It only seems fair sometimes to push back when we are pushed.  But, as one student put it, that is NOT a solution.  And she is right.  Pushing, name calling, gossip, and disrespect will never end if we just pay it back or spread it around.  We have to stop all of that, decide to change the ripple effect of hate, pass some love around instead.  We decided that we would look for ways to help each other as members of the club, as students at Haude, as community members, and in our families.  Humanitarians!!!

Hard Working Homeschoolers!

A few weekends ago, our group of School Ties homeschoolers hit the park looking to make a difference. These kids worked hard, all the while knowing that their efforts would be helping out a fellow student. The younger kids stayed near the table, but the older ones decided that they would try a different approach. They fixed up a tray of treats and bracelets and targeted large groups of soccer fans. What a smart idea! Little big achievers!

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World Wide Art Show

IMG_6180Yesterday we met with the Cheery Education Centre in Nairobi to share art across classrooms. The children on both sides created, colored, and shared art that they had made previous to the meeting. Each child was given time to share their work and talk about the colors and object chosen. This gave us all a great opportunity to use strong communication skills, work on public speaking, and get to know each other better!
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One interesting thing I noticed throughout the session is that the children are beginning to feel like it is normal to talk with kids around the world. Amazing! I love that they are beginning to feel more comfortable communicating online and that they are growing up with creative ideas in their heads. In today’s world, it can be normal to start your day off chatting with friends in Kenya!