Sunday, 29 March 2015

"I thank Him because He promised she will come back, and she came back!"

Our J.E.H.O Family
Miriam, a widowed mother caring for 43 orphans, lives in a 3 bedroom flat located above the church. She shares her tiny bedroom with Grace, found in a field near the airport by the pastor of the church on Easter morning one year ago, abandoned within the first 24 hours of her life. The front bedroom holds 12 sets of bunk beds for the girls, while the identical back bedroom houses the boys.  Firewood continues to smoke from the kitchen where warm porridge has just been served to the youngest children, while fresh chapatti is being prepared in the stairwell for tonight's supper.

The Social Setting of Our Outreach Beneficiaries
Upon entering Pipeline via a rough and dusty road, one is overwhelmed by the colors and sounds emerging from the plethora of tenement buildings also known as "vertical semi-slums".  Laundry is hanging outside every balcony, while silent wishes are expressed that the clothing not fall, for it is known the item of clothing would never be recuperated.  Trash dresses every bumpy, muddy rut with colorful plastic bags in red, blue and yellow as its accessories.  The street level is full of entrepreneurs selling everything from fresh tomatoes to phone cards, working along side a herd of roaming cattle.  Despite the harsh reality of living in Pipeline, the doors of JEHO were opened widely and lovingly, inviting us into the warmth of the church and home.

The Psychological Setting of Our Outreach Beneficiaries
The harsh and dark physical environment in which one enters the home is a complete juxtaposition to the smiles, warm greetings, and laughter that emanates from the children who are standing on each step and behind every curve of the dimly lit hallway. The family survives with the barest essentials; yet even with just one set of clothing, and no books or toys for stimulation, it is no wonder that these children grow and thrive due to the abundance of care that Miriam offers, along with a strong spirit of respect and dignity.  Each child, with a name of Gift, Faith, Blessing, or Grace, has access to a small Bible which appears to be the only tangible tool for learning literacy within the home. The young girls recite Bible verses verbatim and the boys sing and dance with full devotion to the music played by them, on the electric keyboard that is used for the church services.  The presence of God lives in the house and within each member of its extended family.

Our PsychoSocial Work
Today, we presented Necessary Arts' (NA) third series of humanitarian arts workshops to the children. In an attempt to look for understanding, we began the session by asking the students to write down their favorite learning memories from the previous workshops. The students commented on the activities in which they participated, highlighting the acting, singing and dancing.  Several students spoke fondly of singing "Mary Had a Little Lamp".  In addition, they shared what life lessons they learned: "we should have confidence", "behave in a good manner", and "respect our elders".

Their students' written work ended with messages of:  "May you continue with the spirit of helping orphans", "Our love to you shall never end", "May the good Lord bless you", and "May God reward you abundantly".  The children's' faith and love is genuine and present in their every word and action, and these learned behaviors have roots right here at Jeho, transferred directly from Miriam's heart and soul to the children.  It is apparent that 43 children go to sleep each night knowing they are loved.  By growing up on a home full of goodness, imagine the positive impact they will make upon community, society, and humanity.

NA is operating as an educational humanitarian organization with the motto to stimulate minds through artistic expression, to empower students to reach their full potential, and to become confident, productive, innovative contributors. The Reach the Unreachable project focuses on the singular objective to foster global citizenship among today's youth from multicultural and multilingual backgrounds. Through the theatre arts, we promote personal development through creative expression.  Students demonstrate this to us through their words, songs, dances, and overall eagerness to participate.  Through literacy development, we promote successful communication in the English language. Students demonstrate this to us through their word choice and tidy penmanship.

NA has been working with this group of children for one year, and while I cannot yet confirm the students are able to exhibit strong leadership, critical thinking, and innovation, while making positive contributions to a global society, it is evident that based upon their positive upbringing, along with NA enhancing their life skills, learning is most definitely taking place.  These could in fact be the small steps that allow the children the opportunity to grow and develop into global citizens.  No matter one's background, upbringing, language, culture, spiritual beliefs, and so on, we are all connected, and it is through this connectedness th
at our global society will thrive.

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