By Suzzanne Pautler
Gray skies and a steady stream of raindrops greeted us this morning, the first of our four day Necessary Arts workshop in Bofa village. The activities were to begin at 8:30, and by 8:00, our first participants had arrived. Most were wrapped in the cotton kikoys popular throughout the coastal areas of Kenya. Today, they are often worn by beachgoers and tourists, though I now know they make for great rain protection, too. One very responsible teenager arrived with her two year old brother wrapped to her back with one cloth, and then draped him with an additional kikoy to protect his head and body. Every time I turned around, more and more children arrived to the gate. They arrived early; the rain did not deter. And they brought loads of younger brothers and sisters. I’m already impressed by this group of nearly seventy learners!
Our previous visit to Bofa village (August 2015) focused on the theme of community, which the children defined as: to work for something for the large group, to take responsibility in making it a beautiful place to live. In this morning’s workshop, we talked specifically about the existence of peace and love within this community. We gave each of the children a small, colorful sticky note and a pencil asking half of the group for examples of peace within their community, and the other half, love.
Meanwhile, the children see love in the community “by people doing work together.” One teenager sees love “if you drop your phone and then someone picks it up for you.” Another area where we should see love is, “Like you’re in the field playing with others, then you hurt your friend. You must say ‘sorry’.” The football pitch is another popular location to witness love. “If you are playing football and someone beats you up, just relax and show love to him. Don’t even beat him up.” Finally, as one student succinctly stated, “Love your mother. And your father.”
Perceptions of peace will be our overarching theme throughout the workshops this week. I love the honesty of information shared from a child’s perspective. Tomorrow we aim to write song lyrics based upon how the students defined peace in today’s lesson. We were told to expect double the crowd tomorrow. We can’t stop, won’t stop. Not even in the rain. Peace.