Monday, 7 August 2017

A Reflection of July 2017

by Naima Thompson

Reaching the Unreachable from Turkey to Tobago

Volunteerism fosters human connections and the belief that one individual can make a visible, meaningful difference. Necessary Arts benefits from the generosity of our volunteers year round. Summer 2017 was no different as our volunteers worked around the globe in: Gaziantep, Turkey; Grand Riviere, Trinidad; Buccoo, Tobago; and Kampala, Uganda. As the vacation draws to a conclusion, it is important to reflect upon our experiences with the Help a Friend program, noting how we can grow and improve; thereby, helping our sites to do the same.

Our Turkey volunteer team consisted of: Naima, Natasha, Theresa, Buket, and Ozge who spent considerable time looking for learning at one dedicated site. When the learning was observed, it was brilliant. However, the teaching staff and administration would benefit from further professional development, resulting in a more orderly, or perhaps less chaotic, environment for the betterment of the children’s learning.
Our Trinidad volunteer team consisted of: Naima, Allyson, Cheryl, Gregor, Robert and Sophie who brought together a community hungry for the opportunity to work together. Grand Riviere would benefit greatly from the continued support of a performing arts organization to brings students together to accomplish a common goal. Unfortunately, no leadership was available to have a conversation about sustainability of such a program. Necessary Arts plans to return next year to work with the children, as well as to have a conversation with the school principal to select an adult from the community who is eager to work remotely with Necessary Arts to build and sustain the program in our absence.

Our Tobago volunteer team consisted of Naima, Allyson, Cheryl, Gregor, Patrice, Lydia, and Melinda. Our Reach the Unreachable program strives to transform its participants. At the conclusion of our four day program with YAHWEH Foundation, such a transformation was experienced by the student members of the community and was witnessed by the leaders of the community.  The result of such awe excites Necessary Arts to continue working with these participants. We aim to remotely mentor a dedicated older member of the community to continue working in our absence.In an unexpected site visit to the Mello Tones pan yard we had the opportunity to work with the children for an hour before it was clear that we will partner with local NGO's to service this community in Les Coteaux, Tobago.

Our Uganda volunteer team consisted of Teddy and friends. This project represents the ideal Necessary Arts is seeking... what Necessary Arts must become. Teddy returned home to Kampala this summer, and sought out members of her own community who would benefit from one of the Reach the Unreachable programs. She researched, asked questions, found a community of street children, received funding, and rolled out a stimulating one day program, which included sharing a healthy meal with each participant. Teddy exemplifies the type of volunteer we seek. She fostered human connections within her own community, and made a visible, meaningful difference.

All four sites confirmed that when an opportunity arises for an educator to look for and find learning in a young person, we are blessed to witness a transformation that changes that person’s life and thinking, opening their minds to new perspectives and ideas. For our volunteers to witness and experience this in their work is the ultimate reward at the end of a workshop.

Necessary Arts is proud to see its program adapt from one site to the next. The first 15 minutes of meeting a new group of students, getting to know them, and then mentally organizing the perfect workshop is a huge challenge, but this is what it’s all about.  Our participants accept every challenge we propose. Chaos may dominate at times, but eventually order ensues and transformations occur.

Necessary Arts stimulates minds through artistic expression. We never stop.  We keep on keeping on; proving the necessity of sustainability and longevity at each site.

Thank you to all our volunteers and participants in the Help a Friend outreach program from Turkey to Tobago.

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