Along with Stephanie, we also have three new reading mediators at the project who passed through a rigorous selection process with over 50 candidates. One of them is Ryan, a 17 year old young man just starting the last year of high school and who is, in his words, returning to ACER: "I wanted to become part of this project in order to develop my independence and also help out at home (financially) and especially to return to ACER which held an important and central place in my childhood."
He has very much enjoyed coming back to our community centre and meeting up with staff he has known before, now as a colleague. After doing their initial training, the group had started giving their first story telling sessions at our community centre (as schools remain closed due to the pandemic) when, due to the worsening Covid situation, ACER had to close its centre and once again we have had to move online. This, for Ryan, has been extremely challenging "the most difficult thing for me has been having to film sessions from home. I have never done this before and am not comfortable with cameras, but I have insisted and gradually I am getting there!"
There has however been a new opportunity which he has enjoyed much more; with the centre closed, all the staff and youth monitors have gone out to the community to the homes of the families to interview them on their doorsteps with rigorous sanitary care being taken. In Ryan's words "I have really enjoyed doing the survey, I went to about 10 houses which are not far from where I live but with people I didn't know before. The people received us really well and were pleased to reply to all the questions we asked and for me it was nice to know that they live (really challenging) lives very similar to me, no better, no worse."
So even with unexpected challenges, we are still finding new ways to help develop the young men and women from the project and better prepare them for adult life and the different jobs they will have one day.
10 year old Ryan at the centre
Story telling with objects for the camera