This morning, the children all arrived early at the centre. It was raining lightly, which means there is less activity in the market and less work to do. Most children carry loads on their heads or run errands for traders to earn some money. After that, they either walk to SAP or take the bus when they can afford it.
At SAP, the first thing they have to do is to take a bath and to wash their clothes. After that, they receive their breakfast. Today, one of the boys tried to be smart and did 'wash and wear': he put on a shirt that he had just washed, because yesterday he didn't do so. As we are training the children to think ahead, this was of course not accepted, and he had to wait for his breakfast for a while...
After breakfast, the children come to the classroom and spend the rest of the morning with their teachers. They all work individually, and do every day some reading, some writing exercises and some mathematics.
It is wonderful to see how noisy and hyperactive children calm down as soon as they are given a task they like and which falls within their abilities. Sometimes, the whole class is quiet! But anything can stir up things, and one disturbance often causes a chain reaction!
Most children are now learning the letters and reading small words. We use the phonics method, but blending sounds into words remains difficult. Mathematics is somehow easier, as long as it is the 'automatic' tasks of addition and subtraction. Beyond that, a lot of children also get stuck.
Around noon, the children eat their hot meal. They learn also to eat in a clean environment, and to take care of their eating utensils.
The rest of the afternoon is mostly spend on games or watching a film. A lot of children take a nap, to make up for the lack of sleep during the night on the streets. After 3PM, they start preparing to leave, and the centre closes for the day.
The average age of the present group is 13 to 14 years. Most children have spend several years on their own in the streets, and for some this is their first positive experience with education.
However, after learning for some months, most children become restless again, and want to move on into employment to make money. But, due to their learning problems, their general skills level is often too low to be able to go into job training. We need an in-between solution, which allows children more time to develop and to gain more skills and stability. That's why we want to add practicals to the programme, so that there is more variety and more than only academic learning.
The idea is to design learning assignments in various professional fields, so that children can try their hands on different practical skills. For example: they can practise cutting wood, or learn how to boil and egg. In the proces, they have to measure, to keep track of time and to manage the materials they are working with. For this purpose, we need more materials and have to re-design the learning environment.
We hope you will support us to realise our plans, and to give these children a second chance in life!