It’s definitely an interesting word. Especially when working in developing countries. It has been a word on my mind for the past few days so here is my chance to share my thoughts
When you drastically change your surroundings -like going to a different country you bring so many assumptions with you. About how you have lived your whole life with things that have always been there, this is when you face your real challenges in exploring; trying to understand these differences- what we take for granted.
For example, When I was in school I was granted access to expressive arts, we did drama as part of the curriculum, art, dance. These classes were in rooms designed for this, the teachers were knowledgable and encouraging. We had a clear structure and tools to achieve greatness. My parents were always there to support me and I had opportunities out of school to dance and express myself.
These are all assumptions in which I believed everyone had. Everyone I knew so far. It is only through traveling and participating in Performers Without Borders projects that I came to realise that not everyone has these opportunities. I was lucky to be born in the Uk, where we provide these skills and opportunities to our children.
I remember a great analogy in which a teacher was trying to show the chance ‘success’ of different people in different countries to his students.
He had them sat in their classroom, their chairs dotted about the room, he gave them each a piece of paper and put a basket at the front of the room. He asked them all to crumple up their paper and throw their paper in the basket.
The students at the front could easily get their paper in the basket, the students at the back had a big challenge get their paper in the basket, this exercise demonstrates how some people have a good chance of success, while others have much more of a challenge on their hands
In my experience as a teacher in Kenya so far, I have seen children so hungry to learn ways to express themselves but without the tools to do so. They have such limited access to teachers, space, equipment and knowledge. Once these children have a safe place to stay, enough food to eat, then they can start to build on their knowledge of other things.
This week we have been working in a centre for boys rescued from the streets the charity ‘Kwetu Home’. These children have been abandoned or run away from their families, they have had to survive, find food, shelter and have sometimes resorted to drugs to mentally escape from their situation. They have had to do this all as children, they have so far lived a very hard life at a young age.
I have learnt so much from spending time with them during our workshops. They are bright and energetic, they absolutely love playing games and laughing. This past week I have been teaching them slack lining- a tight wide line in between two trees to walk across and they have loved it! I have been teaching them to trust themselves to balance, encouraging them to support each other across the line, to keep their eyes up and focus.
Their given was that they are abandoned, the charity that rescued them gave them safety and security. We are here to grant them skills and knowledge.
I am so happy to be helping these wonderful children fulfil their potential in juggling, dancing, bringing freedom and exercise in tumbling, dexterity and perseverance in juggling, teamwork and trust in Acrobalance and slack lining. I hope we can show the worth in pursuing all of these forms of art, expression and learning, because of all the worth it has been to me.
I hope that we can grant these children a glimpse of a more expressive world because their ‘given’s’
So from ‘Givens’ I’d like to give, from being given to sharing.
Thanks for listening
Written By Abi Cooper