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How I Set Out To Help Children Coming From Poor Families
I will, I won't, I will, I won't... I'm finally doing it!
The group of companies I work for introduced a new CSR scheme and that's to give employees a choice of how they want to aid the society. While others preferred to contribute by giving money to some organisation or offering lunch/dinner to homes, I chose to give an hour each fortnight to kids coming from low Socio-Economic Status (SES) families. I was quite scared at first, because my colleagues told me "haaaawwww, those kids are not hygienic, they talk rudely, they don't have manners and respect for others..." I curse myself today for having most probably believed them at first as I had considered changing my choice of activity for some seconds.
Meeting them for the first time
The first Thursday came. I had to meet with them and had never been so scared. Not even when I have meetings with companies' most dreadful chairmen and directors. I reached the region. It was a region I've never visited before. I heard many things about that region... not necessarily positive. I wanted to tell the driver, let's go back to the office. Just then, a lil boy who seemed to have been waiting by the door, shouted "LINE VINI!" before running inside. I froze. I heard "yays, calmez-vous, hahahas" from inside. I left the car.
Getting inside with my high heels and office clothes intimidated them. Most of the girls were looking at my feet, while the lil guys were looking at the mobile in my hand. I followed their gaze and realised that if I want to befriend the hippo, I need to learn how to hold my breath under water. crap expression but hope you got what I meant to say. I felt awkward, I introduced myself and they did same. I got a call, said I'll come back next week as I have to rush. Before leaving, I turned and said "Next week, be ready. We will make something very yummy!!" And they cheered as I walked away.
Cookie-ing without baking. Wait, without baking?
The next Thursday, I changed my clothes in office. I wore slippers, jeans and t-shirt. I felt more at ease with the kids, with eyes meeting mine while I talked, instead of my hands and feet. I made the kids put all the tables together to make an e n o r m o u s square to be used as kitchen table. They all rushed to wash their hands clean – which nicely shocked me. I even cursed my colleague for saying they are not hygienic. As they stood around the assembled table, I divided them into three groups: Hands-in-dough, Form-makers and Decorators. They were all excited, I can’t even describe their glittering eyes. I then opened my big bag slowly to create more suspense, removed a dozen boxes of Biscuits Marie, cocoa powder, cans of condensed milk, grated coconut and several types of decorations (vermicelli, golden sugar strands, castor sugar, chocolate bits). I started by putting the quantities required in three bowls while some little chefs rolled the biscuits with rolling pin to make fine bread crumbs. “Miss, li bon la? Miss miss, encore?” – that’s all I could hear. Then I asked 3 strong students to come forward and mix up the dough. The “bad guys” of the class came to me and seeing those “bullies” with hands in dough made all of them laugh. Once dough was made, the form makers started to make little hearts or cookies and passed on to decorators who sprinkled different beautifiers on the cookies. I had brought small wooden sticks, showed them how to make truffle-like-balls and we inserted the stick in the truffle to make gorgeous and mouth-watering bouquet of truffles. I’ve just one regret that I’ve not been able to snap this lovely moment with those kids. Some started cleaning their tables and class while others went to offer cookies to their teachers, as it was Valentines' period. After that, we all sat and appreciated the cookies… rolling our eyes and making uhhhms, hmms and miaaaams. The unbaked cookie recipe I used is from here: Unbaked Cookies - Cocoa Truffles
Old t-shirts turned into bags is an eco-act
Don’t use plastic bags, use PAPER Bags. Yeah, cut millions of trees and make paper bags which we cannot even re-use or recycle properly! Why not teach our next generation how to contribute to the nature fun ways?! We all have a t-shirt which we no more wear yet we can’t see it being given or thrown away; just like that song which we skip each time but we won’t delete it from our playlist. HENCE, 15 days later I went again to meet my kids (yeah, I feel like a mummy of 25 kids now). I had asked them to bring an old t-shirt and thinking they wouldn’t remember, I had brought spare t-shirts with me. To my surprise, all of them had a t-shirt as I had asked with hems and rims along with scissors – though they didn’t know what we were going to do with them. We cut, tied, cut again, tied again until one of them exclaimed “Hey, woaaaaw!” Everyone looked at her holding her bag on her shoulder. She looked at me, everyone looked at me... I smiled and clapped, everyone clapped and laughed. Everyone hurried to finish their bags. We had a m a z i n g bags! Big ones, small ones, large ones which could be worn side-ways, colourful ones, Adidas ones – JUST lovely! Again, Happiness couldn’t come without Messy. I had given the driver my phone to snap the kids, and he wrongly clicked on video recording. Now I have like 40 videos of 2-3 seconds duration. The one I took myself was for a group of girls coming for benevolent work and who assisted us. I learnt doing the bags from here: DIY Tshirt Bag
It isn’t just a CSR act. It’s more.
Oh My God! I just realized I wrote quite much, out of excitement. Those moments spent with the kids can just be felt. It’s like, a little voice tells you: “Hey, SLOW down! Your life pace is exceeding speed limits, it’s high time to change gear, relax and go smooth”. Then come the kids. And you start to feel a slow-down, a balance, a restlessness for the next activity session, a thrilling need to find new things to do... just to see that sparkle in the kids’ eyes on their smiling face which is so contagious that you can’t stop yourself from smiling too.
Amazing but not yetconvinced...where do you actually carry out these fancy activities..I could give you a hand..possibly two..
And which level 1 social class crappy told you that children of poor social class are rude, crassy and unhygienic? I wonder where he got this notion from. I, for an example, defy all these misconceptions..
It's amazing what you do. If more people could spare a little bit of their time helping others, wouldn't the world be a nicer place to live in?
What's the next thing you've got planned for the kids?