So this coming week is an interesting one as it marks six months of living in India and six months working and volunteering with the kids in the slum. As is usually the case, in some ways it feels like I have been out here forever and in others it's hard to believe that I have known these particular kids for six months.
I've always had a great relationship with them and they have been warm and playful with me but these last six weeks the children have become much more affectionate towards me. They love to come and snuggle up with me and give me hugs and hold my hand. Recently we played a game of shops, where the children had to try out their money handling skills and counting. It was great fun and made me laugh as so many of them wanted to buy me things from our shop because they didn't want me to do without.
It's also funny to look back at some of the children and see, not only how far they have progressed but how much they have changed as children. There are a core bunch who come almost every day and who, as time has gone on absolutely love coming everyday, they try hard and want to learn and you realise how much their behaviour has improved. They no longer want to climb the school walls or constantly fight, in fact the only children who do that are the ones that rarely come to school but come every now and then so have not learnt how to behave or respect our new school rules.
When I first started, these kids weren't particularly interested in coming to school, where as for the last three or four months they will come running to school and want to know what we will be doing that day. They will actively ask for work. Recently I have been teaching them how to write their name and the big challenge next, is teaching them how to read, which is going to be tough considering I only know some Hindi myself, but teaching these kids to read could open up a whole new world for them.
Their counting has improved, as has their social skills and creativity. We have been teaching them a little English to help them get by and we have been teaching them through so many different methods, from pretend money to playdough, to making music out of old bottles, to counting using a ball, to learning the alphabet through snap games. It's hard to believe we have been working together for six months and the impact and importance they have on my life. I absolutely love them, they are a joy to work with and when your having a crappy day, that look of recognition and happiness on their face as they walk into school and see you is priceless.
These children make my day and I hope in some small way, I make theirs too because I can't change their situation and the life laid before them but I can help to give them an amazing experience now and if I can teach them something that will improve things for their future, so much the better.