This past Tuesday afternoon marked the fourth week of English Club, a new initiative which was the brainchild of Jess Cropsey. The idea behind English Club is to get to know our neighbours better by serving and building relationships with kids in the community.
Each Tuesday, forty-five kids from Kibuye come along with Madame Frederique and Madame Therèse, two teachers from the local Burundian school, and meet several adults and kids from our team in the large pavilion at the centre of the compound. From 3:30-4:30 they rotate through four stations, each fifteen minutes long. There is a colouring station, a reading station with picture books from the school, a conversation station, and a games station. The children are divided into groups based on age and the kids from our team help out with the kids in (or close to) their age group. The ages range from about six to twelve.
I lead the conversation station. So far, it seems to be going well! After learning basic English greetings, we have been working on some simple verbs (run, sit, jump) and colours. Last week we made bracelets with a bead of each colour that we have learned about, which was a hit with the kids. My Kirundi is minimal, but Madame Therèse and Madame Frederique are there to help me give instructions when needed. Though I hope that learning some English will be a blessing to the kids (it is a useful language to know for business and work), mostly I hope that this club will be an opportunity to get to know them a little bit. It has been a goal of mine to learn all of the children's names and it has been a blessing to begin to see them around the community as I walk up to the hospital or through the village. Many are children of people who work for the team or the hospital, and it has been meaningful to connect with parents more through getting to know their kids.
One of the best parts is seeing many of the kids from the team interacting with kids from the community. Susan tells the team kids every Tuesday before the club starts that the goal is to "make a new friend" and, though relationships take time, through positive initiatives like this, slowly they are being built.