A day on the community program in Shimoni is always busy. We teach English, maths and life skills at primary and secondary schools, have choir and wildlife club, adult English, and a lot more. However, out of all the activities, reading in the village has got to be my favourite.
We take a big pile of children’s books and walk to our regular spot in the village, which is under a big tree next to the mosque. When the kids see us walking with all our books, they already know what’s going to happen and so they start following us through the village, holding our hands and trying to grab the books from us. Arriving at our reading spot, all the kids sit down on some old truck tires and take a book to read.
A lot of the kids we read with are not in school since we usually read in the village during the morning, and so most of them barely speak any English and can’t read. Therefore I usually like to take a book with lots of pictures to point out animals and objects and teach them the numbers and colours in English. The kids always eagerly repeat after you and will sometimes try to teach you the words in Swahili as well.
However, now that the schools are on holiday, there’s more children coming for reading in the village that know a bit of English and can actually read. Some of them read out stories to you, looking up at you all the time to see if they’re saying it right. Others like listening to you reading while they’re looking at the pictures.
After about an hour of reading, most kids start getting a bit restless. Some of the girls will start braiding your hair – they like touching it because it’s so different from theirs – and so I always come home with the prettiest hair. Usually our reading session ends with all the kids singing songs with us and dancing around or playing games, which is always great fun.
When it’s time to go back home, I always feel completely relaxed and happy again, no matter how busy the day has been. If I had a stressful class I sometimes go reading in the village afterwards, which always makes a smile appear on my face again. So yes, reading in the village is definitely the best part of my day!
Lisanne Spruit – Community Field Staff Shimoni