Activities Group

 

The last week I was there in Honduras, I was assigned to help with the “activities group.” The kids had all just finished school, so we were assigned to visit most of the houses to play with and do activities with them. We would plan an activity for the whole week and adapt it to the different age groups. The first house we visited was the small girls. We had planned to do “Olympiadas” with a series of races and contests like tug-of-war or wheelbarrow race. We split the girls into 2 teams and colored flags. Then we started the games. It is very difficult to keep 20 6- 9 year-old girls in line. Eventually it deteriorated to Duck Duck Goose and Red Light- Green Light, and then at the end we took all the girls on a walk. As we were taking a short cut up the side of a steep hill, one of the girls stopped to show me a ground cover plant. When she first pointed it out, I couldn’t perceive anything special about it. She then bent down and touched it, and the tiny plants closed up around her finger. She and the other girls gently tapped one after another until most of the tiny plants had curled up.

“Why do they do that?” I asked her, trying to pull out her child’s imagination, “Are they afraid?”

“No,” she answered quite confidently, “They are sleeping.”

The inside of a child’ mind is so fascinating and precious.

On our second day of activities, we went to the small boys. This house of 6- 10 year- old boys had become my adopted house. I would spend many of my breaks and Sundays with them. We found them to be much more competitive than the girls, a and also much more organizable as a whole, but we had also learned from our experience at the small girl’s house and split up the house of 60 boys into smaller groups of 15. We brought each team in and colored flags and played game for about 45 minutes each. We would ask each group of 2 teams what they wanted they wanted their name to be. Originally coming in we imagined that they would say names like, “the dolphins” or “The Cool Kids.” Instead inevitably they chose their favorite soccer teams. Overwhelmingly they would chose Barcelona, but they would also often chose Honduras or Olympia. One team chose “Real Madrid” to my hart’s joy! I mentioned once, when he other team had chosen Barce first, that we could be “Los Tigres.” The kids liked the idea, but they thought it was kind of strange and funny.

On my last day with the activities group, we went to the medium boys yard. These boys are usually passed over for younger kids by the teams and sometimes even the volunteers as they span the ages of 11 to 14, and so are not quite so young and cute as some of the smaller age groups. I found, however, that they were just as needy of attention as the younger kids. We debated playing Olympics, but there were too few of them, so we just took out the soccer balls for them to play with. We kicked around balls, and did some tricks, or they did tricks and taught some to me. Many of them were really skilled with a ball. One 11 year-old could juggle a ball up to 75 times using foot, knee, and head. I spent the most time with 2 boys who taught me some tricks and showed me all of theirs. I got a bottle of soda, and we would set reachable challenges that if they achieved, I would give them an agreed upon amount of soda. By the end the boys had the whole bottle of soda and had broken many of their own records. I had poured the soda into 2 bottles, but they poured it into one to glory in the full, heavy bottle of soda. They then generously poured out some and gave it to me. I saw a side of them that most people hadn’t seen because I saw how generous they were when they had something to give. There was a deep sense of comradely in the knowledge of great feats accomplished and prizes won, and I was so honored that they invited me to share in this with them. There were so many children at the Orphanage whom I would meet and hang out with who were really extraordinary. They were funny, thoughtful, talented, or smart, but lacked the space, materials, or attention to really bloom, but for the few moments I was with them, I would glimpse their potential. I would get a distinct feeling of privilege mixed with a confusion as to why I had been allowed to see it.