By Morgan Zielinski
Sunday, January 5, 2014
By Morgan Zielinski
One of my most ambitious goals in life is to work with a non-profit organization in Africa, which focuses primarily on children. When this trip gave me the opportunity to pursue that dream, I jumped. Although I only spent two days interning at Street Sisters Daycare Center, those are two days that will never be forgotten.
Street Sisters Daycare is an organization that is run by five women; the owner of the daycare, three, teachers, and one cook. The children range from age two to about age seven and attend the daycare Monday through Friday. The daycare also functions as a school, which is broken up into classes by age group. The children start their day by playing on the playground for a few hours. They then break up into their classrooms to learn the curriculum set up for that day. Lunch is served a couple hours later and is followed by nap-time.
The most unforgettable and emotionally overwhelming moment while being at the daycare was the moment three of my colleagues and I arrived. The large gate at the entrance of the daycare was opened for us by one of the teachers and the taxi driver proceeded to slowly pull into the entrance. Seconds later, dozens of children swarmed around the car chanting in unison, “Oburoni, oburoni!” Their smiling faces were full of pure joy and I could not believe how excited they were to welcome four strangers into their daycare and school. As we got out of the car, the children latched onto all four of us and wanted nothing other than to be next to one of us. At this point my heart was filled with joy and my eyes began to fill with tears, I will truly never forget this moment.
While being at the daycare for two days, my colleagues and I discussed some differences that we saw between the children at the daycare and a generalization of children in the U.S. One major observation that I made was that children at the daycare were far more independent in comparison to children in the U.S. The teachers sat in their classrooms while the children played on their own. There was minimal supervision, which first seemed odd, until I realized that the children did not need the supervision. Arguments between the children were settled among themselves and crying children were taken care of either by other children, or by themselves. This was fascinating to observe because the level of maturity and independence of these children was shown greatly in these situations.
Another observation that I made was that the children were extremely respectful of their elders. They ran freely during their time on the playground, but as soon as one of their teachers gave them an order, they listened immediately. When being served lunch, all children had to wait to start eating their food until everyone received a meal and a prayer was said. I was shocked to see every single child wait patiently for the prayer without touching their food.
Lastly, I observed that these kids had the biggest hearts. They were so eager to learn everything about us. They wanted to touch our hair and wanted to know why we looked different from them. They wanted to teach us the games they played and songs they sang. They wanted to embrace every moment with us as much as we wanted to embrace our time with them. Something about the simplicity and innocence of these children made me fall in love with them in just two short days. They had no idea who we were, or where we came from, but all they wanted to do was sit on our laps, hold our hands, and hold them.
Being in the presence of those children for just two days evoked feelings within me that are indescribable. Interacting with them made me look at my life in a completely new light, while opening my mind and changing my perceptions in many ways. I feel as though I learned so much within the time spent at the daycare that I will carry with me throughout my life. The children at the daycare may not have understood who we were or why they were there, and they probably wont remember us for very long, but I will remember those kids for the rest of my life. I will never forget their smiling faces or the relationships I got to form with them in just two days. Being at the daycare made being part of this trip to Ghana completely worth it for me. The children that I met will never leave my memory and will forever hold a spot in my heart.