South Africa

Watching Flowers Bloom

Have you ever seen a flower blossom? I don’t mean you plant one of those flower bushes you buy from the local home improvement store in your yard and then a few days later you notice the bud has bloomed. I mean actually dug a hole with your bare hands, planted the flower seed, covered the hole, watered the ground, nurtured the seed as it sprouted from the ground until the first bud appears on the stem. Then at just the right moment the flower petals unfold themselves and open up for the world to admire their beauty.

I had the honor and the privilege to witness that very process today. Not with a flower but with something just as delicate and precious…a child. God really smiled on me today because not only did I witness this blossoming process in one child but 20 children! It was a magnificent sight because for weeks (and months) I struggled with these children to be prepared for this very moment. No we weren’t growing plants, but we were growing minds.

Each term the children in the aftercare program at the center where I volunteer full time work on a project of their choice. The first term in school the children chose the snake for their project. Why the snake…I don’t really know but that is what they all agreed to study. So for the entire term we spent two days each week researching and learning about snakes (specifically snakes that are indigenous to South Africa). We even invited an animal expert to come speak to the students about snakes, and of course he brought along a little friend (although there was nothing little about it). All of this was in preparation and anticipation of our presentation day.

Today was that day! All week long, we practiced presenting their facts and the proper speaking etiquette. All week long, the children were quite nervous about speaking in front of a group, but we kept working and practicing anyways. Then today the most beautiful and fulfilling part of my job happened! I watched all 20 students blossom into confident and proud snake experts!

One after another they walked to the center of the room, surrounded by the other children on one side and the center director, our snake expert, and other guests on the other. They greeted everyone and introduced themselves to the group. Then shared their facts about the snake, whether it was about the snake’s habitat, anatomy, behavior, or diet. Then they displayed their model of a snake and written report. Even though they each spoke for no more than a few seconds, the impact this experience had on each of them will last forever.

They will always remember the time they worked so hard to learn something and was able to confidently showcase their knowledge and hard work. This confidence and achievement is something no one can ever take from them, and believe me they have all suffered greatly in their short time on this earth. But they will carry this with them for the rest of their lives. All of the validation and approval they received from the guests and teachers will hopefully encourage them to believe in themselves when everything and everyone around them tell them they are nothing and will be nothing. Hopefully this day inspires them to dream big and realize their dreams are valid! Hopefully this achievement will just be one of many more achievements they will have in their lives.

Witnessing their never ending smiles and joyful faces is the fuel that keeps me going and wanting to do more. To see them ready to conquer the world is the best high ever! Nothing compares to this. No amount of money, fame, or glory comes close to seeing a child achieve something most adults dread. They conquered their fears and accomplished a goal many of them may have never had.

Today I went home with a beautiful bouquet of flowers…20 to be exact.

God Is Mindful

 

2014-05-15 07.20.48                                            2014-05-15 07.21.07

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