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Helping kids be kids again

Today, as I took a break from a visit to a Save the Children medical clinic in a sprawling tent city that has replaced a posh golf club, a group of smiling, delightful children came to pay me a visit.

Blog photo by Suma Suresh Kids from 8 to 17 wanted to try out their English with me and were patient enough to try and teach me some Creole. Pictured at right, the children help me with my language skills. (Photo credit: Suma Suresh)

They howled with laughter when I made faces of despair at my inability to catch on, but were so polite and considerate as I tried again.

One 17-year-old boy took out the English/Creole picture dictionary he carried in his backpack to teach me more. He would not be going back to school because his school was gone, he told me. “I really want to keep studying,” he said. “But I can’t.”

I think we jointly decided not to dwell on it as smiles started to slip away, because everybody wanted to continue with the fun.

The day before, I was overwhelmed by the joy and laughter and singing of children at one of Save the Children’s Child Friendly Spaces.  This, too, was in the middle of a tent city, where children lived with their surviving relatives but with very few of the comforts of home.

I can’t remember the last time I saw such exuberance. The kids shouted out lyrics in response to one of the community volunteer’s calls as they jumped, jumped, jumped along to the rhythm of the song.

Then it was time for sack races, in which kids shrieked with delight and hoisted the winner to their shoulders like he’d just scored the winning goal at the World Cup.

The Child Friendly Spaces allow kids a chance to be kids again. The kids can have fun, express themselves, and look forward to a nice routine amidst the upheaval of their lives.

It’s incredible how children can bounce back from terrible experiences if they have the right opportunities.

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