Connecting local responses around the world
“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”
Pope John XXIII
As i announced the ending of the card making session i observed the girls. They were not rushing to pack up their things as they usually did and i had that smile inside my heart, “Is it that they are waiting for the next part of the workshop?” I started packing my materials and i watched them as they took out their lunch and i could not help but feel grateful, “So they brought lunch this time”
I asked them why they brought lunch and they told me, “Madam did you not say we have something to do together”. At that moment i was beaming. So, i did manage to get their attention. I told them to take a break and finish their lunch. I asked them where they bought their lunch. They were happy to tell me about their recent find out, a new shop in the village where you get a bread with “lots of sautéed chicken” for only Rs 35. I smiled and could not wait to start the next level of my dream building.
Once lunch was over, i took out my manicure kit and nail polishes out. They were excited and i told them to clean their hands properly and come back. I explained to them how to use a nail file, and introduced them to the cuticle oil. While doing so, we started a conversation on the importance of having trimmed and clean nails. Mid way i asked them how they felt and the answers did not wait,
“I feel proud and confident to walk on the street now”
“I feel beautiful”
“I want my nails to always be beautiful”
“I want to stop bitting my nails so as next time when i apply nail polish my nails are more beautiful”
“I used to watch my teacher’s nail when she handed me my work and now i feel happy to have beautiful hands too”
“Nobody ever showed me to do my nails. Now i want to always do that”
I asked them in what circumstances they could not wear nail polish. And we discussed about how a policewoman was not supposed to wear flashy nail polish and the importance to respect the uniform and they also added they would not wear nail polish to school. As they waited for the nail polish to dry i asked them about what they wanted us to do next time and what they want to learn. I asked them if they wanted to build their dreams and learn how to achieve them and they unanimously said that they want us to meet again and of course they wanted to continue with the nail polish activity.
We discussed on the activities we could do and to be in line with the manicure session i prompted them with a question, “Do we wear the same clothes for work, at home or for a party?”
And so we decided that we will do another session on how to dress up and each one will bring three outfits, one partywear, one day wear and one outfit for work and they will do a mini fashion show so as we can decide on the appropriate clothes to wear on different occasions.
Furthermore, i asked them “What are you going to do during the holidays?” and their answer was the one that always gives me goosebumps, the very poignant “nothing”. I asked them about the activities offered by the Youth Community Centre and they told me that they did Zumba but that it was boring because the music was old fashioned. I asked them about what did they feel was needed in the village and what would make them happy. The girl who wanted to be a teacher said she wanted a library and it was at that moment that all the four girls realised that there was no library in the village. I told them to think about more things they feel is needed in the village and we will talk about it the next time we meet.
As they left, one girl told me “Madam as soon as i am sixteen i want to get my learner so as i can get my car driving license when i am eighteen”
As they left i reflected on the importance of creativity and innovation in the matter of social work.
My lecturer often talks about social work being a science on its own and as i pave my way as a community service worker i can only agree with her. Social work requires constant questioning and upgrade in terms of approach. The world is in constant evolution, nothing is static. So as to effectively reach the community we work with we have no choice but to develop a holistic approach which is dynamic. By dynamic i mean creative, innovative, up to date…It is our duty to evaluate our approach and seek new ways to reach the community and this implies continuously re-inventing our perspectives on the matter and shape our approach to serve the community in the best way possible.
The first quality of a SALT facilitator is to be human and that means to embody all the positive characteristics that goes with it, which involves being an empathic and compassionate being having strengths, vulnerabilities and emotions. Being human means also being part of the “wheel of life” process on earth and that means to evolve.
I have been brought to apply this when planning my creative workshops with children. Seeing things in black and white does not serve anymore. In order to get the attention of children who have tablets and the latest smartphones we have to give them what these new technologies are not giving them and that is the human touch, the lively colours, different types of crayons and painting materials, a selection of mixed medias to arouse their senses, glitters and sparkles that will stick to their hands and accompany them home when the workshop is over.
In the wake of a dehumanized world, we have to more than ever call to the human we are and work hand in hand with those of our kind to build our common dream of a beautiful world.