Monday, July 9, 2012

First Day at SKILD

Today we started at SKILD – Smart Kids with Individual Learning Differences.  The team consisted of 4 of us, Sarah, Myles, Jennifer and myself.  We started out with a trip over to the seminary to start our day with worship; we heard a message from Psalm 23 and sang a variety of praise songs in Arabic including How Great Though Art.  We met up with 3 other groups that are also here to work with the children during the summer.  We divided into groups and each of us went with a different team.  I spent my time with a teacher Rita and a group of 5 young boys.  The boys have a variety of needs ranging from psychotic disorder to autism and some of them simply need help learning to follow the structure of a classroom.  Most of the children are boys, though there are a fair number of girls in the program.  

Today I worked with a little boy Usef, who spoke only French and Arabic.  We worked on learning to read time on a clock. Usef is very intelligent but needed step by step instructions to focus.  I learned a few words of French while working with Usef.  One of the other boys, Kevin has Autism and has great difficulty in a group setting.  His teacher has been working with him for several summers and reports that he is making progress.   About mid-morning we took all the kids outside for some play time and snack.   Then the kids divided into electives – some went to dance/exercise, and some went to puppets. I was in the puppet show group, and we did three improv puppet shows on behavior, requesting permission, and the importance of going to school.  The kids got to sing along with “if you are happy and you know it” and “ABCs” with the puppets leading the songs. 
We had one minor mishap at SKILD, but we worked it all out. We understood that we were to eat lunch with the kids at SKILD, but the adults didn’t actually eat until 2pm, and we were supposed to be back to Dar El Awlad at 1:30.  The staff at SKILD thought we were waiting to eat and didn’t call our taxi.  It ended up that we had Alia from the seminary drive us back to the orphanage about 1:45pm.  We scarfed down some lunch and then joined up with the rest of the team to play with 32 energetic children.  Half of us did crafts today with the kids, they made hats with their names on them and also made prayer rocks.  When the kids went to find their prayer rocks they brought back all sizes and types of rocks.  The rocks had a variety of messages written on them which included “I must always pray so I don’t hit you, and “Jesus be my Lord.”  Lots of the boys wrote US pop culture on their hats, there were references to rap songs, and High School Musical.

After a fun filled day of learning new languages, playing with kids and helping them with their summer homework, our team took a trip to St. John’s church on top of the hill to process the day and have a picnic dinner watching the sun set.  They were setting up for an outdoor wedding tomorrow, but we roamed through the church gardens, watched the sun set on the Mediterranean and wandered through some Roman ruins.  The sunset was beautiful, we got to see the sea behind the city of Beirut and the sun kissed clouds creating a haze of blue and purple hues.  The ruins are not considered important, so they were overgrown with prickly grass and weeds, but it still was a neat experience. There were wine presses and bathes.  We ate our picnic on the mosaic tiles right in front of the Roman bathes.  Our picnic consisted of fruit, baba ghanouj, pitas and other yummy treats.  Words cannot describe the beauty of the picnic/sunset.
~Tiffany Love

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