In 2002 I went to an International Association of National Youth Service conference in Buenos Aries dealing with national community service programs from around the world. I was there on behalf of the New World Foundation of
Before the conference I, with many of the other participants, went on a tour of various community service projects around the city. At one such project I witnessed something I felt very strongly, was nothing more than a human miracle. The project was a school that had taken in many of the migrant children from the area that were part of gangs. The school looked more like a prison with barbed wire all around it, but it was amazingly turning these delinquent kids back in human beings and then giving them an education. The school in the early years had suffered from much of the kinds of behaviour these kids were used to doing, such as murders. There was a high number mentioned. You could not teach these kids at this phase of their detour of life, for they had no attention span. So the basic method of approach was to get the boys to play soccer and the girls to play broom ball. As they started to develop a sense of team work, the older children were given the roles of teachers to the younger. The process offered the kids a way to get their abundant energy out while giving them a sense of family and cooperation. Eventually they were put into small groups for classroom study. Each little step was calculated to return these children to the social world.
The teachers were the real miracle makers of this story. Often having little or no pay, suffering at the hands of the kids held a tenacity that kept them to their mission. My admiration for them is endless. We got to meet and talk with some of the kids that had went through the program (with an interpreter) and marvelled at the fact that in the end, they were just kids, like any other kid you know who wants to play, have friends and a family. It was this event that was inspired my career of doing organizational development for citizen sector organizations (also known as Non-profits or NGOs) and it still motivates me to find and practice beauty and peace in this world.
I am an OD advisor sponsored by VSO and has presently finished a two year posting in Barmer,
February 18, 2011
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