“To the children St. Timothy’s has been a refuge… for safety and to feel relieved from the pressures of the day, from the pressures of the night. …the school has been the place to run to for security and safety and for hope.”
James Nathaniel, Headmaster St. Timothy’s, Founder Tanzanian Children’s Concern
It’s easy to approach a group of playing children and take their happiness for granted. It was in my second week at St. Timothy’s when the schools headmaster opened up about what the school really means to the children and the community. He told me, “these children are the happiest when they are in school and during their break they are just counting down the days until they can return and be well taken care of.”
Last week, the students finished their finals on Tuesday and had the rest of the week to play and celebrate while their teachers corrected their exams. Up until this point we had been occupied with community meetings about launching the new school and had not spent time with the children. Fortunately, the end of their exams happened to coincide with handing off the project to the community, which gave us time to hang out with the students.
To help the teachers out we decided to hold a field day where we did every relay race we could think of. The next day we taught the kids different songs and dances. I went way back into my head to remember every song that I learned at summer camp. We even taught them how to do the Macarena, which was a huge hit. By mistake while I was dancing I started a conga line (for the big kids)/ choo choo train (for the young ones) that took over the whole playground.
The last day before their break, we played every game under the sun until we were so exhausted and the kids settled down for story time where Lucia recounted the plots of Sleeping beauty, Aladdin and finally Lion King. They sat there mesmerized. You could have heard a pin drop.
St. Timothy’s school is a special place. By taking care of the most vulnerable children in the community it gives these children a chance to have a childhood. During their break they might be faced with the realities of their situations, some will have to go to work to help a sick parent care for their family. Some who were so dependent on the meals they got at school will go hungry. But after the break they will get to return to school and be kids again.
Many times I get so wrapped up in the work that I have to do during my field visits that I don’t get enough time to spend with the communities that Mama Hope supports. I am so happy that I had this opportunity to be reminded by the children how important it is to just laugh, dance, sing and play. It allowed me to remember why I started this organization in the first place.
Yours in hope,