Random body parts float around the page in front of me, if I’m being honest, the street kid’s art rivals some of Picasso’s best work. There’s a red ear that actually looks like an ear, a blue mouth that couldn’t be mistaken for anything else and a green nose – okay, maybe the nose could use a plastic surgeon. For now, the drawings suffice as examples. I say the word ‘knees’ out loud and half the children point to the round yellow kneecaps floating to the left of some very boxy shoulders. Other kids point to their own knees or their neighbour’s knees. We continue with this game for about five minutes before I notice someone yawn and realise that even I’m starting to get antsy from sitting still so long.
|Studying is fun when Zarina is around.
Zarina, one of our current volunteers is sitting nearby with three children reviewing animals, so I ask if she thinks her group would enjoy a few rounds of the ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’ song. I’m relieved when she agrees because I’m not completely musical or rhythmic on my own. Zarina arrived in Nepal just over one week ago and has an effortless enthusiasm that keeps children of all ages engaged. I think it’s because of her that the kids are quick to mimic our motions.
Today, we’re at the Street Kids Rehabilitation Center. At some point each one of these 12 kids ran away from their homes. It isn’t always clear why. Maybe there wasn’t enough food to eat or their parents were away working in order to provide food – but in doing so, their mom’s and dad’s weren’t able to provide the watchful eye or support a kid needs. In Nepal, it’s not uncommon for street kids to start sniffing glue. The high gives them the warmth needed to sleep on the street or manages to make them forget that they are hungry. These twelve kids have been given a second chance. In order to stay in the home they must attend school and help with chores. Of course, I’m summarizing the whole process. It’s not quite so simple, especially for kids newly introduced to the home. However, so far GVI has been impressed with the center’s committee and with the house mother and we’re excited to have the chance to help these kids in any way we can. One of the home’s objectives is to eventually find the children’s parents and see if it’s a viable option for them to return and if not, then to make sure they leave with the skills needed to find employment. Until that time, education and hygiene are the main focus.
Hopefully, volunteers can aid in making the education part fun. Zarina and I transition into the ‘hokey pokey’ and twelve children and two Americans become a flurry of elbows, arms, legs and hands that are wiggled all about. By the time we walk the kids to school, they are singing the songs to us and pointing out body parts in English.