I love arts and crafts. I grew up going through paper after paper making craft upon craft. If you happened to be in my grade four class last year at Elmdale, you know how much I love arts and crafts. Teaching arts at Elmdale last year was like a dream come true with what seemed like an endless supply of coloured paper and pencils with which we could create and imagine just about anything. Carelessly, I used to grab for a new stack of paper as we would start a new project.
Since I've arrived here in Mozambique, things have changed a little. Shortly after arriving I was cautioned against giving out a full sheet of white paper to a child to colour, draw and write on. White paper, of which there always seemed to be an abundance of at home in Canada, seems to be of shorter more precious supply here. Although I don't feel like we were being wasteful during art classes back at home, I just never seemed to fully value its abundance and the free creative space to colour.
A few weekends ago, I brought a group of our girls from our centre out to the BUSH for a youth retreat. We invited youth living in the rural parts of Mozambique to join the girls from our centre for a weekend of amazing experiences, equipping and empowerment. We wanted to give our girls a weekend away full of fun and joy.
So often girls (and boys too) in Mozambique have to grow up so quickly. I know nine year olds who started to take care of their younger siblings alone at home was left abandoned and alone. I know thirteen year olds who cooked every meal for their family as her older sibling struggled for life and her father died. I know girls who had to quit school in order to get a job. I know so many girls who never got to truly experience childhood and all of its joys.
And so part of this weekend retreat away was focused on fun and creativity. I brought lots of bead supplies and paper to make cards and crafts. For many teenagers back home, the crafts I brought probably would have been considered too childish. But our girls, and the girls joining us from rural communities, loved every minute of it.
It never ceases to amaze me how the small things in life like paper to colour on are ever so precious and can bring out the biggest of smiles.