Thursday, October 10, 2013

"The Contrast"

As HALO grows, so do the contributions of the Ambassadors who volunteer their time and other resources to ensuring the continuation of CCH and the development of the children who live there, emotionally, spiritually, and academically. Katie Eaton and Hannah Brittain were mentioned in our previous post for their generous contributions to the orphanage by staying with the kids for a month (3 weeks after the rest of the medical mission group left Africa) and testing the kids for aptitude, identifying potential learning disabilities, and creating a game plan for the teachers at CCH to accommodate where all of the kids are developmentally.


Marci and George at CCH

Marci Blackshear is another HALO Ambassador who visited  Gbarnga City with HALO and stayed at CCH this past year. Her profession in the states is social work, and we were recently able to discuss some of Marci's accomplishments with the children during her stay.

An overwhelming majority of the 40+ children at CCH were exposed to the violence of the Liberian civil war, with many of them losing family members, primarily their parents, as a result of the war and the random acts of extreme violence by the rebel soldiers. Imagining a child watching their parents being brutally murdered with machine guns and machetes or daily waking up and begging for food to survive is seemingly impossible, but what surprises us all is the resilience of these kids despite their experiences.

Marci's first order of business was to work with the kids to ensure they were able to communicate their feelings appropriately. Concerned there may be a small language barrier or a lack of developed vocabulary for specific feelings, Marci gave the children a worksheet that identified specific emotions. For example, a smiling face would be identified with the word "happy", a crying frowning face would be identified with the word, "sad", and so on. These worksheets were also given to the teachers at CCH to help reinforce the lesson with the kids.

Marci divided the children up into groups based off of their age range and designated an adult to each

One of the children's comparison of life before
and after coming to CCH.

group (either a HALO Ambassador or one of the CCH teachers, Neyor, etc). They were each given a sheet of paper and their task was to draw a line in the middle of the paper. On the left side, they were to draw a picture of what their life looked like prior to coming to CCH, and on the right side a picture of their life as it is today. Marci admittedly was surprised by several things with this activity; First, most of the children preferred to write their responses rather than draw pictures (although there were many moving pictures that came from the exercise as well), and their responses were incredibly insightful. One of the many benefits of this exercise was that Neyor was able to gain a clearer picture into the children's past than she was previously made aware of. Many of the children are brought to CCH by family members who give a synopsis of their history, but this activity gave the kids an opportunity to tell their stories in their own words, in a manner that was safe and comfortable for them. We don't feel it's in the best interest of the kids to identify their individual stories by name, but we want you to hear some of their stories anonymously. One child wrote, "When I was out there, sometimes there was no food to be eaten and most of the time I fainted because there was nothing to be eaten." conversely, at CCH the same child wrote, "Whenever I am hungry, my mom and dad give me food. At C.C.H. I do not go from house to house to beg for food."
 

Of his guardian family, this child wrote, "They said
that I was not going to be a good human being
in the future."

These children have experienced unimaginable physical adversity: starvation, abuse of all kinds, imminent danger and the like. Fungbeh and Neyor provide for these kids not only by eliminating the threat of physical harm, but also by introducing them to God, and showing them how He loves them, provides for and protects them. Marci echoes the sentiment of HALO when she says, "They are able to recognize how blessed they are and they constantly give God the glory for their life."
 
 

Every trip to CCH brings new personalities into the mix and a unique contribution to the kids and the staff. We are 100% volunteer based. The accomplishments achieved during our visits are coming from those with the heart to serve, not for their benefit, but for the benefit of the children and ultimately for the benefit of Liberia as a country.
 
For more information on how you can get involved, visit www.myhaloproject.com.
 

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