16 Days To Go
16 days to go- how mad is that?! It’s slightly terrifying and as some of the other volunteers are leaving or preparing to do so, our thoughts are turning to how much we are going to miss this place- the guys, the town and not to mention each other. (cheesy romantic photo here!) We are so happy to have had a change of timetable this week, meaning that we get to spend a lot more time together, which we are putting to good use by dancing round the kitchen to Rend Collective and High School Musical, exploring nearby beaches, and working on our eat-every-flavour ice cream mission.
We had a special day out with the boys on Monday this week, celebrating an Italian holiday named Ferragosto. All of us went to the beach and picnicked in a nearby forest, playing plenty of Uno, football and volleyball, and paddling along the beach front. Our crazy idea of buying impromptu bikinis to go for a sneaky-out-of-sight dip did not go according to plan!!! That evening we had a party including lots of crazy dancing, to mark the end of Antonia’s time here and to celebrate a significant financial donation to the project. We are missing Antonia already, and as goodbyes near on the horizon, Lucy has been grilling Charlotte’s law knowledge as to how to legally (or otherwise!) adopt some of the boys!
On Sunday we attempted to organise an orienteering event for the boys. Burdened with the most reluctant group, we narrowly avoided coming last, but had lots of fun in the process including sneaky ice cream stops, plenty of selfies and a trip to buy a hat! Life here is full of spontaneity!
Another highlight has been getting to know the 4 newest arrivals, who arrived last week. It’s been a pleasure to watch them relaxing into this new environment and to see their unique personalities emerging. We’ve also been counting our blessings that the 3 from Gambia speak English, which has made forming relationships much easier. Having said that, Charlotte has established a formidable table tennis partnership with a French lad who mainly shouts ‘piano piano’ at her more enthusiastic shots, or ‘problem’ when she misses them completely or inexplicably falls over!
We’ve also been continuing with the English teaching twice a week. We would be lying if we were to say that it has been a smooth ride- persuading 20 teenage boys to leave their beds and/or mobile phones to come downstairs to a very small and hot classroom to learn English for an hour and a half has its challenges as you may well imagine! Also having so many of them in one space trying to fit them all around the table, getting them to be quiet, and preventing as many escape attempts as possible. It has been rewarding to see many of the boys understand what we are teaching and looking to us for extra help and learning opportunities in their free time. One of the boys has a very strange selection of English words written in an exercise book ‘he-goat, ‘dead body’, and ‘fat cow’ being amongst our favourites! We are hoping to split the class this week which will hopefully reduce some of the challenges and enable a better learning environment- we’ll keep you updated.
As our time here plods on and we prepare to say goodbye to our fellow volunteers, our friends and begin to think about the little time we have left we thank God for this amazing opportunity we have had to make an impact on the lives of the boys we work with, to build relationships with them and to ultimately call them friends. We would also like to thank you for reading our blog and our family and friends for supporting us through this experience.
But this is not the end and we are so grateful for that. We still have 2 weeks with these remarkable boys in which we hope and pray that we can strengthen relationships and make even more of a difference.
Lucy and Charlotte xx