We’re still working on a better name, but nothing is coming right now. We’ll get back to you on that.
Our house is really always a community center: there are always kids out and about, there is always water to be shared, there are always Band-Aids when you need them. But, we wanted to create more open space. So in the past few months we’ve re-arranged some things to make most of our house an open area. We still have our two rooms: a bedroom and studio; and then we have one little sitting area closed off behind a bookshelf. Other than that, the house is fair game from our front door and down through the kitchen.
In addition to more open space, we also wanted to establish more regular “open hours.” We want to provide some sense of stability, and this seemed a great way to do that.
Since we never know what we’re doing, it has taken us a few weeks to get the kinks out and figure out what hours are best. It looks like we’re landing on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday from 4-6pm. That leaves out Mondays (our Sabbath days), Sundays (when everyone is invited to come to church with us), and Fridays (when we’re making Flour & Flower deliveries).
We have Thida, a friend and mother from the community, come to help us manage it all: she’s there to help us keep an eye on kids and help clean up after those not yet potty trained. She helps us make sure all the puzzle pieces are put back and water stays in the kitchen. She manages the computers and who has already been on them twice this week. She helps us stay sane in the midst of the insanity 🙂
Because it does look a bit like insanity. There are two computers available for use–they run on Raspberry Pi consoles and are intentionally pretty limited. We are trying to teach control of the mouse, basic typing in English & Burmese, and math. There is an open-source Word program for them to use, plus three “games”–a math game for various skill levels, an art program (think Microsoft Paint), and an English typing program. There is no internet, and very little they can click on accidentally to mess up the computer!
It’s super simple, and we were actually nervous they might think it was too lame without Facebook. But, alas–they love it! They are all so excited about every chance they get to type and practice math. It’s amazing.
We have just this week finished up our “trainings” of most the students, so that kids eight to sixteen know the basics of how to get around. They can now come and sign up for 30-minute slots when the community space is open. We only have a few adults interested–young, young mothers mostly. We’ll likely just have them come through the day whenever we are around.
For those not on the computers, we offer one-on-one English homework help if they need it. We also have coloring pages and a basket of colored pencils, pencils, and crayons–all treasures for them! We have books available–some simple English board books, bible stories, and a collection of Burmese storybooks.
We have our same collection of toys: a train set, cars, stackable rings, blocks, magnetic dolls, and puzzles. We have a shelf of games for the older kids, including Memory, Uno, Mancala, Pass the Pigs, Sorry, & Dutch Blitz. We’re slowly teaching them and they love it! It’s endearing to see them fight over which four people get to play a half-dilapidated game of Sorry!
And our house fills full. We have some adults that come with their littlest babes, and so many sibling groups. We love to have them crowd into our house, and especially just seeing them exposed to so many opportunities. It’s amazing to see what they learn on the computer, see their improvements in English, or see them reading Burmese books to each other. In many ways, it’s tiring. But in most ways, it’s watching a dream unfold.
One of girls came up to us after school one day, “Remember that test you helped me study for? Last week? You helped me study all those English words for my test! I got a perfect score!” 😍