Sunday, December 07, 2008
project mercy kindergarten
Outside the compound walls, but still very much a part of Project Mercy, is the modern, beautiful Kindergarten, or KG, as it's lovingly called. We visited with Marta early in the trip, touring the grounds and classrooms, and luckily arriving just before lunchtime. The buildings are all built from the cinder block bricks that are made at Project Mercy, and the little traditional "tukle" (I just learned how to spell it) will be a sweet little library one day.
The KG kids are not all what we think of as "kindergarten age". Some are older, since that's where they all start, no matter when they're lucky enough to begin school. Every single one of them is happy to be there, and they're all smart, curious, polite, and adorable - even the boys who are getting to that age where they want to be "cool"...
The preschool room is just beautiful, with a happy mural covering one wall, and toys and games and little nap-time mats for the kids. It's clearly an inspiring environment to anyone who walks in.
Lunchtime is an event not to be missed. We entered the big hall while it was still empty, and Marta asked how we liked the desks... I didn't see any desks, and had sort of a blank look on my face. She laughed and pointed out the rows of duct tape on the floor, saying those were the desks. The kids line up for their food, and then go directly to their spot on the taped floor. They know exactly where they sit, and there's very little scuffling around as they arrange themselves to enjoy their lunch.
One exception was little Salem (salam, peace), who goes her own way most of the time. Apparently on this day she needed a little space, and sat there by herself, arranging her bread and soup, just so, before Marta stepped in to help her eat it. With all those kids and all those cups of soup, I didn't see a single spill. Food is precious and valued. It's never taken for granted.
Marta is never left to herself for more than a minute or two. Soon her lap was full again, and it was perfect that she just happened to sit under the painting of the tree, with the word "Gentleness". Full lap, full hearts, full tummies.
Time to go. Everybody wave Bye-Bye!