“Has anyone here been on a journey? I asked. For most of the children in the after-school programs for orphans and vulnerable children in Tembisa a trip into the city of Johannesburg would be an adventure. One boy tentatively raised his hand.
“Where did you go?” I asked him.
“Mpumulanga,” he replied, naming the province to the northeast. His father and his sister went with him to visit his grandmother, he told the group of 50 to 60 grade school children in answer to my questions. They had a good trip and didn’t have any problems—no flat tires, no bad roads (at least, not by this boy’s standards!)
“Your life is like a journey,” I explained. “The choices you make will determine where you go and how enjoyable your journey is.” The theme is similar to what I used at Kingsridge Senior Primary. Taking responsibility for choices seems to be the key to stopping the AIDS pandemic.
I’m using the Today for Tomorrow curriculum developed in Zimbabwe a few years ago. In Zim it is used in after-school programs like the ones I work with in Tembisa. Here it is being used as Sunday school curriculum in the Africa Evangelical Churches (once associated with our old mission, Africa Evangelical Fellowship.) It is a three-year Bible-based life skills program designed to prepare children to resist the kinds of activities that make them vulnerable to HIV&AIDS. I’ve seen other programs that are essentially a Bible verse and a one-page sermon to read with the advice that you should “sing some songs and play some games” with the children as well. This program is FAR more child friendly.
“The Bible is like a guidebook for the journey," I told the boys and girls. "The best part is that the Author of the guidebook promises to go with you on the journey.
After reading Psalm 25:4-5 asking God show us his paths and guide us in his truth, we played a game from the Today for Tomorrow book. Two volunteers, a boy and a girl, each chose two friends to go with them in their “car.” They drove around the yard and stopped at five different points, each with a child waiting to read out the slip of paper describing a “situation” where they had to choose. For the sake of the game, the “drivers” chose from two hidden slips of paper to learn if they chose wisely and got to move ahead or chose badly and had to miss a turn.
Not all the children were confident reading aloud in English, and their caretakers stepped in to read for them more than I would have liked. But I was glad the caretakers were there to see that learning can be fun. I’m hoping that after my four weeks here, they will be excited to get training from Today for Tomorrow and continue teaching on their own.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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