Author of Today’s Post is Valerie
Our last day on site with our friends at the United Methodist Church For All People began with a quick breakfast before heading over to the Freedom School which provides an 8 week summer program for elementary school children.
This program, with enrollment of 85 students (Freedom Scholars) is rich with opportunity for summer fun and learning in a safe and caring environment. After orientation with program director Darlene, we jumped right in – dancing, clapping and chanting for the morning Harambee, a Kenyan tradition of self help that means “all pull together”. Our own team member Bill entertained all the kids and our team with his reading aloud, Q&A and funny antics. The book, “Waking Up in Kansas” was chosen especially for our visit. What followed looked like chaos until we figured out that the kids jumped up and ran to their class line when they heard their teacher’s walk off song. We split up to participate with the kids and their teachers. This summer’s theme is “I Can Make A Difference”. This week’s focus was “I can make difference in my family”. We truly felt like part of the class family as the kids embraced us. One class made a paper patchwork quilt, representing family memories. Each scholar selected a special person and presented a drawing and a story about the person. Reading is the number one focus for summer and as we compares notes, all of us had the chance to hear the kids read. Weekly field trips and swimming are also part of the curriculum. These young scholars were looking forward to swimming after lunch!
Freedom School and it’s team of dedicated teachers are making a difference in the lives of the families they serve. They have regular parent interactions including home visits to address concerns like absenteeism.
After a quick lunch at the Roots Cafe we engaged in a presentation and discussion about the Hidden Rules of Poverty. The team at the Church for All People understands this all too well as they serve the people of the Columbus’ South Side. The three most important things for a person living in poverty: 1) Food; 2) Relationships- people to rely on; and 3) Entertainment- laughter to reduce stress is necessary for survival.
On the topic of Relationships we saw this lived out on Parsons Avenue as Church for All People volunteers and staff greeted folks with a smile and a hug, calling folks by name – at the Fresh Store, the Bike Shop, the Free Store, the worship services, etc. We experienced Radical Hospitality in the manner that Jesus modeled for us.
Our team has been blessed this week. Physically tired with our hearts warmed, we topped off the evening with ice cream at Jeni’s, a local favorite, sharing a special moment with Miss Mary, whose yard we worked on, and Margaret Madison, who was a wonderful host to us all week.
God is Good.