Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Beth Falk's Impressions of Little Rock!

Beth Falk with Little Rock pre-schooler

Our family's visit to the Little Rock Inclusive Early Childhood Development Centre in Nairobi was, without question, life-changing.  I think we all had a year's worth of life lessons in a single day.

I'm not certain I even have the words to describe Lilly Oyare and what she's accomplished. I'm in awe of what she has created for the Little Rock children in the midst of what could be impossible obstacles. Little Rock is such a beautiful respite for families who live in a kind of poverty that's difficult for most of us to fully comprehend.  The school is bright, clean, colorful and safe. It's clear that the children are loved and respected, and that they've learned to love and respect each other in turn. As a parent, I was deeply impressed by Lilly and her staff's recognition of all of the components of a good education, from nutrition to giving the kids opportunities for simple play and movement before asking them to concentrate on academics. The occupational therapists on staff spoke with real passion about their work, and it's clear that the team understands how critical that work is to the children who need OT. I wish some of the schools in the U.S. showed that depth of understanding of child development, and that kind of commitment to the value of education.

Kids in Kibera

Of course, we loved all the children, and our kids did, too. It was very difficult to get them to leave after so many hugs and so much laughter and shared play. The fact that children from different sides of the world could sit on the ground together and play “Duck, Duck, Goose” or color and play with stickers together made us all feel good. Our 14-year old was deeply affected by our home visit in Kibera. I think we're all experiencing a complicated mix of feelings from sadness to great hope after what we saw. 

I understand better now, John and Judy, why you've been compelled to continue this work, and I hope we'll be able to do more to support it. Our kids had lots to share with their classmates at home, and still talk about the friends they made at Little Rock. I hope that sense of connection and friendship will stay with them, and that they'll find some ways to support the community there.

Beth Falk

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