Mama Arlene's

Today we had one of my favorite experiences so far. We visited a beautiful school/orphanage run by a hilarious old white woman from Pennsylvania. She wore a lime green muumuu and everyone called her Mama. She started by showing us around her new building which holds a library, art room, music room, and small stage. Absolutely gorgeous, I didn’t want to leave. We performed for her teachers and spoke with them about incorporating drama-based education. They seemed a bit hesitant at first, but became more an more interested as we explained just how much storytelling can help kids to understand and engage with.

Then we were set loose to play with the kids. Mama had them sing a few songs for us- You Are My Sunshine, Happy And You Know It- then a few of them (including a one-year-old) led the rest in prayer. It was the cutest thing. Then she said “Alright, everyone grab a Muzungo (white foreigner) and go at it!”.  They swarmed us. Their English was incredible, and they were full of questions. “My name is David,” one boy said (Earlier when talking about drama based education Mama said “David will love this-he can’t sit still”). He definitely had a lot to say- “Is there snow where you live?” “Why is Rebecca’s hair pink? Who did that to her?” “Do you have a boyfriend?” “Do you have a girlfriend?” His energy was all over the place and he reminded me strongly of a camper I’ve had- I’m sure any of my camp friends will know who I’m talking about.  Finally he said “I don’t want to have a girl, I want to have a boy!” and left (“Ditto,” said Rob). My other kids kept changing, but I had a boy named Emmanuel and a girl named Sarah who loved singing camp songs with me. Sarah was especially fond of the Penguin Polka and kept asking for “the penguin one again!!” I loved playing with these kids. After so many months away from camp I couldn’t be happier to have kids to sing with, and I felt like I was back in my element. When the donations that we brought came out Emmanuel was thrilled. “Did you bring FOOD?!” he asked, but was equally happy when I said no, just toys and games. I was so sad to have to leave, this incredible place filled with kids and the arts (not to mention their farm that we didn’t see) was like a little utopia. I hope through AFP I can become involved with storybuilding in classrooms, because working with kids fills me with such a joy and energy that I can’t find anywhere else.