“What is he saying?” I asked someone who works in the office.
“He’s saying your mother should beat you” he said laughing.
I arrived at art class at the Meru School for Mentally Challenged children expecting to see the same 16 students from last class. I guess I should know by now that things never go as I anticipate they will. The class had doubled in size and 33 students sat in the room eagerly awaiting their next art project.
I was told by one of the teachers that the other class had enjoyed last week so much that they ended up adding the lower level class to the group so they could also participate. The class is now comprised of “Prevocational 1” and “Prevocational 2”. Adding the lower level means that the kids are slightly less self-sufficient and classes are a little bit trickier, but I’m glad to be giving art lessons to almost 30% of the school. They’ll hopefully really benefit from the lessons. I want to talk to the head teacher about organizing a collaborative art project for the class in which they all work together to create something for the school. I’ve got a few ideas but I’m open to suggestions!
I purposefully hadn’t brought leaves for the students to use for their leaf rubbings, thinking that they’d enjoy picking them out themselves. They were sent outside by one of their teachers to collect some. The students trickled back into the classroom each holding a leaf or two that they’d found. As each student passed me they proudly displayed their find, pointing out the leaves which they found exceptionally compelling.
I did a couple of demonstrations, with a teacher translating into Kiswahili, to make sure that they understood the instructions. Then we passed out printer paper and one or two wrapper-less crayons to each child and they got to work. I walked around the room, making sure to help each student. Some of the students scribbled with the end of their crayons and I showed them how to hold it flat and rub the crayon horizontally along the leaf which lay under their paper. A few of the students physically couldn’t hold the crayons in that position but still enjoyed coloring.
I walked over to one boy, who looked to be about my age, sitting in front of a page covered in orange and pink scribbles. He’d stopped drawing so I reached for his crayon to show him how to move it sideways across the page. The crayon was slick in my hand and I realized his fingers were covered in thick frothy drool. I pretended not to notice and kept coloring, making a mental note to wash my hands ASAP.
Everyone was coloring except for one boy who sat in the corner. I tried a couple of times to encourage him to draw, but he continued to sit hunched over, staring at the blue crayon he gripped in his left hand. He let me move his hand across the page but after I stopped he didn’t continue on his own.
After everything was set up, a few of them approached my desk near the front of the classroom. I took a couple of steps towards them.
“Ahhhhhhh” they ran yelling and giggling out of the library.
After sufficiently confusing my health club about intestinal worms last class, I decided to take a different approach. One of my loyal blog followers sent me some advice on teaching about waterborne diseases and I decided to take that advice today (thanks!). I asked for a volunteer and was excited when a number of students raised their hands (they’re getting much better about participating in class). I gave a glass to one girl and asked her to fill it with “clean drinking water”. When the class was all seated I began the lesson.
“At the beginning of class I asked her” pointing to the volunteer “to fill the glass with clean drinking water.”
“Yes” she said.
“Is this water clean?” I asked the class.
“Yes” most of them replied.
“How do you know?”
“Because it is clear” said one boy who raised his hand. A few students offered other reasons, reaffirming that the water was clean.
“OK, so I can drink it then? You’re sure it’s safe?” I said taking a sip, they all laughed.
“What is this?” I said emptying the contents of an envelope into my hand.
“Would you eat dirt?”
“But why not?”
“Because it has germs” said one student. After a number of other responses I took a pinch of the dirt and stirred it into the water.
“Is this water clean? Would you drink it?”
“Because it’s dirty.”
“But how do you know, does it look dirty?”
“If you hadn’t seen me put the dirt in would you know by looking at it that it was dirty?”
I went on to explain that there are some things which are so small we can’t see them, but they can still make us sick. One example is intestinal worm eggs. I drew three scenarios on the board showing how eggs can be spread from person to person or between food and a person. Arrows connected each cartoon drawing and I asked them at what point during the chain the spread of eggs could have been stopped. We came to the conclusion that washing our hands after using the toilet and before eating are two of the best ways to prevent getting intestinal worms.
"Do you have scary movies in the .T.V. Show."
"I want to How You fill ham egg plant" Are they asking for a recipe?
"What is your head Quators" It sounds like I'm from an alien planet.
"Do you have a video about the worms in the latrines?" Do you really want to watch that?
"Will you bring us something to cure diseases?"
"How can you understand the germs that lives in water" I don't know. I don't think they speak English, or Kiswahili.
"will you bring snaks for us to eat."