I think it is time to update you on my work with Joy. Two Mondays ago, I went to teach the girls with Princely as my translator. For a while I taught while Princely worked on some design templates on his computer, contributing translations every now and again. He was not highly active in our class that Monday, but he was a nice comfort to have.
When his computer began to run low on battery and he asked me if he could leave to go complete his work at Zoe Babies where there was power, there was uproar from the girls. They begged him to stay but I told him it was fine, he should go. Now I always brag about my girls on the blog, so I may not have mentioned that often times it is difficult to convince them to ask me questions in English. They tend to lean on the translator (which is the natural thing to do) and ask him the question in Swahili to be translated to English. But this does not push them to practice their English.
I was nervous for Princely to leave because I was afraid that they would walk away not understanding what I had taught, but instead the girls blossomed. One particularly bright student, Happy, took leadership immediately. She assumed the role of translator when the other girls were having trouble understanding, but they all began speaking much more in English, asking questions and using words and sentence structures that I did not even know they were familiar with. It was such a breakthrough. It has made me confident that the lesson will be fruitful even when I have to go on my own. I am not saying that nothing was lost in translation, but to make up for these few misunderstandings that I am sure occurred, the girls had to really work to communicate. For that reason, the lesson was highly valuable.
|This picture is a repost but that is Happy on the left and Lucy on the right|
This past Monday was wonderful in a different way. I taught the girls and Princely stayed there the whole time, but with encouragement, they began to ask questions in English. But what really made this Monday unique was that I began to feel so much closer to the girls. I gave them dictionaries I bought a couple weeks ago for them (English to Swahili and Swahili to English) and they were absolutely squealing. This reaction seemed involuntary and they physically could not stop. Princely and I showed them how to use the dictionaries by having them race to translate words. It was something truly magical, I wish I could have recorded it because the moment was so pure and inexplicable, but truly beautiful. I also gave them each one undergarment and one sweater, dress, shirt, or skirt apiece. They all ran to put the clothes in their dormitories after class and were so appreciative.
Sometimes I don’t like charitable giving. It can be an indirect boast. We give to hear how great we are. This very qualm was the reason I felt so full of happiness after giving the girls their gifts. I am not giving and walking away. The gift they were most excited about (the dictionaries) is something that will feed the lessons I teach them. I love them with all my heart and am not giving to them because I want praise or even thanks in return, rather it is because I receive genuine joy from their happiness. Somehow, I felt that they understood this completely.
After class, Princely and I stayed at Zoe Babies until 6 PM and the girls were there too. Usually, Princely and I work in one room while they work and hang outside. This past Monday, whenever I took work breaks, I visited them outside. We sat on the back porch and exchanged songs. When I ran out of English worship songs to sing them, I resorted to Hootie and the Blowfish, a close second to the God-fearing type. Despite the language barrier, they’re growing so comfortable around me and I love them so much that this is the best feeling in the world.