Day 3 - Margibi
What a great day! It was all about playing Santa Claus and bringing equipment to schools and community centres in Margibi County. We also stopped in to check on some of the existing programs and to see how everything was going.
Every new school/centre that becomes affiliated with Right To Play receives a package of basic equipment to get them started with Right To Play games. The package includes 2 soccer balls, 5 small balls, some cones, a couple of blind folds and a ball pump. Not much by our standards of "gifts", but this small package opens up a world of possibility. Right To Play games were created with the thought of equipment limitations in mind. The areas of the world that Right To Play focuses on are some of the most disadvantaged in the world and resources are tight. I have had a lot of people ask me if Right To Play goes in and teaches a community how to play soccer. The answer is NO. Right to Play games are less about physicality and more about reflection, connection and application. Right to Play is more about playing and less about sport. After each game, leaders are taught to have a discussion about what the children observed, felt, experienced or learned in the game. Then they are asked about how this connects to their lives. Lastly, they have a small discussion on how they can apply what they learned to their life moving forward. It's quite brilliant to watch it happen - you see a lot of metaphorical light bulbs turning on after each and every game.
What I noticed the most today was that you could really tell the difference between a community that had had the Right To Play programming implemented for a while - vs - the communities that were just being introduced. In the well versed communities, the children show a much greater sense of respect to themselves, their peers and their elders. They are more open and trustworthy to those with differences. They are more self-confident and you can see the leadership starting to take form. In the schools that had only been on the RTP roster for a couple of weeks, the children were shy, unorganized and slightly disrespectful. They seemed to really question our intention of being there and it was hard to get their attention. It was almost night and day when comparing the two. Another sign that the RTP programming is making an impact.
At the end of the day, we made it to more than 10 schools/centres. We did really quick visits, but it was so rewarding being able to see the joy and hope we brought with us when we dropped off the small package of equipment. It was neat to see how the folks at the Liberian RTP office have to work together to coordinate and monitor in the counties and how everyone in the community seems to know what we're up to when we drive past in the RTP cruiser. They know that Santa Claus is coming to town.
After the days events, we went out with our new friends from the office to a Liberian Wednesday night tradition called Ladies Night. We boogied, shimmied and grooved to our new favourite song:
Overall, an excellent day. I'm feeling really grateful to be here.