Hi, I am a volunteer at Hope Torch, working in two Homes – Home of Faith, an all-boys home and Chaitanya Foundation, which is an all-girls home. My experience with the kids thus far has been amazing.
Hope Torch is my first job, and my first working experience with kids. As the age of the kids in these homes is between 9 to 15 years, I thought it would be a piece of cake. But only after I started working with them, I realized that kids are the most creative beings on this planet. I work in an orphanage setting, where I have about 10 kids in each of these homes. The kids are used to Hope Torch programs and enjoy each of them. Though initially I had a tough time connecting with the kids, I somehow mustered up my courage to get on the floor with them and join in on their struggles and sometime protests against every math problem and Word Frame challenge.
Since life is basically trial error, so is every math problem. We try and try, till we succeed. At times, if one kid says he doesn’t want to do it or if the entire group doesn’t want a test, I let go and give them a time out. I don’t believe in forcing anything on them as I myself never learnt anything that was forced on me as a child.
The kids: My boys at Home of Faith are playful and love to try out new things. They have a spirit to learn something new from our programs. They have the required cognitive thinking to integrate their school lessons with our programs like Mathletics and Word Frames. The kids are not academically strong in English because of the setting in which they were brought up in, but the drive to learn the language better is evident in the way they converse with me.
My girls at Chaitanya Foundation are in the age group of 10 to 14 years. The girls, though they are just kids, are mature in their behavior. The way they carry themselves and the way they talk is different from their peers. It’s beautiful to see that even though they do not get the required parental attention, the girls know how to carry themselves like mature women. The courage to try out something new is evident in the way they approach our programs. They are always enthusiastic in coming up with new ideas for hidden treasures.
Positives: While trying to figure out life and move on with college, the Hope Torch experience with the kids has helped me reach back to my ten-year-old self. The creative side which had stayed hidden in me just sprung out. When working with kids who are obedient and highly creative, things become easy to communicate because the wave length of thought is the same and it’s easy to get ideas across.
Negatives: Irregularity is one of the biggest negatives. When it comes to working with kids, the need for patience is something very important I’ve learnt the hard way. Most kids have a lot going on in their minds and are sometimes completely uninterested in participating. I have learnt that be it kids or adults, when someone needs some time out, they really do.
Overall experience: My overall experience has been amazing. Seeing each of my kids grow and learn something new each time we’re together has been the high point of my year. The Hope Torch experience has not only helped me boost a child’s self-worth but has also boosted mine, because I believe that self-worth begins from within.