A volunteer shares her Reading Station experience.
Reading Station (RS) is a place with great potential. Every child who walks through the door is bursting with potential that’s just waiting to be nurtured. Many of them lack the learning environment and the opportunity that some of us possess but that can change, not overnight, not even over a period of a year but over a long period of prayer, hard work and Godly faith. That was the essence of what I felt when I first visited Reading Station recently.
What is really amazing is to see children both so obedient yet extremely hungry to learn. In my first session with them, they courageously overcome their innate shyness and showed great improvements by the end of the class session. Of course, we had fun. I know I did and I know my four year old son did. He told me in the car on our way back home, ‘mommy, I like it when you are the teacher’ – that was music to my ears.
My second session was different but equally interesting and encouraging. I was asked to bring props for a drama class and being the least imaginative person you can think of, I thought of balloon sculpture as a way to reach out to the kids at RS. I used to do that for other disadvantaged communities so balloon sculpture it would have to be and it was my hope that the children at RS would be as interested in learning about balloon sculpturing as the children elsewhere.
However since I’m pretty terrible at it, I roped in my hubby to help out and he willingly agreed to assist. Since it was also Father’s Day we thought it would be a good opportunity to show our two boys that we can be spiritual parents to other children, some whom may be fatherless.
So there we were at RS complete with balloons, pumps, pens and all…and lo and behold, no one was there. It was the fasting month and many children had to help out their family at the daily food bazaar. Only two new students finally turned up but we wanted the previous batch of students to also attend and enjoy this second session. So armed with balloon sculptures, we went to a couple of flats and knocked on doors. The earlier batch of kids all could not make it for various reasons but we met a few new children along the way and they were really excited to see the balloon animals and the flowers. I was praying for at least 10 students and 15 of them would be great and mercifully we finally drew in 15 children. At one point, we literally had children following us to the Reading Station and it was very encouraging. Needless to say, my boys and my hubby too had great fun that day and I had a lot of exercise so that was a nice bonus. All in all, it was a great day.
Challenges? I am not quite in a position to share on challenges since I’ve just started volunteering. But, something else, more challenging comes to mind. As we went knocking on doors looking for students, I was reminded about the poor living conditions of the place. Lifts were broken down (and waiting for lifts took a long time), doors have fallen apart, graffiti filled the walls, rubbish even faeces decorated the stairwells – all these were not exactly the most conducive of living conditions.
My thoughts were that many who live there either don’t have much of a choice in the matter or they themselves contributed to the terrible condition because they are bitter with life. The challenge I realise is that we need to do something about it. Not at once, maybe not in the very near future but there has to be a long term plan to transform the entire community and improving its environment. Of course that’s easier said than done but we have a powerful God of the impossible and with His help we can make an impact on the children we serve and also in the process make an impact on their parents, their friends, relatives and the entire community. It may take years of hard work but I believe that God has a purpose for this community, a purpose that is far beyond the reading classes and interesting activities we now hold. What we are presently doing is opening a door to this community who really needs support.
My message is, if you are already volunteering and serving the disadvantaged, continue your amazing work. If you are not, do consider giving a little of your time to Reading station and see how God works. I’m starting small myself due to my other commitments but I believe as we each bring something small to those at Reading Station, God will perform his great miracle of impactful change.