Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The 'pilgrimage' of children and youth to their rural homes

The December holidays when children and youth visit their rural homes, resembles a pilgrimage. Pilgrims travel to rekindle their connections to a sacred place and thus to nurture their relationship with the divine. Their journeys bring them, if not to a physical home, then to a “home within”, a restful, familiar, healing place that reminds them of who they are. The sacred site to which they return is connected to their roots.

It is a tradition in our children's village that children and youth visit their rural homes over the December holidays to get to know their people. It is one of those avenues through which we integrate our children to the community. Life for them in the countryside is indeed very interesting.

For those who are used to the life in SOS, you will forgive some (but not most) of them for cringing each time the village director and the mothers make plans for a trip to their homes. It means days on end without running water or proper electricity. It also means no television and plenty of time with old people. Rural home visits remind the children of the connections between them and their relatives. They feel an attachment to the countryside, nurtured by lasting ties to family and friends from whom they learn their language, know their relatives better and most importantly, are able to compare life at home and that of the SOS Children's Village and be motivated to work harder in whatever they do.

Many of our children and youth indeed look forward to this time of the year and are eager to meet their relatives. It is a comforting time to be at home. The journeys themselves are very interesting. The villages that disappear as the bus hurtles past them. Visions of riverbeds flanked by rows of trees. Children chasing passing motorists. Cattle co-existing with people in a way that make them more human than animals. Wheat spread out on the roads so that the passing vehicles could thresh them. Villagers carrying produce and baskets on their backs or heads. The sudden lurch of the bus to avoid hitting a donkey that was not fast enough to avoid its path. The appearance of a familiar sign board that announces their village. The eagerness to get off the bus and walk down the small road that leads to the house.

This 'pilgrimage' is a good practice to prepare our children for community life where water is drawn from a well and people bathe by its side. In community life children learn to share and to know that at times one must lack one thing or the other. In the process of living with the community, they also learn resilience. When they come back their stories are often varied and interesting. But one fact that is clear is that all of them want to visit their relatives during the long holidays in December and remembering it always brings a smile to their faces.


Anonymous said...

Any sort of travel will impact a person. the young must be encouraged to travel in every manner possible.
creativity is the absence of borders.
development is advanced by the sharing of different experiences that are revealed through travels.
this is a good exercise.

Anonymous said...

WOW!allowing these children visits to teir ancestralis a good gesture..kudos to you SOS..they never forget where they come from and that strengthens their character. When we dont forget where we've come from we are better people, according to me.

Anonymous said...

I like the fact that you point ut the intentions for this program. My question is whether this is achieved or not? Is there follow up to check what actually goes on during those vacations. I know there is good in the program but how do you look out for the bad?