Monday, December 8, 2008

Story of Jose, Esdras and Erick

by Kayon Watson
Drama Instructor, Diaspora of Hope 2008, Guatemala

We were in the middle of theater class. Jose, Esdras and Erick were playing around in there "time out corners" and I was up to my limit with them. Instead of raising my voice, I took them all by the hand and we walked outside behind the chapel, over the bridge and into an area where we would not be disturbed. I was so frustrated with them, I couldn’t say any words for at least the first minute. They were laughing like it was a joke, so I waited until they stopped laughing and I began to speak.
After they understood that this was not a laughing matter, the real communication started.
I said to them that sometimes we laugh when we are nervous, or scared or frustrated or we had our feelings hurt. They began to nod there heads as they continued to look at the ground. I asked, what people think of boys, young men, or adult men in La Limonada. The boys said "thieves, killers, and drug users". When I asked that question, I didn’t know if I would really get an answer, but I did. That was enough for Erick to feel comfortable enough to open up about how his dad has been drinking heavily and how he feels really bad for him and disappointed. All I could do was listen.
I told them, "You don’t need to be like those men, you can make decisions now to be different. Even while we are in class, you can decide to make better decisions and not break the rules." They all agreed with me and I asked them if I can have there commitment that they were going to try to make better decisions in there lives and be different than what people expect to them be. Esdras and Erick gave me a hand shake in commitment, but Jose decided that he was not sure yet.

Story of Wendy
On our 6 hour bus ride to the camp, some of the adolescent girls and I were playing different hand games. Wendy was one of them. Wendy was in my theater class, but was very quiet, even a bit shy. This was the complete opposite of what I saw on the bus. Later on in the week, I saw that she got in trouble for throwing a fist at another girl in the lunch line; again, I saw a different side of Wendy. Later that night I had a conversation with her teacher about her behavior. Her teacher began to tell me how her mother is very rough with her. Her mother works as a garbage worker, picking up the plastics and cardboard pieces from the different open air markets for money and that Wendy works with her as well. Her mom is verbally abusive and when she gets mad enough, beats her. "Sometimes her mom will drag her by the hair across the room." Her teacher informed me. This helped me get a better picture of why Wendy’s life seemed so complex.

The dress rehearsal for the big show began. Many of the kids in the play were laughing with uncontrollable excitement. Wendy barely could speak her lines without bursting into laughter. As for me, I was on the side watching as the play fell to pieces because the kids were laughing and talking on stage. After there scene, one of the Buildabridge teachers went to talk to her about not laughing because her story was important and people need to hear it, but her laughing grew more intense and then turned into crying. So was crying so hard, she was taken back stage with a teacher as they helped console her. Her tears were not just from that one time on stage, it was a overflow of emotions that didn’t know where to go or what to do, except in that moment, the best thing to do was cry. Who knows what other things came out in those tears in that moment.

So it’s now the day of the celebration and the first group up is the dance class. In the corner of my eye, I see Wendy laughing at the kids on stage. I immediately go over to her and tell her, that we are going to try something different, but laughing at others or yourself is not the best way. We practiced breathing techniques or looking at the wall instead of others to calm her nerves.

But my nerves were really going all over the place, hoping a repeat of the dress rehearsal wouldn’t come to fruition again. It was time for Wendy’s part and I was holding my breath. I was so shocked, amazed and proud of the job she did. You could tell that she was nervous and was uncomfortable being up there, but she said her lines, without one laugh and scurried of the stage when she was done. I WAS SO PROUD OF HER!!! She confronted a fear with such courage and bravery, it was inspiring to me. At the end of the show, I gave her a big hug and told her how proud I was of her and that she as an inspiration to me. She looked at me with a sense of humility and gratefulness. I don’t know how many times people have genuinely thanked her in her short life. I asked her what was the most important thing she learned in theater class and she said, "I learned more about God".

Quotes from Kids in the Class
Kevin- I would like to have the characteristic of a lion so that I can run really fast away from violence.
Samy- I would like to have the characteristics of a butterfly so I can have wings to fly all over the world and see different countries.
Erick- The most important thing I learned in theater class was not to kill people (8yrs old).
Deyri- The most important thing I learned in theater class was to confront my fears and keep moving forward.

Story of Sara
The play for the theater class was Noah’s Ark of Hope in La Limonada, 2008. The kids wrote out their stories about an life incident that did not start out very well, but concluded with a happy ending--similar to biblical story of Noah’s ark. Sara´s story was about her brother being shot and killed 2 weeks before camp. The day of the celebration was his birthday. As she was acting out her story, she was pretend crying over his dead body. Soon her drammatic crying turned into deep tears of pain. One of her teachers went and consoled her. The fact that she is only 10 years old and she had enough courage to act out her own story of pain, but also of hope that her brother is now in Heaven with God, was braver than what most adults would be able to do.

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