[Posted by Lou]
Today, our last day of work, saw the Project Team making their way to a rural school for the SeeBeyondBorders Health Program.
As usual, we were greeted at the school by waves, smiles and such excitement. It was go-stations as soon as we arrived, setting up our three stations with equipment as the principal of the school (who also attended our workshops) organised the children into grades. On this particular day there were around 100 children from grades 4-6.
Barb did a magnificent job at the hand washing station, explaining the importance of washing the germs off our hands before we eat. The children learnt the importance of washing with soap and water, away from the water source. The children all took home a fresh soap in a stocking, with a handy loop that fits around their wrist. Great job, Barb!
Next up, the kids were rotated around to the next station for tooth brushing practice. With the help of Kia’s translation, as well as numerous displays of large muscles to show strength, I explained the importance of cleaning teeth twice a day to keep them healthy and strong. Along with my trusty assistant, Chris, we demonstrated how to brush our teeth a total of seven times. You should have seen our pearly whites at the end of the rotations. Chris entertained the crowd with his incredible vocal range as he showed just how exciting tooth brushing can be with many foamy-mouthed expressions of “mmmmmm ooooooh wow” as well as the best gargle you’ve heard in Cambodia. Fortunately we received the tip from our Mr Ed to show the kids a place to spit out, so they did not land it all over our feet.
Watching the faces of the kids as they heard they could take their toothbrush and paste home was just a joy. The giggles and looks at each other as they brushed was beautiful. The pride in showing their strong teeth after brushing was too cute!
Following tooth brushing, the children moved to the “nurse’s station” where we were lucky enough in fact to have two of our very own nurses on board, Liz and Aideen. The children were weighed and their height measured. Mr Ed and Jo completed the sometimes difficult task of keeping the records up to date so that children’s statistics can be tracked over time. This will allow the SBB team in the future to assist families of children at particular risk.
Siobhan took it upon herself to be chief organiser/entertainer/child whisperer to the kids that were in between a station. She couldn’t help herself as she gave the village kids a lesson in maths as they counted toothbrushes. A job well done! She also enlisted their help to distribute to the next group of children; they very willingly obliged and seemed delighted to be involved. Siobhan made sure that her lovely little children there also received a lesson in brushing and their own supplies to take home. Bless!
Following the rotations, grade 6 were invited into a classroom where they were shown the Health Pack bags that St Mary’s Manly school children had lovingly created and donated. The pride and delight in being able to select their favourite to keep was written all over their faces. What a thrill to see.
I must say (and I will take the liberty seeing as I am writing this blog) that I just had the BEST time today! A real highlight. The joys we receive seem to always come back to the people, the children, the faces, the personalities. It never ceases to amaze me here just how much can be communicated between two people simply through a shared experience, a smile and a laugh. We most certainly felt like we received bucket loads more than we gave today.
What a special privilege it is to be a part of this amazing SBB team who are so giving in their energy and love. It is an honour to be here and even have a tiny role to play in the incredible achievements of SeeBeyondBorders. We all take our hat off to our beloved Kate and Ed for their tireless work, endless patience and inspiring passion for bringing change through education. We have seen it. Lived it. Loved it! Thank you will never be enough.