Project: Week 6 – Interpersonal Relationships and Empathy

This week we upped our game. After a long meeting with the Psychologist at Paz y Esperanza, we decided as a group that although the topics we were covering were important in leadership, the sessions were not addressing real problems the children are facing. So, after several hours of further planning, we will now directly be covering sexual relationships, drug and alcohol abuse, gangs, and Depression.

Our Interpersonal Relationships session began with a boat game: the children must all get on to a piece of paper which is then reduced in size. We purposely left whether it was competitive or a team game out of the description. Interestingly,some groups came up with ways to work together as a team, and some just went with the ‘shove them off’ approach.

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In discussion groups we asked each child to reflect on the game and how working – or not working – as a team made them feel. They then wrote down 4 or 5 words which should describe their relationships with others. Some examples included:

  • Respect
  • Honesty
  • Kindness
  • Friendship
  • Love

As a creative activity to encourage each child to reflect personally, we asked them to draw their families and relationship with each member. Although generally positive, we were also able to identify some who may need some extra input or support through the psychologist.

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Our main breakthrough this week was an anonymous prayer box: we encouraged each child to write anonymously what they are struggling with and to put it in the box. Although it was difficult to read some of the real issues these children are living with (e.g. domestic violence, death, alcoholism, cancer, malaria, and other illnesses), it has also given us the opportunity to build trusting relationships and create an environment where they feel more able to open up.

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Learnings this week: what I really learned this week is to value the friendships and relationships that I have, without taking them for granted. A lot of these children don’t have families, have violent families, or are facing issues no child their age should ever have to worry about. I know how blessed I am with the friends and family that I have 🙂

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