Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Around this time a year, we are reminded to give thanks of the many things in life that we have or or were privileged to have had. Here at the House of Dreams we’re thankful for a lot of things. Here’s the short list:
- a house that accommodates all 15 Dreamers
- a warm, family atmosphere, as opposed to an institution
- the opportunity our Dreamers have to get a good, solid education
- The people from all over the world who support us and/or come down help us out
- a loving and incredibly gracious God who has provided all of the things above and so much more!
What are some things that you thankful for?
Have you ever heard of a Flat Stanley Project? I had never even heard the term until Kaylynn, a former volunteer at the HOD, e-mailed me with the idea of possibly doing one with the kids. She figured it would be a great way to stay in contact that would keep them interested.
A Flat Stanley in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Flat Stanley started off as a children’s book, where Stanley, the main character of course, was flattened by a bulletin board. Stanley made the best of his flattened state, using to his advantage on his various adventures. A Flat Stanley Project is obviously based off of the same idea. Kids make a paper doll, and mail it to different friends around the world. The friends receive the doll and take it with them to special places around their city or to famous locations and take pictures with it, before sending it back with the pictures. After several months, the kids have a collection of pictures of their doll in popular places in different places that they can’t get to quite as easily.
Have any of you ever done this? If so, how did it work out for you? Let us know!
Every so often we have “family talks” with all of the Dreamers. A few weeks ago, we talked about how we can respect each other as a family. Each Dreamer gave their answer that went on the poster ( not hitting each other, sharing, helping someone when they fall down, etc). After the ideas, each one signed the poster agreeing that the will treat their brothers and sisters and their tias (aunts – the staff) with respect.
After the lesson, the kids went outside to play. It was great to see them treating each other with more respect. Isaura was cryng, so Jose Luis handed her a doll, took her by the hand and said, “Isaura don’t cry you can come play with us in the backyard”. Juan Daniel fell while he was running, so Jose ran to him and helped him up. Then Shirley and Emelin came running up to me to let me know they were sharing their toys.
If you have other lessons or projects that we can use for our “family talks” they would be much appreciated. While they’re still young, we can take the opportunity to continue forming strong family values in our Dreamers.
You live in a country you weren’t born in. Your millions of neighbors all speak a language you have labored to learn. Poverty plagues the majority of the inhabitants of the land you walk on. Needs scream to be met threatening to push out the peace you desperately cling to in your soul. Your head begins to spin as too many decisions make the stress levels soar. You try to keep it together.
Focus. A child reaches up and touches your hand. You glance down. The dirty face, chapped from the cold, frames glassy eyes with red, pink, and deep tan. Tap. Tap. Tap. The hand gently begs. A coin. A piece of bread. Lips move, mumbling the chant of hunger.
What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
You see a need. It spurs your own need to help. Ideas pop like the corn kernels in the lady’s pot on the corner as she sirs with her wooden spoon. With one hand she holds the lid over the heat; the other hand moves the greasy mixture. Your own hand moves to your head as the ideas keep coming. Then it moves to your heart as the child turns to go with slumped shoulders. Your hand goes to your pocket for some money. You grab the child’s hand and place the cold coins in the colder fingers.
The ideas. What are they? Have you written them down? Have you acted on them?
Really, I am asking you. What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
In a house full of kids a playmate can always be found, games can be invented and reinvented for hours, and work becomes light when everyone pitches in to help. Mixed in with all the goodness we also find some things inevitably go overlooked. The one on one attention that might make a difference between a pass or fail grade is not often a luxury we cannot afford. Moments slip by when an ear to listen to what’s heavy on a child’s heart take a back seat when the laundry piles high and there are mouths to feed.
Looking at the mass of kids and considering meeting each one of their individual needs seems downright overwhelming.
But could I help just one? I think so.
Starting next year I want to implement a Big Brothers Big Sisters program at the House of Dreams. We have the privilege to lean upon the close relationship the orphanage has with the church. From that pool of believers I think seventeen people would be interested in being a part of this type of program.
This is the part where you come in. I am looking for advice for implementation. Were you ever a Big Brother or a Big Sister (Little Brother or Little Sister)? Have you ever run a mentoring program with children ages 10 and under? I would love to hear about your experiences. Even if you have never personally been involved in a program like this I am still in the formulation stages and would love some input.
I feel like pairing up the kids with qualified individuals in a well structured program could have a positive impact in the lives of the Dreamers.
Oh, and if you have any suggestions for a name for the program that would be great too.
Photo by: Melinda Gore
At lunch yesterday, Estefani says, “Tomorrow is the last day of November so that means its going to be December and it will soon be Christmas!”
With that reminder from our 10 year old dreamer, its time to start decorating the House of Dreams. Do you have any good homemade decorations and Christmas craft ideas for our kids?
Now that school is officially out for the summer, instead of just five Dreamers at home during the day, there will be seventeen. With seventeen kids around all day, it’s very easy to run out of ideas to keep them occupied. After so playing the same games for so much time they get bored or begin to get in trouble.
Anne is one of the Dreamers who is very excited about summer.
If you are a parent, have worked with kids, or just good at coming up with creative ideas, then we need your help!
What are some fun summer ideas for a group of seventeen kids? Any games, arts, crafts, or other activities that you could suggest? Let us know!
All of the kids at the House of Dreams love special events. Whether it be, horseback riding, bowling, or arts and crafts they love the experience of doing something fun that’s not a part of their daily routine.
The four oldest girls, Estefani, Anne, Jhoselyn and Emelin, have discovered a new activity that they love and everybody benefits from. They have began to learn how to bake cookies.
Jhoselyn showing off their work before putting them in the oven.
The girls love being able to get into the kitchen to bake. Every time they get to bake, they try out a different recipe. They love to bake them, everyone else loves to eat them. It’s a win for everyone.
What are some of your favorite types of cookies to bake? Send us the recipe!
The hours from 7pm-10pm are probably the most hated hours of the day by kids all around the world. For a majority of the world, somewhere around these hours means bedtime.
Kid’s hate bedtime, this includes our dear Dreamers. I’m not sure why kids hate it when going to bed is something they’ve done every day for their entire lives.
Fernando getting some much needed rest.
We hear the same complaints and excuses every night. One my personal favorites that always makes me laugh is, “I have to go to the bathroom.” This is usually their attempt to buy all the time they can before giving in to this dreaded part of their daily routine. Others choose to cry or act out when it’s time to go to bed. This does not make me laugh.
Something we’ve tried lately is gathering them all around and having a “story time” before bed. Seems to be working so far, but will it last? Only time will tell.
What are some of your methods/ideas for a smooth bedtime?
Last week the orphanage director, Cristina, implemented a behavioral chart at the House of Dreams. We sat down with the Dreamers in a serious 15 minute meeting to discuss how this new system works. The chart lists all of the children’s names and each child is given 1o points per day for the entire week. They lose 1 point every time they misbehave.
The “Big Kids” chart. Sunday was a rough day for some.
The "Little Kids" chart. Uh oh, some have lost points.
Why do they care whether or not they lose points? By Saturday, who ever has less than 60 points gets a privilege taken away. (The 10 points for Sunday are included, and are essentially bonus points.) Last week, the youth group at Christ Nation Church took the well-behaved children to the park. Jose Luis and his older sister Jhoselyn had to miss out on Saturday’s events. They pretended not to care, but when asked about why they couldn’t go, I could see they wish they had gone.
This Saturday, Carolina’s parents invited the House of Dreams to a restaurant to celebrate their oldest daughter’s birthday over ice cream. The Dreamers behavior have improved tremendously this week. So far, everyone still has all of his/her points. It seems as if the children are beginning to understand that there really are consequences for misbehaving. Could these charts be miracle makers? We shall wait and see.
What are some other incentives/rewards we can offer the Dreamers for their good behavior? We’d love to hear your ideas!