I'm involved with Horizons
Initiative. I'm a Playspace Activity
Leader, or PAL. Once a week I go to a shelter for homeless families and
the other PAL and I play with the kids from 6pm-8pm. We've had a day of
intensive training with H.I. where we were told a few things about what
the kids need (in particular continuity, reliability, someone/something
they can trust, freedom to explore and develop their bodies, minds, feelings)
and how to run the gig. Never say "No", if you can avoid it. There's always
a way to deal with any situation without using the "N" word, but you got
to think fast! It's more challenging than any video game out there. The
rewards are immense (like getting tackled by a bunch of 3 year olds all
at once). It develops respect for the work of parenting and childcare in
general. H.I. provides additional "training" through the PAL forum which
hosts guest speakers active in the field of child development.
The other activity is just taking off the ground.
I'm getting organized to teach basic computer skills to Sudanese refugees
who landed in Boston in the past 8 months or so. They are part of group
know as "The Lost Boys", who fled southern Sudan when their villages and
families were destroyed by the armies of the dominant northern part of
the country, about 15 years ago. They were all boys who escaped and walked
up to three months to refugee camps in Ethiopia, later to Kenya after facing
more bullets from the Ethiopian government. Now many of them are young
adults who are rapidly learning how to make a living and get education
in american society. There is a web site on these people's plight in Sudan
and also on the refugees in the US, www.sudanlostboys.com.
By the way while these people are still getting bombed as of October 2001
(more info on the Sudan) I'm just a recent addition
to an impressive network of volunteers and agencies who've been helping
these men resettle in Eastern Massachusetts. The computer classes will
take place at a very happening youth center called ROCA (brief
description * 1999
article * web site?) in Chelsea,
the city in which many of the Sudanese young men are now living.
We hope to get started sometime in early november '01.
I have a web
page dedicated to the computer class
where I'll post schedules, materials, links, ideas, etc.
I have to thank my friend Adnan
for introducing me to both Horizons Initiative and to ROCA. He ran the
for Kosovar Youth which offered weekly
classes for Kosovo Albanians re-settled in the Boston area. He's one of
my inspirations for setting up this computer class.
From time to time I have a crazy idea.
Like a software company that hires kids off
the street. Mornings are for classes, afternoons for producing. The idea
is to have a highly qualified staff teach them and chop up the work into
manageable assignments. The challenge for the teachers/managers is not
only to get the technical and business aspects of the projects to work,
but also to make a match between what needs to be done and how the recruits
might be able to get it done. Another challenge is to "let them go" when
they're ready to fly with their own wings, and maybe join a more traditional
company -- or start their own -- or do something entirely different. Can
you envision a company where the main product is negative employee retention?
Where there's a CEO, a CFO, but also a Chief Social Worker and a Chief
Educator? I dunno, sounds pretty crazy to me.