Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Programme stories

We've just finished activities in the south of the country in Dar'a and Sueida, both very popular. We're averaging 975 children per week of activity, very close to our optimum capacity of around 1000, that's 12,676 children in total now. I'm feeling very pleased with that, but I'm just as pleased with the reactions of people, and the little stories which the team bring back with them. In Sueida one teacher burst into floods of tears, because she had been longing for 20 years for something like this to be available for her pupils. Zuhair had to call one of the green team to look after her because he was about to start crying too.

Dina asked one teenager in Dar'a what she liked best about the debate activity. "Expressing myself" was the reply. But, Dina asked, was there something specific, like making the video clips or designing a newspaper front page, that excited you a lot. "Just expressing myself and exchanging views was best" came the reply. And that says a lot about how much this programme offers young people chances to think, exchange views, have an opinion and be listened to, that they just don't get in their normal lives. One teenager from the north said he wished his parents could have been with him so that they could see and hear him in the debate, and realise that he has his own point of view about the world.

We get a few parents uneasy about the start of the show, where children are encouraged to shout and wave their arms about. We have to explain that this is very deliberate - by working off some of the children's physical energy at the beginning of the programme, we reduce the likelihood that they'll get disruptive later on. And everyone, teachers especially, comments on how much control the green team have over the children, all done with a few very effective techniques which still allow lots of freedom and spontaneity. Lots of adults ask where we found these "professionals" and are amazed when we explain that the green team were recruited by advertisement, and had three weeks' training to do what they're doing now.

Next week we start to tackle the north and east of the country - much more rural areas by and large, so I'm expecting still more different responses.


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