One hundred and thirty kids were registered for camp. Everything was prepared, a team from Egypt was there to help us and the buses were bringing the kids from the refugee camps to the front gates of our center in Zahle, Lebanon. Two Egyptians for each group were checking kids in and giving them their group color. It was noisy, and most kids could not stand still from anticipation. Some kids we knew from the school and some were brand new to our center. Though a bit chaotic, it was an organized excited chaos.
As the kids were lining up I noticed one girl who had been in my group therapy classes at the school, her name is Nawrieh. Now my heart has always gone out to her because her mother is very harsh with her and speaks very poorly of her in front of the other children, guests and Nawrieh herself. Each time her mom says something about her you can see Nawrieh, a normally funny, outgoing girl, pull back when she hears her mother’s words. Though completely capable Nawrieh gets nervous when put on the spot and her backup when she feels cornered is aggression.
I walked up to her as I saw she was beginning to get a bit combative with another girl and I pulled her aside. Through a translator I reminded her that I needed her help because she goes to the school and I needed her to show the other kids who didn’t know how we act in school. Then I made her “pinky promise” me that she would do it. After that each time I needed to remind her to behave better I just had to give her the “pinky promise” and meet her eyes and see the understanding cross her face. Though her behavior was not perfect, she became one of the best behaved students in her group. And on the last day, with one last “pinky promise” and a kiss on the cheek she headed out the door and down to her bus to go home. As the kids all left the team exhaled a deep breath of a crazy but rewarding week creating an atmosphere of love and presence of Christ for all the kids who walked through our gate.
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