Argentina Miracle
on Mark Takefman in Barmer (India), 19/Feb/2011 13:05, 34 days ago
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In 2002 I went to anInternational Association of National Youth Serviceconference in Buenos Aries dealing with national community service programs from around the world. I was there on behalf of theNew World FoundationofNew York. The 1999-2002 economic crisis inArgentinahad left the country in a terrible state. Most of the middle class had been wiped out and the poor made poorer. Labourers from surrounding countries that had once come to the city with their families for work now found themselves stranded due to the financial collapse. The children of these workers were often left on their own. Turning to each other they formed street gangs that were responsible for crimes such as robbery, muggings, murder, rape, drug abuse and so on. Many of these gangs were made up of pre-teen kids. These kids had lost any sense of moral codes or ethics and had become (what I used to call) psychopaths or what is now called anti-social personality disorders. Before the conference I, with many of the other participants, went on a tour of various community service projects around the city. At one such project I witnessed something I felt very strongly, was nothing more than a human miracle. The project was a school that had taken in many of the migrant children from the area that were part of gangs.  The school looked more like a prison with barbed wire all around it, but it was amazingly turning these delinquent kids back in human beings and then giving them an education.  The school in the early years had suffered from much of the kinds of behaviour these kids were used to doing, such as murders. There was a high number mentioned. You could not teach these kids at this phase of their detour of life, for they had no attention span. So the basic method of approach was to get the boys to play soccer and the girls to play broom ball.  As they started to develop a sense of team work, the older children were given the roles of teachers to the younger. The process offered the kids a way to get their abundant energy out while giving them a sense of family and cooperation. Eventually they were put into small groups for classroom study. Each little step was calculated to return these children to the social world. The teachers were the real miracle makers of this story. Often having little or no pay, suffering at the hands of the kids held a tenacity that kept them to their mission. My admiration for them is endless. We got to meet and talk with some of the kids that had went through the program (with an interpreter) and marvelled at the fact that in the end, they were just kids, like any other kid you know who wants to play, have friends and a family. It was this event that was inspired my career of doing organizational development for citizen sector organizations (also known as Non-profits or NGOs) and it still motivates me to find and practice beauty and peace in this world. I am an OD advisor sponsored by VSO and has presently finished a two year posting in Barmer,Rajasthan,Indiaand will shortly undertake a one year posting inChengdu,Sichuan,China.February 18, 2011 No virus found in this message.Checked by AVG -www.avg.comVersion: 10.0.1191 / Virus Database: 1435/3453 - Release Date: 02/19/11