As March approaches, grey winter days are slowly being replaced by sunshine and flower buds, the first signs of spring. At CRP’s After School Club, this is a cause for celebration as soccer balls and jump ropes are brought out and the children have an opportunity to release some of the energy they have been storing up all winter. After School Club meets every weekday afternoon, but not all of the children who participate are in school; the auxiliary costs, such as registration fees, uniforms, and other supplies, are too high for many refugee families. After School Club provides these children with the opportunity to play, to find friends, and to learn basic English and math.
On Tuesday, the sun is out. Two thirteen-year-old girls pick teams for a game of basketball. There are no rules, and no one is keeping score. One of the girls, Nadia, has a sprained wrist, but it doesn’t stop her dribbling with her other hand. Inside, volunteers Jess and Sara arrange chairs for a game of musical chairs, while at a table, a boy somehow ends up with red paint on his nose instead of on his paper. “I’m drawing a heart,” the boy next to him announces.
Jess and Sara have been volunteering at CRP for almost a month now. “I worked at a daycare center, so I have experience working with children. I’ve wanted to make use of that experience here in a community in a need,” Sara says. “I can see the children coming out of their shells a little bit. I enjoy talking with them about their day, playing with them.”
The children at After School Club range in age from six to twelve, and come from a variety of different ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. Nadia is Jordanian. “I used to come every day, but I stopped because of school,” she says. “I like to come when I can.”
There is a break midway through for falafel sandwiches, and then Jess and Sara gather the children together.
“We were doing numbers in English and Arabic. So learning basic English, playing basketball, and playing musical chairs — those are the top activities,” Sara says.
After School Club provides the children in CRP’s community the opportunity to not be refugee children or Jordanian children, but to simply be kids.