It is an exciting feeling to meet the children for the first time when I know that I will spend many hours with them and get to know and adore them along the way. On Thursday February 20th my stay in Kampala reached one month. The same day was my first counselling with the children at Junior School. As some of the children from Junior School came to the office in order to get to school when the term started I had already met some of them. Even though they were only a few compared to the crowd of around 100 children I saw at arrival, I loved seeing some familiar faces and practicing the names I had learnt at office. Frida and I greeted all the children as they came running from class heading for the big hall where counselling was happening. Because of the large number of children we decided to divide the group in two where Frida did counselling with the smaller ones and Sharon and I did counselling with the older ones.
The topic of the day was bonding, just as with the high schoolers. The theme seemed a bit difficult for the children to grasp at first but as Sharon and I were talking and discussing with them, they fully understood. The aim with the theme was to ensure the children that bonding works in different ways. Everybody’s different and the way you bond with people is different too. Another aim was to give the children a way of thinking about their relationship with their parent in prison.
By talking about bonds with people who are close and distant and explaining their equal worth we were hoping that the children would make the connection to their parents. I was happy to see that the aim was fulfilled as we created a mind map at the end of counselling. The children got to point out people who they have bonds with and how to bond. First thing that happened was that one boy in the back of the classroom raised his hand and said that he has bonds with his father. The children pointed out loving, helping, praying, accepting, forgiving and trusting as ways to bond with other people.
The counselling session was finished off by two activities, one inside and one outside. I will carry with me precious memories especially how welcoming the children were when we were to play outside. I got to teach them a game and then they really wanted to teach me some of their favourite games. I saw some giggles as they were watching me trying to keep up with the songs, lyrics and dance moves they were showing me. It was also a special moment when one of the older girls took charge when teaching games. She truly took the lead and I was happy to see how well she led the group and made sure everyone had a good time. After such a great first experience, let’s just say that I cannot wait until next time.
Maja Lindmark; Intern, from Gothenburg University-Sweden