I am sitting in the room listening to the first few paragraphs of the blogs that the boys have written and I am taken away. It is the second workshop that I have carried out with youth from USK’s Street Children and Youth Associations and I am impressed. Their first blogs cover a range of topics from police harassment, role models, and the negative consequences of drugs. While I know I am sitting in a room with eight boys who live or have lived on the streets, hearing their stories is the only thing reminding me of that fact.
While I am thrilled that the work they produce will be wonderful, it bothers me that I was impressed today. Why should I automatically assume that youth living and working on the streets will take a long time to understand blogging or struggle to write a good blog? I figured that the kids I would be teaching would be uneducated, high and generally hard to teach but as I learned today, these preconceived notions were wildly off the mark.
Participants from USK’s street associations writing the first paragraphs of their first blogs.
Of course, there are some youth living on the streets that have never been to school for a day in their lives and are high on drugs, but this does not mean that they are representative of all youth on the streets. Seeing the boys today paying attention and being excited to learn was one of those epiphany moments when you realize how naïve you were just minutes before when you did not understand the issue you thought you knew so well.
Harrison beginning his blog.
At least after today, I know that one of my project’s goals will be fulfilled – a change in public perceptions of children and youth living on the streets. People often see them as criminals, drug addicts and generally nuisances to society and evidently, I had some stereotypes buried away too. So along with the Kenyan public, government officials and the international community, I, the instructor, am in fact included in this target audience for these youth. My stereotypes have already been changed just after hearing their first paragraphs – I can’t help but imagine what the impact will be once their first paragraphs turn into first posts for the entire world to see.
Posted By Kristina Rosinsky
Posted Jun 23rd, 2008