Talking refugees with preschoolers
I had the opportunity earlier this week to speak to the preschool students at Mother Earth's Children Preschool about refugees. How do you discuss such a heavy topic with 2-5 year olds?! I didn't know exactly, but the globe and the book "Welcome" by Barroux helped guide the way. We asked the kids about camping, and what they thought it would be like if they had to go camping but not return to their home. We asked them what item they would bring from their home if they could not return. An enormous thank you to Katy Mckay and her school for the opportunity to speak about refugees and for your continued support and dedication to "stay in the conversation" about how we can all love refugees, no matter how little we are!
Below is the script that I used to prepare for my talk. Yes, I needed notes to give a presentation to preschoolers. Because I spend so much time with one in particular, they surprise me more and more everyday with their capacity for empathy, compassion, and curiosity. Plus there were 12 sets of little adorable eyes on me, and I wanted to be on my game.
Your home, your city, your country, your continent is VERY safe. MEC preschool is a very safe, secure, and comforting place to be. You have food, water, shelter, a house, warm bed and warm blankets, family and friends to take care of you. But, there are some places of the world that are very different from where you and I live, that are not like where we live.
In some parts of the world, very far away, in these places that are different from where you and I live, there are some families and people that get forced away from their homes because they don't feel safe to stay in their homeland. These people have to find another place to run to. These people are called refugees. They are kind people from loving families just like us. Right now, there are 65 million refugees in the world, 65 million people who have been displaced from their homes and had to run to other areas of the world for safety.
((*If the kids ask WHO or WHAT forced these people away from their homeland, we can say: Groups of people who had lots of power who did not act kindly and did not keep everyone in their country safe. This led to events like war, or circumstances like hunger, not enough food or water or other resources for all of the people.))
Sometimes the refugees run to a country that will let them work and live in their cities. Other times they run to places called refugee camps that are set up specifically for refugees with tents or huts for them to live in. But, in these camps, there are not always schools, enough food, medicine, or even basic needs. The conditions at these camps are not great, but they are better than being back in their unsafe homeland.
I will be going to a refugee camp in a country called Uganda, in Africa. I am going with a team called One Light Global that helps refugees start new lives in the places they have had to run to. One Light Global also helps think of new ways to make the lives of refugees better.
Who has been camping before? When we go camping we get to decide how long to go, like for a few days, and we get to come back to our homes and take a bath or shower and pack up all our camping gear for next time. But, What if we didn’t have a choice about this? What would it be like if we had to do it all the time? Kids and teachers discuss.....
The book Welcome by Barroux was an engaging story that mirrored a basic general concept of a refugee group and their journey to find a safe place to settle, using polar bears and other groups of animals in engaging illustrations. And after the story, I showed the kids pictures from the primary school in Nakivale refugee camp, the school that One Light Global funded with generous donations from all of our supporters, including their teacher and families and preschool community. The kids from MEC Preschool hope to send the kids at Gambellan Future Hope Nursery and Primary School some homemade gifts...Stay Tuned!
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