Loretto nourishes the creative spirit in Pakistan
Some believe poverty hinders creativity; Loretto believes otherwise.
St. Anthony School is situated in the slums of Lahore where people earn $1 or $2 per day. The students come in uniform so no one can judge their economic backgrounds. Our school is in the old convent which does not have much playground space nor proper classrooms. This does not hinder the kids from learning and being educated, but what to do about games, one of the important components of maintaining and developing the child’s healthy mind and body?
Little girls all over the world play with dolls and doll houses but when the parents’ first and foremost concern is to feed the child, dolls and other toys look like extravagances.
At our school, when they reach 5th grade, the girls are taught to make dolls and doll dresses. They make the dresses at home, not with sewing machines, but with simple needles and thread. Some students make female dolls and others make male dolls and they hold marriage ceremonies. In the ceremonies they practice the adult roles they have seen around them.
The boys want different games. Some time ago the 8th grade boys came with Sr. Maria to ask me if they could use some of the bricks and sticks from trees to build in the garage. I was amazed at their inventiveness. After they finish, they put the bricks and sticks back in the storeroom and they construct again next time they want to play.
It is amazing to see the kids’ imaginations and how they interact and engage in the world around them from a very young age. They get to introduce their creations at the school assembly which gives them confidence and helps them to work as a team. When children have to produce something in a given time, they learn discipline and dedication.In some kids, we see leadership qualities — they learn to negotiate and share; they develop self-advocacy skills and cultivate a strong bond with the rest of the class.
Poverty cannot build walls around the minds of poor kids. They surprise you with their ideas and creativity, accomplishing so much with so little. Most of the children have never visited the zoo in Lahore, so they built a zoo in the school.
We are surprised daily in little ways by our kids and the people around us. They teach us to be thankful — we have so much and they don’t, yet still live happily.
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Photos courtesy of Nasreen Daniel SL