A lot has happened since I last wrote, we have given out 200 Soccer Balls, (thanks to my amazing friends and angel helpers), we've handed out 340 New Outfits, I've gladly given about a billion high fives, hugs, and a few kisses on the cheek, I've added tons of stars to the Star Student Board, collected over 100 new drawings of eyes, mouths, feet and hands (we learned body parts last week) and my team has officially made the move to Siada and settled into our new apartment.
Handing out the soccer balls was really amazing in the moment (smiles from ear to ear, and impatience in full force) but has been even more fruitful to see the children play with them every day since receiving them. The shelter is literally covered with kiddos playing soccer, kicking the ball around, and yelling "Miss Ana, Miss Ana" an then attempting to kick it over to me but instead kicking it the complete opposite direction. . . . but aside from the kids who can't manage to kick a soccer ball in a straight line for the life of them, there are also the kids who are extremely talented and would seriously dominate if put on any real team . . . if only they could have this chance. But here there are so many "If only's.." If only they had actual grass to play on instead of a concrete block more often than not that is filled with trash... If only they had real tennis shoes to wear, if only their tennis shoes fit them properly . . . If only they not only had tennis shoes but also cleats, and shin guards, if only they had a coach, if only the girls were encouraged to play too, if only they could grow up to play in the World Cup.... But one day, they will have the right shoes, and right gear, they will have grass to play on, and shin guards to wear, the girls will run fast alongside the boys, they will laugh together and shake hands after a fair game and become good sports. They will hold the trophy in their hands and forget about the days when they didn't have shoes to wear that fit them properly. I tell myself this at least.
But really, I need to, and want to, say Thank You. Thank you to those who supported this effort, thank you to those who donated, who cared, and who took the time to get out their debit card and type in that ridiculously long string of numbers even if you only donated $10 bucks, guess what... it seriously helped! These children having a ball puts them one step closer to the dream I dream for them on day. Thank you from me and thank you from them.
Aside from fun things like soccer balls and lofty dreams, some of my co-volunteers in Beirut were able to collectively raise over $4,500 to buy new clothes for every single child attending an SB education center in Lebanon . . . um, that's around 750 children getting new clothes... and although this might seem small, it's not. Not at all. Most of my children (aka the children I teach, which is around 60+ sweet little faces a day) most of them have been wearing the same outfit every single day since the first day I arrived (seriously) and who knows how long they had been wearing it before I got here, sometimes the clothes didn't fit right, either too small or way too big, a lot of time the clothes were ripped or ruined, all of them were stained and dirty . . . but with the money raised, each child was able to receive a new shirt and pair of pants, BRAND NEW and it fit them just right (we made sure of it)!!
Watching the kids get handed thier new clothes was an interesting experience, they seemed to get nervous at first upon receiving the clothes, maybe they were embarrassed, maybe just shy . . . maybe they felt something I wouldnt understand and could never understand, but regardless, by the end of the day the sweet and wild little girls were showing up in their purple and black leopard print pants and pink collard shirts, or their new graphic printed tee's and stretchy maroon leggings... the boys too, coming around, hanging out every so casually in their bright blue chino's and shirts with airplane graphics scattered about, or their blue and green stripes and faded denim . . . and since this day, well, they pretty much haven't taken them off. Same clothes, same outfit, same little girl, same little boy, different day.