Summer Classes Prepare Children and New Teachers for a Great School Year


School has resumed again in Banta Mokelleh, Sierra Leone, bringing with it lots of energy and activity.  But the summer break is still in the mind of Christian, a 12-year-old boy from the Children of the Nations (COTN) Banta Children’s Village. During his two months off there was a lot of fun to be had with the Venture Interns and Venture Teams visiting from other parts of the world. But there was also time set aside each day to help children like Christian continue to learn. For one month, the older children from the Children's Village taught classes for a few hours each weekday, helping keep the younger children up to speed and ready for the next school year.

Some of the summer teachers were preparing for the school year too—COTN teens Steven Michael and N'gardy from our Children's Home in Sierra Leone graduated from COTN's secondary school last spring, and will be spending their "gap" year between high school and university teaching at COTN's primary school in Ngolala. Steven Michael was selected to serve as “principal" of the summer school. He smiles broadly as he remembers the experience. “We started from class one up to junior secondary school 3 [ninth grade]. We would have the youth from the Children's Home come and teach.”

Christian certainly enjoyed himself. “I went every day," he reports proudly. "When they gave me class work I would do it, and they would give me homework too."  Christian took his classes seriously. "I would wash before I would go. I would wear clean clothes. My friend was Idrissa. We studied together. We would do our homework together. Sometimes Steven Michael would teach us. I liked when he taught maths. Though sometimes I would get in trouble when I would cause noise in the class.” This last point wouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to Christian’s house mother in the Children’s Home, Aunty Elizabeth. “[Christian] is a very obedient boy” she smiles. “He always helps me in the kitchen, he will always help out. He studies hard.” Laughing, she then points out his playful side—probably what occasionally got him in trouble at summer school.  “He will meet you sitting down and he will pinch you!”

There is one particular lesson that Christian remembers well—the day N'gardy taught.  N’gardy explains, saying, “I taught them how to read a book and how to spell the difficult words. We read a passage and then they would take it home and read it for themselves. It was great.” Christian interrupts, explaining that N’gardy also taught them about writing. “We wrote about our pets.” Christian has a number of pets at home—a dog, cats, and his favorite, guinea pigs. But this time he chose to write something different. “I wrote about an imaginary pet dog I called 'Lion.' I said he was born on 24 December, 2013. In my story I said that he likes to eat potatoes and rice. I wrote that he liked to follow me when I go hunting in the bush.  And I love him because he would catch food for me!”

With the help of his older "brothers" and "sisters" in the Children's Homes, Christian enjoyed spending time learning during his holidays and now as another school term begins, he can continue to look forward to the new year.  “I have gone to class six,” he explains. “I will have a new teacher. They will teach me and I will listen. I want to take first position in my class.”

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