It all began with a waste can. The teacher had just completed the anti-trafficking lesson from Born 2 Fly on how all choices have consequences and how to make right choices. There were 5 children in the class with 2 teen-aged helpers who had gone through the class the week before and were taking turns telling the story and practice-teaching. Craft time came next. Crafts were choreographed to complement the lesson. I expected the teen teachers to ready the tables for the craft, to help students gather their materials for the craft and to help those who may need help with scissors or using the glue gun during the craft, and, at the end, clean up after the crafting was over. Instead, the teens sat down to do the craft, too. An adult would, once in awhile, tell them to do something, but most of the time they would craft. They would switch back and forth between being a student again and taking responsibility for the lessons. As I look back on it now, this was the beginning of what was to become, for me, a big problem. Their role had not been defined from the beginning and the lack of boundaries confused them. Lack of boundaries makes it easy for traffickers, they have nothing to break down to get a child to do what they want them to do. This was a big miss-step on the part of our team.
After craft time, scraps of paper had to be cleared away and taken to the trash. One of the oldest elementary-aged kids gathered her trash up herself and took it to the waste can which was clear across the big social hall of the church where we were meeting. I said to her, “Good job! Please bring the waste can across the social hall so it is close to the craft table and then everyone will not have to walk as far as you just did.” She shook her head “no” and said, “I’m not doing that!” I stood up to talk to her about it and the head teacher and director of the program both got up after the girl returned to the craft table and pulled the waste can to the craft table themselves.
I met them halfway across the social hall as if to say, “You are going to let her get away with that?” The director said, “We can’t insist. She didn’t want to come to this and her mother made her come. We just need to love her.” I said, “What she did was completely disrespectful, I would not let her go on this one. This is the first day, and you get your best behavior on the first day. If you don’t correct this, it will only get worse, but I defer to you. You are the minister and the director…”
The girl came back the next day. Her mother said she had a great time. She had learned a lot her mother said. She had not learned respect and boundaries, though, as we went into day 2. Day 2…tomorrow.
If you were not here yesterday, this is the second installment of a series I am doing about my experience helping coordinate 2 pilot sessions of Born 2 Fly anti-trafficking day camps this summer in my hometown. I type here to deconstruct what happened during this heart wrenching week for me. Thanks for leaving your comments.