Reflections from Liberia
Alexis shares her experience traveling back to Liberia- the place where the Playing To Live! program was born...
It’s been 24 hours since I have arrived back to South Africa and as I recover from jet lag and 6 days of non stop work, I feel as if the reality of Playing to Live! is hitting me in strong waves. While I was working and traveling in Liberia, my mind and heart was focused on getting as much work done in the little time I had. I visited three sites, met with our core staff, met with our program associates, met with the amazing UNICEF representative who believes in us so much, amongst many others.
When I visited the children, it was only for a few minutes. My role is to be in the background so that the children see our Liberian staff as the representatives of our program, but even still the children greeted me with a sign that says “I love you.” I immediately locked eyes with this young boy, and he quietly said “I love you.” I knelt in front of him and through small tears, I told him I loved him as well. I felt an urgency to make him know how much my heart has been with him since we started the program and how much my heart is with him after I leave. How much work people around the world are doing to support a smile on his face and a healing in his heart. The urgency that I felt was relieved when I reminded myself that he will be reminded of how special he is through every play activity and every moment that our staff has with him. He will be reminded through the lasting effects that teaching healing arts can have.
As long as we work to support this work, the Playing to Live! children will continually be reminded of how special they are.
#playingtolive #Ebola #Ebolasurvivors #UNICEFgrant #RESH # Liberia # SouthAfrica #creativesuperheros #creativearttherapies #playtherapy #arttherapy #yogatherapy
5 days in #Liberia has been a whirlwind and one thing we can say is that our #UNICEF grant in partnership with #RESH is in full swing and greater than anyone could have ever imagined.
Yesterday Alexis visited more sites and was greeted by a handmade poster by a child at the #Ebola orphanage who has loved participating in the Playing To Live! program. It was an emotional moment for everyone, but especially Alexis who is seeing the smiles of these children we have all been working to help for the very first time.
Here are a few more pictures from Alexis's trip. The Liberia team, pictured below, has been working so hard to make Playing To Live! Liberia a success and we are so proud of them! Thank you!
Since October Alexis has dreamed about seeing this project that has affected her life and the lives of so many others. As she made her way to Liberia she couldn't even comprehend the excitement and anticipation of being there!
We look forward to bringing you along on this journey...
Please continue to support our mission by donating to our fundraising campaign at
Empowering our Local Volunteers
I am constantly amazed by the enthusiasm we at Playing to Live! receive from our partners here and in Liberia. In my studies in Public Health, we receive warnings that communities may be resistant to what we are bringing. There is a fear that the programming and training is only geared towards western ideals.
Before we start any training, we sit down with our cultural liaisons and ask them to work with us to adapt our programming and training to match it with the ideals and language of the community.
Even then we ended up having a discussion today about how our training will need to once again be adapted when we move it from urban Pretoria to rural South Africa. One of our participants spoke about how certain words and explanations would not translate well in a rural setting. This type of critique is very exciting because it shows us that we are building an empowering space for the communities we work with to take ownership over our work! We have invited her and others to meet with us after the 3 week holiday program to address how to adapt and build.
Help us continue our training program by donating to our South Africa fundraising campaign! Time is running out so donate now!
Today at TLF we started our second Playing to Live! training. This time for coordinators of the different programs within the organization, including half way houses for families and homeless outreach. Around half of the coordinators are certified social workers while the others are well experienced due to their daily work.
Something beautiful that continually struck me was how much the individuals were getting excited about our training.
They were sharing examples of how they have used the techniques we are teaching them, but they didn’t know it. Our expressive arts therapy training acted as an affirmation for the incredible work they are already doing, but it also is teaching them techniques to build on.
Time is running out to support this important programming in South Africa! Donate Today! https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/support-south-african-children-playing-to-live#/story
The training program is off to an amazing start! Our volunteers are learning and growing each day and the PTL! team is so excited to share with you the work of these incredible individuals!
Dance and music is a huge part of our training and it helpings volunteers embrace their own "inner child" and learn to play!
Rock on PTL! South Africa!
Help support our training program at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/support-south-african-children-playing-to-live#/story
Alexis has begun her training in South Africa to 24 volunteers who will use our programming and training to not only work with the children during the holiday program, but also in their daily work with the children in the shelters.
This was the first time we have been able to implement our full training program, and we are blown away by the success. Alexis trained volunteers from 9-3:30, and the volunteers were engaged the WHOLE time. During breaks they told Alexis and Megan how much they loved the experiential learning that was involved with the training.
What are our volunteers working on right now?
Volunteers are asked to role play being a child and creates a drawing, while their partner acts as the implementer, and the other partner observes and comments on what they saw. Our volunteers loved this process and really came to appreciate what it is like to make art with someone to witness and respect their creations!
We know it was a success because by the end of the training, the volunteers were critiquing examples and exploring beyond the training.
Welcome to Our Blog!
We will be providing you with stories of the communities we support. The children and their caregivers featured in this blog have provided consent to share their art, pictures and stories.