There isn’t anything bright about Ebola in West Africa. It’s scary. And above all, it’s sad. The kids in your care could maybe use a little bright side to go with the news.
For those who are well, there have been some major cultural changes to reduce the spread of Ebola. People are no longer shaking hands when they meet, they’re washing their hands in buckets filled with chlorinated water in public places, and the dead are being cremated, rather than prepared for burial by their loved ones.
For kids, and even adults, all the talk about Ebola makes Liberia and the other countries suffering this outbreak seem one-dimensional. But, I heard an interview yesterday with a doctor who recently returned from Liberia and he could only gush about the warmth and dedication of the people he worked with there. It’s easy to forget that even as life is threatened, it also goes on in most ways.
In Monrovia, the largest city, there is a charming tradition of news sharing that has not only remained, but become a vital way of sharing news among all who pass by. It’s called The Daily Talk, and it’s simply a three part chalkboard with handwritten news written every day by Alfred Sirleaf and his helpers. He does it to spread news to those who can’t afford a newspaper. And for those who can’t afford a newspaper, and also can’t read, someone in the crowd will read it for them.
Here’s a video of The Daily Talk.
You can bring a little bit of the good of Liberia into your home or classroom by setting up a news board. You can use a chalkboard or dry erase board (maybe something like Wall Pops WPE0446 24-Inch by 36-Inch Peel and Stick Dry Erase Message Board Decal). Younger kids can draw a picture of their news and older kids can write an actual one or two-sentence story about something that happened today. If you start a routine in the younger years, you just might have a chance to learn a little more about your teenager’s day if they can write it rather than talk about it.
If you’d like to do something to help folks in West Africa fight Ebola, you can make a donation to Doctors Without Borders.
Kids need to know that there’s still a lot of good in a scary world.