I have lots of little traditions with the boys of St. Valentine’s. Most have sprung up organically – the kids once asked if I could make them dinner and now we look forward to our special meals (packed with extra veggies and protein!) on every trip. But some traditions are more intentional.
I’ve brought some early-reader books in the hopes of reading with the boys to assess where they’re at in school. When I bring out the books on our first night, the reaction is unexpected – they’re vying for the chance to go first, desperately grateful for the opportunity to learn. There is an unbelievable eagerness to read and it’s obvious they’re receiving little support.
Usually we watch cartoons projected on their wall in the evenings, but these boys only want to read for hours at a time. I’ve never seen such focus, determination and joy for learning, which they’ll need because they can barely string basic words together at this point. When I prepare to leave they all beg me to stay for just one more page and when I finally depart, I leave them gathered around the single book I’ve left, helping each other decipher the simple words on the page.
With the proper tutoring, their world will open up. I can’t even fathom how much potential these boys have – all they need is the chance to discover it. I’ve vowed to return every night and read with them before bed, no matter how tired I am.
If they’re willing to put in the time and effort, so am I. — Treana Peake, Founder, Obakki Foundation
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