We bumped into Farhana, an 11-year-old as she was skateboarding in her neighbourhood. A week ago, a family we knew had introduced her to us incidentally and she nodded nonchalantly as we caught her eye. Farhana is the oldest of 5 siblings and cared for by her grandmother when dad is at work.
When we got within speaking distance, we asked her for a minute of her time. We told her that we had a lot of toys and school bags which we thought children in her neighbourhood would appreciate. However, we did not know many families living there and wondered if she could introduce us to her friends. “Sure!” she replied quickly and enquired when will we be bringing them.
When we arrived a few days later with a van full of the items, Farhana and her siblings were ready to assist. They led us to different households and as she did so, she shared snippets of how she got to know them. “Oh, he is a classmate,” or “I saw her skateboarding and decided to make friends with her when she smiled at me.” Farhana did not always remember everyone’s names but she knew where they lived, the games they played or the activities they enjoyed when they were hanging out in the neighbourhood. They were her network of friends and a huge reason why she calls the neighbourhood home.
It was a productive and meaningful day of work for us as we got to have conversations with many families that we had never spoken with. Tired and happy, we thanked Farhana for helping us and she replied with a bright smile, “It was fun! If you ever need help again, can call me.”
“You are our first community volunteer!” we told her, and this episode showed us that children can be powerful connectors that bring people in a community together. Their routines, the places where they play, and their relationships make for an important slice of life in the community that is valuable for its larger good.
Wishing you health and peace of mind.
Children are true connoisseurs. What’s precious to them has no price, only value. – Bel Kaufman