14-16 children, branded shoes and loud music, houses with leaky flanks,
massive excitement for some of the games, heads buried in colouring books,
community centre declared to life-threatening, sudden hugging and fighting,
cycling ad smoking, piercing ears and fighting for a spot at the foosball, selfies and TikTok.
I’m Réka, I visited Litke for the first time with 5 other volunteers. This blog post is about my personal experience of this short weekend, about the atmosphere of the village and what it was like to meet these children for the first time.
The weather forecast hadn’t been so reassuring, cold and rainy for the whole weekend. Yet, the journey to Litke was pleasant, with full of delightful conversations and games, the six volunteers- Attila, Bea, Bálint, Orsi, Marci and me- were sitting in the minibus full of equipment and food. It was already getting dark (after several “are we there now?” questions) by the time we got there. When we stopped, a child’s curious face showed up in the window screen, but as soon as he recognised the people sitting in the car, he cheered up. We spent the evening with planning for Saturday, making dinner and catching up. Those who wanted to relax stayed around the table and were playing.
Saturday. Comfortable breakfast, fresh weather, and in front of the community centre, Bandi with the children. High fives, introductions, ninja in the yard, and name-learning games in one of the smaller rooms (where the foosball was also very popular). Mandala painting mandala, the main program, went surprisingly well, and meanwhile it was a great opportunity to start a conversation in small groups. The younger ones, intensely painting, were open to talk to the volunteers about themselves and their interests, their goals. The older ones, opened up as well, in front of Bálint’s camera, as part of an interview. A lot of things were revealed: favourite colours, what kind of sweets the cool older guys spend their wages on, where they go for a class trip. It was hard to say stop to the creative handcrafting, but it was time for lunch. Lunch break gave us the energy, so we could play a bunch of new games. Their favourites were the “ipiapacs” and the “ottery game” and luckily, the sun was shining, so we could go to the yard and try more, such as “the killer game”, “cow-corral”, and the “conductor.” Meanwhile, exciting things were happening, like rushing into the door, and a spontaneous, random ear-piercing and sunbathing on the grass. Because at the official end time the children didn’t want to go home, we stayed there a little bit longer (table football-match, braid-making, Tik-Tok and talking in the armchair), and we promised to meet them at the football field later. The volunteers eventually got home, had a breather, and discussed the events of the day. Then the boy-girl division happened, as Attila and the boys decided to defende their Ronaldoian honour, and us girls began to prepare for dinner. Later, with a full stomach, we were discussing Sunday’s programme, and for the, “lyrics-rewriting” activity, we listened to all of the children’s favourite tunes (so I could widen my knowledge on trashy songs). We closed that day with Imagine, and we really could have recorded some of its episodes for future generations.
Sunday. An early visitor at the breakfast table. Maneuvering the remained snacks and tools, arriving to the garden next to the community center armed with the pre-written lyrics and speakers. The initial games included the party of the ‘secret conductor’, where one of the local boys helped us out with his huge speaker. Big and small children began to dance and outvoicing one another. After, we split into two according to the two local hits (Teswér: Feledem (I forget); Márió: Félek (I am scared) and started a discussion about the issues the lyrics touched upon with the older ones. Meanwhile the youngers were explaining what they liked in the songs. Those who got the hang of the ‘secret conductor’ party began to create a new choreography for the song Félek with the Marci’s guidance, while the others transformed the song into a ‘funnier’ version by re-writing its lyrics. A couple of visitors also came around in the sun and after a while, spontaneous circles of people chatting and playing emerged. However, perceived or not, saying goodbye eventually arrived. It was cool that we managed to get the gang together for a short, reflection-like exercise led by Bea within the frame of which we positioned ourselves in the scales of “How did I like the weekend?”, “What enriching experience I gained?” and “How much I feel like going home?”. The crafts and artworks created during these one and a half days were collected and only the group picture and many-many hugs were left before the children all headed home. Us, volunteers were packing and cleaning for a while then slowly got on our way as well, with pleasant fatigue, discussing our individual experiences about the visit.