INTERVENTION BY KISWAHILI LUTHERAN MISSION AND
CHRIST LUTHERAN CHURCH AND INSPIRITUS (Nashville, TN)
The Pain and Chaos of Virtual Learning for Children in our Community
When the pandemic closed schools and colleges everywhere, it was the most painful thing for kids that had just moved from Africa as refugees. When schools announced to the parents and kids to go for computers, many of the refugee kids did not go for the computers at first. One, they had no single knowledge on how to operate the computers, secondly feared that the computers might break down and be forced to pay for them. When we (Christ Lutheran Church, and Kiswahili Lutheran Mission) realized that this is what was happening we took it to ourselves to visit this home, assure of our help and advocates for thirty four children from first to twelve grades. We approached Janet Arning with Inspiritus with the request to weave us into the Cares Grant for funding. The partnered with us to help make this happen.
The pandemic has made it clear to us that it takes a village to raise a child. As schools quickly transitioned to distance learning this year, parents and kids from this community were more confused and did not know where to start. Parents were in tears because they themselves do not have any knowledge of using the computer leave alone their kids.
While many of the American parents worked remotely and students learning online, they were able to quickly transforms their living space to a classroom, most of this families did not have an extra space to make a “classroom.”
Facing this an unfamiliar learning experience incited a lot of fear that manifests in different ways, including acting out, crying or being more aggressive than usual. Parents became more stressed than the students because they did not know what to do with their kids.
After talking to the students and their parents, they agreed to go and pick up the computers. Going for computers was one thing and learning from the scratch on how to use them was another thing all together. For weeks these kids did not attend the learning.
While teachers could not control or know whether kids show up to class tired, hungry, sleepy and so forth, we made sure that we bridge this gap. We held meetings with parents and the students to make sure that they create a conducive environment for kids to get enough sleep, waking up in the morning with enough time to eat breakfast and get dressed and that they were focused and ready to start distance learning. We started the students from scratch, showing them how to start a computer, how to login to schology, how to join classes, how to access homework, how to do and turn in the homework and so forth. This was not an easy task! There were a lot of chaos at the beginning but eventually they were able to pick up and run with it.
Because of lack of manpower we only managed to take about 10 families with a total of 34 students. We communicated with teachers that we were there helping the kids and they were amazing. We have witnessed a lot of progress.
Rev. Dr. Esther G Ngomuo
Here are some pictures of the students and the students in action!