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City of Banjul
Monday, August 8, 2022

The window to your soul

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With Aicha The eyes are the window to your soul. Are you familiar with that saying? I remember when I gave birth to my third and last child, a baby girl born three weeks too early. I looked into her eyes and said to myself that she has an old soul. With an old soul I mean that this newborn baby already had so much wisdom, like an old person who had gone through life and learned a lot. My daughter is now 23 and she has never disappointed me. The problem others have with their teenage girls was nothing we experienced. She is not meek, no, she is as stubborn as I am, but she doesn’t have any urge to fuss about things. We get along very well, speak about deep things in life as well as giggle at the same jokes. My daughter graduated as a nurse this past summer and is working at a large hospital. In her ward they nurse the smallest babies you can imagine, some of them only weigh about 1.5kg when they are born. The babies are vulnerable and need extra care, but the parents must not be forgotten. Some of them are in shock, others are upset or even angry because nothing is as it was supposed to be. The expecting parents were not prepared for an early delivery, they were afraid that the baby might not survive. Working as a nurse in a ward like that requires some extra qualifications, a degree is not enough. The nurse has to take care of the whole family at the same time as she is giving the baby a special care. The nurse must be able to remain calm in a sometimes stressful situation. She must be able to comfort the baby as well as the mother. The baby might have some siblings who mustn’t be neglected – that is also the duty of the nurse. In this ward it is not only a matter of health care, the soul is an important part of the healing process and for that it requires maturity. Not all nurses are fit for that job so I am extra proud of my daughter because she is one of the chosen even though her young age. It is a privilege to have found a mission for one’s life; to feel that one can make a change and an impact on people. I am lucky enough to have two professions in music – church musician and music teacher – but I find that being a teacher is my passion. I am a head teacher together with a male teacher whose name is Jim. We are head teachers for 8 C, a large class with 25 kids who are around 14 years old. Both Jim and I are new teachers at this school so we are by that new head teachers for this class. Before we began to work there, both of us heard that there had been a lot of problems with the class. There had been a lot of conflicts between the kids and the former head teachers, so the headmaster decided to replace those two from his staff. One of them, the former music teacher got a new job, and the other is head teacher for another class. Jim and I had decided, without consulting each other, that this class is going to be our challenge. He began working at this school in August and I at the end of September. When I met the class for the first time I smiled at them, told them a little about myself and said that I looked forward to get to know them better. I could see in their faces that they were surprised to hear my words, they were used to be yelled at more than praised. Now we are at the beginning of December and every time Jim and I meet “our” kids, we meet their smiling eyes. Of course there can be trouble from time to time, but we deal with them immediately and solve them together. It is a privilege to meet the kids in the corridor or in the classroom, speak to them, look them in the eye and see that they like us and trust us. Being a teenager is not easy, they are somewhere between being kids and adults. This is why it is so important to be surrounded by good role models who are not only there to correct them but also to speak with them and teach them about life. One of the girls in “my” class, 8 C, behaves more like a boy than a girl. She is always dressed in trousers and a T-shirt , never anything feminine. When she walks, it looks more like a boy who is walking and her language could make a sailor blush. Some people get appalled by her way but that is because they can’t see behind her mask. This girl is a survivor, a refugee who has seen more of life than anyone wishes to see. Behind her mask she is different, she is vulnerable. I was so angry with her one day. She and a boy from the same class had got complaints because of their behaviour. I was so fed up with these complaints, there had been too many of that sort these last weeks. I went to search for the pair and when I found them I told them to go in to my classroom. I was so angry and disappointed with them, it felt like we were taking one step forward and two steps back. I know that they can behave well, they are good kids, but they seem to live in their own little bubble – as most teenagers. I know that their brains are still not fully developed, but if adults don’t tell kids to stop fooling around they will not understand that their behaviour is wrong. People learn from their mistakes (hopefully) and we must always consider that kids are not adults, but even so we can’t let them do all what they want. Kids are always testing the rules, that is normal, but some kids test the same rules over and over again and don’t seem to learn from their mistakes. I am glad that I have built up a good and stable relation between with the pupils in my class, because then I can get really mad with them sometimes without destroying anything. I admit that I was yelling for a while, but when I calmed down and we were able to speak about the issues, we ended our discussion as friends. I think it is sometimes necessary to tear things down to be able to build them up again, it is the same with relations. Clearing the air by showing your true emotions can be healthy sometimes, but that method has to be used carefully. It can’t be done with anyone just like that, there must be love as a foundation to that relation. My kids, no matter if it is my biological kids or those I call mine, can see in my eyes what I feel. I am honest with my feelings, my kids know that if I’m happy with them I will praise them, but if they misbehave they will hear it immediately. They don’t have to fear that I say one thing and mean something else, I don’t believe in being false in a relation. After the heated discussion I had with my pupils I hugged them and asked if they understood why I was so angry and disappointed – and, Alhamdulillah, they did. They looked me in the eye, and even if we all had tears in our eyes we were happy that we had this relation where we can be angry with each other and still be friends. I have met these kids after the discussion and they smile at me and greet me. When I think back on my own years in school I can’t remember any teacher that felt like s/he was human. They hid behind a mask, no expression in the eyes except discontentment. Children read the body language first of all, especially before they have developed their own language. If children are met by adults with a stiff, completely controlled body language and cold eyes they feel doubtful, the kids don’t know if they can approach the adult and get confirmed. It is like trying to get warmth from a large chunk of ice. Many adults believe that they have to be in a certain way to be able to make an impact on kids, but what we need to do is to be our true selves. We don’t need to speak in a certain way, neither strict or childish, we need to be true and for that kids love and respect us. Look the kids in the eye, show your true emotions and suddenly you will feel the connection between you both. Kids are closer to God, it hasn’t been so long since they were sent to us and if we are willing to listen to them we will learn a lot about how to be a true human being. The Bible tells us that if we want to come to heaven, to Jannah, we must be like children. By that it doesn’t mean that we must act in a childish way, no, it is a matter or having a pure heart. If we listen to the words of God, not coloured by prejudice, we are able to implement the words in our lives and let them sink in to our souls. Only then we can live a pious life, a life where we treat each other the same way as we wish to be treated. I began to speak about the eyes and I will end this column in the same way. The creation is more amazing and complicated than we first might think. The more we learn about the creation, the more we must understand that we haven’t been created as we are by coincidence. There are no human engineers who are able to create something that is even close to what God has created. Those of you who have any kind of education in the health care area have learned how complicated our bodily functions are and how precise and excellent they work together to make us see the world around us, hear birds singing or the voice of a loved one. We can move, touch, digest, breathe without being focused on every little movement of the body. Our eyes are connected to our brains so what we see is interpreted by the brain. All our senses are connected to each other, when we see something beautiful we can remember a sound connected to that image, the sound is connected to a smell and the smell is connected to a taste. All these senses work together and it goes so fast so we don’t have to make any effort at all, in the split of a second we have a clear image of a memory. Isn’t it amazing? Are we able to see and appreciate what we have around as a cherished gift? When God is watching us, is He satisfied with what He sees? We have got the whole creation as a gift, to care for, to love and to maintain so the coming generations can enjoy the same as we have. Look at each other as companions, look at the creation as a gift. Remember that we are all a part of God’s creation, when you receive a valuable gift from someone you treat it with care. Why can’t we look at the creation in the same way?]]>

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