Each day as we move through the motions of life our small girls on Doyle Farm are doing the same. They wake up, get ready and head off into the safe haven we have created to live life as children should. Being cared for in a supportive and loving environment is a key part of their healing journey. Like all children they thrive on routine and take great pride in the successes of each day.
Healing through play
For our small girls there is a strong focus on play. While interacting with each other, learning new skills and having a good time there is also important healing happening. In line with Rafiki Mwema’s approach of therapeutic parenting the Aunties are continually providing the girls with safety and love through every moment. This may come through casual conversation, a hug when a girl becomes upset or creating a safe space to talk or calm down if they become overwhelmed. As a result of the trauma they have experienced the behaviours of our children can be erratic, but we are always there for them in a calm way ready to listen, hear them and allow them to do what they need.
Here we share with you what an average day on Doyle Farm is like for our small girls.
The morning routine
Weekdays start at 5:30am for our bigger girls who undertake their schooling off site. Our Aunties will help them get up to start the day. They shower, dress in their school uniforms and take their morning tea before being taken to school at 6am. Those that study at the Rafiki Jasiri School are woken at 7am to go through the same process before being taken to school by their teachers at 7:45am.
A normal day for the small girls who don’t yet attend school is similar. We like to keep the routine familiar and prepare them for the years ahead. The Aunties will wake the girls, get them to shower and then have breakfast. From there it’s straight to the mats to play with toys while others choose to watch cartoons before heading outside to enjoy the morning sun.
Time to play
When they are outside the house, our little ones engage in different types of play. Some play with mud and some play a game called Caty. Others like to get more active and play with balls or run around to move their body. Some of our small girls prefer to just sit and observe others playing while enjoying the heat of the morning sun.
The small girls are very funny at this time of the day. Full of energy they jump, laugh and make loud noises of morning joy. Sometimes they decide to crowd into the office to find out their birth dates and whose birthday comes first.
As the day progresses they take their snacks and continue with free play. Many girls love football and they assemble in front of their house to play a match.
At around noon, they enjoy bike riding. Most of the girls can now ride on their own and have become perfect cyclists. Laughter can be heard across the entire compound as staff and other children play a game of praising some of the riders for learning to ride the bike faster than others.
The small girls really enjoy their lunch, especially when it is chapatis and stew. When lunchtime is announced they run to wash their hands before assembling at the round table for the meal prayers. It is then time to start eating. Often they enjoy the meals so much that they ask for more and more until they become full! The youngest girls eat in the company of others and they feel they are also big.
Once everyone has had enough lunch, there is more running, playing and riding bikes – they have lots of energy! Our youngest small girls use this time to take a short nap.
Amongst their daily routine and play, our small girls have allocated therapeutic sessions with their key worker. This is a set time in which they play for at least 30 minutes under the guidance and supervision of the key worker who will encourage the child to reflect on what has happened but not do so in a way that induces shame. They will also help the child to learn to how to ask for help, an amazingly difficult and scary prospect for a traumatised child.
The session room is located within the Rafiki Jasiri School.
The end of a busy day
At around 4 pm, our small girls finish their free play. They have a hot shower, change into clean clothes and assemble in their living room. Some will play draughts or cards and others will play with toys while some choose to watch some television. A popular evening activity is story telling with the Aunties and sharing with them the adventures of the day.
Our small girls then take their supper and retire to bed.
If you would like to support our beautiful and busy small girls, we offer many ways to get involved. From donating to sponsorship we offer a suitable option for everyone. We’d love to have you join the Rafiki Mwema family x