Give a Smile

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By Arber Dumani, YES Albania, ‘12

Arber dancing with the children at the orphanage.

Arber dancing with the children at the orphanage.

During my year in the United States, I had the chance to have classes with children who are mentally challenged.  Spending time with them was one of the most amazing things I have e

ver done  in my life.  After I came back to Albania, I was thinking about doing a project with children like these, and my first thought was in my hometown, Elbasan.

I spoke with the principal of a local school for children with disabilities, and he was very excited about this project and said that I was very welcome to go there anytime, and we soon set a date.

The activity began around 10am, after a group of YES alumni from Tirana and Fier arrived to help out.  We met the principal of the school, who spoke with us about the history of the school and the students who have attend it.  It was really interesting to learn about the facts of the school and how hard, challenging, and fun it is to work with all these children.  Linda Bardha, ’11, and I spoke about the YES program and about our experience in the States working with children with special needs.

The alumni brought craft items like markers, colored pencils, and coloring books with them to give to the orphanage.

The alumni brought craft items like markers, colored pencils, and coloring books with them to give to the orphanage.

After the meeting, the principal showed us the classes of the schools and introduced to with all the children. Every alum enjoyed meeting with them.  They were so nice and lovely. We visited different classrooms spending time and playing with all the children.  You could tell the joy in their eyes, especially after we gave them all the school materials we had bought with us.

The children had prepared for us a little show!  In the school cafeteria, we enjoyed the show they did for us.  The most beautiful moment was when the children came to us and took all of us up to dance with them!  The moment was priceless!

We promised that we would come back, and when we left, we saw tears in some of the children’s eyes.  It was sad but also we felt good because in just three hours of our time, we could give them a big smile and create a big connection.