Mahir and Safi ( Names changed ) are clearly very keen to learn English. They will show an object and ask – “This ?” Peter, my husband, has spent time working with Mahir and Safi on name recognition and using a laminated write-on wipe-off sheet helped them to recognise and start to produce their names in the English written from. We were able to tell them the meaning of their names, Mahir means skilled and Safi – Means Best Friend. Both boys were pleased with what their names meant .
We looked at numbers using English vocabulary and wrote numerals down in an organised way to aid the remembering of the numbers. At the end of the session the boys politely intimated that they would like to take the sheet to continue the work.
The experience of meeting the family – at the end of what has clearly been a very traumatic 90 days of travelling must, in itself have been a challenge. Our home and ways are clearly in great contrast to those that they have been used to. By listening carefully we have trying to make sense of their origins. It is evident that the young men have experienced considerable trauma. Mahir showed me Taliban on the internet and stated bad. He acted out shooting and communicated that they came into houses.
For now though, we need to live in the moment and keep the three boys healthy, safe and occupied. We need to establish routines and boundaries which build mutual respect.
Our Supervising Social Worker did suggest that this is probably a honeymoon period that we are experiencing. All three boys are very keen to help eg clear away after meals. They even cleared the leaves etc from the back garden. This is a busy – but pleasant household.
Mahir, Safi and John know that they are not to access the bedrooms of others in the house. Bedtime boundaries have been wholly upheld. Safi is extremely respectful an example of this is that he always waits for me to walk ahead of him eg through a doorway. In a shop Mahir will take the basket from me to carry himself.
I suspect from the reaction of our Supervising Social Worker that the emergency placement of the two boys from Afghanistan, so soon after John’s arrival, was not discussed with him.
This is a busy – but pleasant household. Spending time with all three boys, keeping them out and about and very active, has been a pleasure. We even went to a local Lebanese Halal restaurant and followed this with a visit to the Halal Supermarket. We see this as a great experience for us all to learn from each other and to share and embrace different experiences and culture.
There have been lots of opportunities to build trust through lots of eye contact and positive reinforcement of the efforts that they have made. Hopefully this will continue – though we are very aware – from our training that this could be a honeymoon period. The next few weeks could see considerable change. We have established routines and ground rules that are non-negotiable as we feel that in any situation knowing where you stand gives you a real sense of security. It certainly gives us confidence to know that we have a routine and a plan…… even if this is physically very demanding, not least because of the language barrier .
The look of amazement on Mahir and Safi’s face when John, the other foster child in placement interacts with carers is amazing. The placement of three teenage boys within such a short space of time may have been an error at the start, but it appears to be working to everyone’s benefit at the moment. Long may that continue.
Jayne Robbins (alias) – A Blogging Foster Carer.