Thursday, May 26, 2011

No fear - in new beginnings...

I am sure that all of us have a certain amount of fear, trepidation or apprehensiveness when starting something new.  It could be because we have no idea what it's going to be-sorta of a fear of the unknown-Or it could be it is something that seems way above our heads, out of our comfort zone or that we are not trained for.  For me this 'feeling' is like the first day of Jr. High ( grade 8)-you have more than one teacher, whole new groups of people-that you may not know or 'fit' with;  Not to mention you are 13-the epitome of awkward-well, I sure was!

Now let's contextualize this to Liberia and our CLP program.  Recently, our CLP team headed by Joni and her coordinator Andrew started to roll out the CLP program in a village called Jawahjay.  What does this mean?  It means Andrew meets with the community leaders and the women who are interested in registering in the program.  To decide what level they are at-Andrew administers a very simple test-he will say a letter or number and they have to write it down.  They are asked to try and read simple words or draw a picture of something like a house.  From this Andrew and Joni can see what level the women are and what class they will be put into-'beginner' or 'intermediate'.

For many of these women it is the first time they have tried writing letters or numbers-many don't even know what they are.  Here are some examples of the test results...

Miatta would be put into a beginners class.
Joni holding two other tests written by women ranging from 30 years old- 50.
Massa may be able to enter the intermediate class.

As you can see from these test results, these women are in need of CLP!!! When I first saw the tests it reminded me of when Isaac and Felix first learned to hold a pencil and draw when they were just 2-3 years old.  However, these drawings and attempts at writing have been done by women in their late twenties, thirties and into their fifties!  These women are starting something new-something they have never done before-and I have no doubt that yes, they are excited but also maybe a little nervous of the 'unkown'.

But-they are going to do it!  Both the beginners class and intermediate classes started this past week.

Excited new CLP student! 

Part of starting something new is putting your pride aside so you can be receptive to learn.  These women are brave and not afraid to admit that they do not know how to write or read their own name.  Excitement and eagerness replaces fear and although I am sure they are still unaware  of the 'unknown' -they are taking the steps to face that unknown with confidence.

I equate this to the same feeling I have before starting to train for another race.  I am unsure-yet excited, apprehensive-yet thankful for another opportunity-but, unlike these women-I can be fearful-"what if I am not fully recovered and injure myself?", "what if I don't reach my goal again?".  This feeling transcends running-it could be the start of a new job, moving to a new country or town, or when you are about to become a new parent...

I hope in those moments of fear that I (and you) can think on this instead- In Jawahjay, a village in Liberia-there are women starting CLP classes-learning new skills which will give them the opportunity to step into other 'new beginnings' without any fear...
There is still time to give if you would like!

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