I’d like to talk about our staff at Play Kenya and Rafiki Mwema.
Where do I begin? We ask SO much of them, not because we are tough employers, at least I don’t think we are, but we ask them to change their thinking so much. Not all our staff come from safe and gentle childhoods that may equip them to work along side abused girls and violated boys, who only have complex behaviour to get their needs met.
Many of their childhoods may mirror the very children they are working with. You may say thats an advantage as they will understand where the child is coming from, and maybe in some cases that might work. But very often, when we have shared negative experiences, the behaviours shown by the child releases a stored, often unconscious, reaction that is neither helpful nor therapeutic.
So how come we have amazing staff? They are open and engaged in understanding their own stories and looking at areas that trigger their own complex feelings; they attend training; they have reflective sessions; they learn that this can’t be a job but it can be a calling. Walking day in and day out with trauma is tough, very tough, and we often say that trauma sticks to the wall and it gets in our clothing, skin and soul if we are not careful.
So we need an antidote to trauma and that is connection. Connection to ourselves, our story and to others. An open mind to understand therapeutic parenting, to really GET that correction can’t change our children but connection can. To be brave enough to use a Playful, Accepting, Curious and Empathic approach from your soul and not from a script.
Our staff are amazing but not all of them are the finished article. I believe it takes years to truly use, embrace and believe in our approach. I was reminded by one of the boys whose life has been injected with violence and pain where love and kindness should have been, that when you have experienced trauma your ability to learn is changed, so we need to find another way of teaching.
I’m practising that with our staff. Some will fly and some may not, but I know that without this DDP (Dyadic Developmental Practice) model our children would not be flourishing and looking towards brighter futures, our staff would not feel the love that shines in the houses and I wouldn’t sleep at night!
We’re in it together and that’s connection