Warm wishes for the New Year from everyone at SOFKIN!
As we noted in our recent New Year’s greeting, the children of SOFKIN had a wonderful Christmas celebration. A particular highlight was preparing and distributing food to people on the street. In sharing their experiences of this activity, one girl said that she gave her food packet to a man lying in the street and he was unable to get up, but “The smile he gave back to me, I will never forget.” Another boy gave his packet to a man who then came back for a second one. When the boy said he had already given him food, the man replied, “Yes, but I gave that to my daughter. I, too, am hungry.”
This experience was so memorable, in fact that the children volunteered to continue doing it on a monthly basis. They have agreed to fast for the noon meal on every 3rd Sunday and use the savings to purchase, prepare and distribute food to people on the street. “This is a reminder of where they came from – poor and hungry,” Chaya explained. “At the same time, they respect and appreciate what they have today and are grateful to be able to give back.”
The annual election process for group leaders also began in December. Group leaders play a very important role in self-governance at SOFKIN. Their responsibilities include overseeing the school homework of their group members and observing how they are doing at school; helping to maintain standards of hygiene and cleanliness; supporting good eating habits and manners; and helping ensure that group members are keeping to the daily schedule and following through on their responsibilities.
The election process begins with interested people submitting their nominations to Chaya. The nominees then prepare a speech about their vision and what they will do if elected and deliver their speeches to Chaya in a live Skype meeting. Based on the speeches, Chaya selects the candidates who will stand for election. Then the nominated candidates give their speeches to the rest of the children explaining why they think they deserve the position and requesting their vote. Balloting then takes place, where each child votes for two group leaders. Chaya distributes the group members and announces the results in a second live Skype meeting and then those that have been elected take their oaths and take on the responsibility as a group leader. The group leaders email a report to Chaya every Friday and discuss the action items on Saturday in the weekly Skype meeting.
At its heart, the group leader process is about the personal and leadership development of the young people at SOFKIN. It stresses the responsibility each person has to his/herself, as well as fellow members of the SOFKIN community.