I was conversing with my brother not too long ago and, quite naturally, the children and the Grannies of The Granny Cloud crept into it. He has been following the tales https://grannycloudtales.wordpress.com/ and enjoying them. Hopefully that is coming from more than just being a fond brother! In fact, he is the one that got me started off in terms of penning these stories and we have talked occasionally of weaving them into a book. This time, he brought up a really valid concern. He said it ALL sounded wonderful – children that are happy – children that are learning – children becoming self-confident – Grannies with a sense of purpose adding meaning and fulfilment to their lives. Was it really that simple? That easy? Did it all ‘just’ happen?
Of course not! Behind every single ‘success’ – whether it is a successful session, a child who has achieved something they have been striving towards, a lab that functions one more year – month – even day, a Granny who continues to interact with children in many different locations for yet another year, there is a struggle. And it is a big struggle.
It is a fight we give every single day to the technological challenges – of missing audio or visual (sometimes both!), of fluctuating bandwidth that sometimes disappear completely, of limited (sometimes just one!) computers that a host of children ALL want to use… It has meant functioning in locations that don’t have spacious, well-lit and ventilated, specially designed Labs, of interacting with children who start with next to nothing in terms of computer or search skills or even language skills for that matter. (Forget English, I am talking local languages!). It has meant connecting despite weather conditions keeping children from the labs or of home conditions and chores that prevent them from coming, of working alongside coordinators who brought with them little other than the desire to connect. It has meant accepting Grannies having to drop out because of health or family reasons, and communities & school authorities that did not believe it made any sense and at best indulged the children ‘playing games’. It has meant sleepless nights wondering how far we would be able to carry this entirely voluntary effort with no funding, of hours spent waiting for connections to take place, of hours and days mutually supporting in as many ways as we could think of – every member of the team to ensure that the real purpose and essence of the SOLE approach remained undiluted while it took on many different forms. And more….
But that is not our take away….
Not even on days when we have to halt a session for any aspect of the reasons above or the way they pan out on a particular day. Not even when our latest initiative comes under threat because of a major setback and we have to put off the pilot.
What we take away is the memory of a fleeting connection with a smile from the children thrown in as a bonus. What we take away is the effort of a coordinator creating a hotspot with their phone data plan when the regular internet is down. We take away the memory of coordinator running Granny sessions on their tiny mobile phones. What we take away is the involvement of the young girl arriving with her infant brother so she doesn’t have to miss a session. What we take away are ideas shared by other Grannies to help us keep up an ongoing interaction even if it is asynchronous.
What we take away is the laughter of a shared joke, of the thrill we feel when one of our young ones picks up a new word, a new skill. We take away the pride we feel when the children [now grown] reconnect to share how their lives are going. What we take away is the sense of camaraderie with the Granny team, the pleasure in having learned something new ourselves.
What we take away is the replenished energy and enthusiasm we feel when half-dressed and sometimes sleepy eyed we turn on our computers not knowing what’s in store for that day. And so – yes, it will continue to sound wonderful. Our tales will continue to mask the moments of frustration, of fatigue, of doubt, of feeling beaten by circumstances. For what we take away is the joy in having done our little bit. Because at the end of it all, what we take away, despite every struggle, is the realisation that we make a difference…