Many "housekeeping" (literally in this case) things turn into whole-day events when you are doing them with over 40 kids. And fire is usually involved when it's in Africa. A few weeks ago there was a gigantic cleaning out of the boys dorm and then a week later, of the girls dorm. It's actually more like a room inspection or "locker check" type thing and then everything that should or doesn't need to be in the kids' possession (as determined by the staff) gets thrown into a blazing fire bin. The boys seem to handle this fine, but the last time the girls dorm was "cleaned out" (monitored by Victor and TJ) it resulted in a lot of tears and hysteria (from the girls, not from Victor and TJ). So this time the staff was determined to have a spring cleaning that was nice and peaceful (and the boys were there to watch in case it wasn't).
Clearing everything out of the (temporary) girls dorm.
Virginia, Nolita, Tercia and Regina trying to sort through their stuff before Victor comes to see what items need to be thrown in the blazing fire bin.
Some of the boys watched from the doorway of their dorm.
Canito and Samito.
The wiser ones watched from a distance.
Francisco, Manuel, and Yohani.
And the wisest ones just went to the other side of the property and stayed under the mango trees by the well until the whole thing was over.
Belson, Merecido, TJ, Celso, Little Victor, Jose, Jordão, Gil, and Jeremias.
The blazing fire bin burned the entire day.
There is no trash collection or disposal system here so you have to burn everything (yourself). This really means everything - like plastic tubs, suitcases, batteries - everything. (I'm sure you can imagine how good it smells and how long the aroma of plastic (and other things that should never be burned) lingers after the fire is put out! But the smell reminds me of traveling in other parts of the world so it always gives me good memories.)
The whole day went well and the girls were able to part with the things they "didn't need" and even appreciated being able to go back into a fresh and clean dorm at the end of the day. It is sometimes really entertaining to watch Victor and the other guys on staff handling the teenage girls when they act like American teenage girls. But it's a good thing that the kids are in an environment where they are comfortable enough to be themselves when they are happy and also when they are frustrated. And ideally you want every experience to be a learning experience. During the last cleaning out several of the girls had huge melt-downs when stuff they were not supposed to have got taken away. Afterwards there were a lot of meetings and discussions over how the whole thing went and this time everyone was more prepared and had good attitudes about the cleaning day. And our kids are really, really great. Even cleaning is fun with them and certain kids always bring energy and laughter to the most seemingly un-fun situations!