The kids come from many different cultures, from various countries and from all different religious backgrounds. That‘s not always easy and frictions are pre-programmed. It is very interesting to work in such a group, but it also draws a lot of energy and is very tiring.
We are at the 'Kids Treff' in the Zurich suburb of Schwamendingen. Every Wednesday the MDT ’Hope for Zurich‘ gathers children ages 4 to 11 at the facilities of a local church for an afternoon of storytelling, teaching, play and fun.
It was one of these afternoons again and the teasing and fighting went so far, that it was becoming impossible for the staff to explain the rules of the next game. It would be wrong to assume that just kids hailing from other countries were causing unrest; the Swiss-born kids were just as bad...
We, the team, met in prayer, to ask the Lord to let us find new ideas to meet the challenge we were facing. Somebody came up with the idea to design a 'Kids Treff' t-shirt, to create an identity, a feeling of belonging. ˋKids Treff´ values would be communicated by wearing such a shirt. The shirts would be worn to all our meetings. Our idea was meditated on and finally dropped -- too many unsolved questions, especially to accommodate the requirements of different seasons. Instead, we adopted the idea to braid some nice, wide bracelets with a clasp to facilitate putting them on and removing them. The bracelets were to be worn only during our meetings. During the braiding, we were to teach them our ˋKids Treff´ values: Respect, Honesty, Fairness. In German the beginning letters spell REF (Respekt, Ehrlichkeit, Fairness). ‘Ref’ is in the German language the short form for referee. It’s a nice play on word, a word-play the kids understand!
A little, rather funny incidence happened on the day of braiding: Everybody was excited about this afternoon of braiding and each one in our team figured, the other one was doing the teaching. With great surprise it was discovered, that nobody had ever been braiding bracelets before... Consulting the internet, we found a simple instruction and together we learned how to do the craft — and how to teach it.
Although we had to ask somebody else to go out to the streets to invite children, we were ready in time to teach! Oh, yes there was something else: there was just no time to prepare a four o‘clock snack. But God had provided — why else would a mother have brought along a cake for the children, just today? Braiding bracelets was a full success! Everyone did their best and everyone had a good time.
And it worked! At our next few meetings the children were quiet and attentive! Nobody wanted to have to take off the bracelet and be excluded for bad behaviour. The games and activities could be explained, the afternoons became a success!
The bracelets made all the difference: Children coming from all over the world, from different backgrounds and from many religions melted into a one functioning, teachable group, tied together by a simple bracelet!