My recycling workshops with the children

From a very early age, I learnt from my mother how to embroider and knit wool. I also like working with children and since 2015, I have been working in a youth center in Naciria, a neighborhood of a small town in Algeria. The center is used by youths and children from modest families from the neighborhood, but also from the  nearby mountain villages. The latter group together in threes or fours to come in.

At this center I found a reliable team consisting of the manageress, Nassima, very motivated and trusting, and  Hakima, a lady who gives French lessons to the children. I started by proposing video games and developed over time a friendship and closeness with the children. The manageress and my supervisor Mrs. Hayat strongly encouraged me to create other activities. I chose a “creative recycling workshop” which appeals to my taste for manual work.

In 2016 I formed a group of 15 children aged eight to thirteen. We work on themes connected to the environment. It is often the children who choose them. The workshop takes place in two phases: the first consists of understanding and discovering the theme, and the second is the manual work. For instance, we learnt how fish live, then we made a fish using recycled materials (cardboard, corks, etc). I also suggested a workshop to learn to tell the time since I discovered that several of the children could not, then together we made a watch from recycled materials. These workshops offer a place where the children can discover themselves and
also the world they live in.

One day a mentally handicapped boy came to the group. I took the time to show him the various objects we had made. His mother confided in me afterwards that he  looked forward to these sessions which was not the case for school, where he did not fit in. Later on, I was able to train several coordinators who work in other youth centers, and even a neighbor who was in a difficult situation and looking for work. Now she is making and selling decorative objects.

Sirine, seven years of age, takes part in the workshops. She says “I learnt with my trainer Bahia to cut out  leaves, and to draw. I learnt about animals. She teaches us very gently. I like my trainer.

Bahia. L, Centre Naciria, Algeria