Editor’s note: In these very, very weird times, stories such as the one below from The Washington Post are worth their weight in gold:
Her mother, Leigh, sat down with her daughter to discuss how other children missing school have worse home environments, such as not owning a laptop or having numerous family members living with them — and that they will also suffer. Leigh Benrahou asked Johara how she wanted to help.
Right away, Johara sat at her desk with colored pencils and created a flier for her reading sessions. She listed her address, that the sessions would occur Mondays and Wednesdays between 4 and 4:30 p.m., that masks would be required and that only five children were permitted to attend each session.
The next day, Benrahou drove Johara down their street. Johara searched for bikes or toys in front yards as an indication children lived there. When she saw some, she taped a flier on that family’s front door. The program is intended for children between 3 and 6 years old. She hopes to continue the sessions after the pandemic passes.
“When she found out that she wasn’t going to school, honestly it was like seeing a person for the first time experience desperation or grief or sadness,” Benrahou said. “We’ve all experienced it, but at 8 years old, these kids, the worst they’ve ever been told was you can’t have a toy, you can’t have a snack. At this age, they’re old enough to realize that this is a real loss for them and an impact on their lives.”
“My kid never wants to leave. He could listen to in-person stories forever,” Tammy Alvarado said. “But if you try and put him in front of a computer to do that story, forget it.”
Johara has always loved reading. She grew up enjoying bedtime stories, and she often reads books about famous women and minorities, such as American civil rights activist Ruby Bridges and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. One day, when Johara stayed home from school sick, she read four biographies.
She has also always thought of helping others. Instead of asking for gifts from friends for birthday parties, she asks if they can instead donate books. At her request, she and her mother have visited and donated food to homeless shelters.
“Kids naturally want to be kind, and that’s how we are as human beings,” Benrahou said. “We all get away from that because we get into our self-interest of working or what we need to do. Most kids, they want to help and they want to be helpful and they want to make people happy.”