Saturday began with breakfast followed by a song offering from the Tanzanian and Kenyan ladies. Participants then broke off into small groups to reflect upon and discuss the previous day’s visits to Camp Hill Village and Newberry House.

Lumin Education Family Therapist, Stan Ferguson gave the first presentation for the day, with the theme of The Child in the Family. Stan opened his presentation with the statement that part of the prepared environment is the prepared person as we are in relation to the environment. Stan spoke about his involvement with the Lumin Bachman Lake Community School. The school hosts a majority of Hispanics. 90% of the families are economically challenged, 30% of which are below the poverty line. Out of 200 children, 160 are enrolled in the pregnancy to 3 years program. This school understands the urgency of education and awareness within the first years of life. The pregnancy to 3 years program focuses on starting young and involving parents. Parents are encouraged to enter a collaborative relationship with the school in raising the children. This has proven to have a positive effect on the support, investment and involvement that parents have with the school.  The Early for Us program focuses on parent knowledge, training and weekly home visits for around 90 minutes with the trained adult and parents. Challenges facing this community are poverty, lack of documentation for migrants in the community and the real concern of being deported and the uncertainties of the repercussions that this may have on children and families. Stan concluded his presentation with an emotional reading from his book ‘What Parent’s Need to know About Children.’ Leaving the participants to comprehend the importance of trying to be the best listener that we can be. By listening to someone’s story, we take on part of their story. By listening in earnest to the migrant families that Stan has worked with, he continues to strive to offer the best support and help to parents and teachers, enabling parents to be teachers for their children during the first years.

Before lunch, participants broke into their reading group to read, reflect upon and give insight to what they had read for the day.

Helen Mohan Elias started off her presentation, Conviction: Community Rooted in Education began with a prayer offering. Helen explained that after attending the 5th EsF assembly held in Hyderabad, India, the Hyderabad participants were moved to come together to find a way to make a difference in the minority community. She spoke of the orphanage that was adopted by the Telengana Minority Residential Educational Institutions Society. Helen described how when she first met the children they were in poor physical condition, with skin lesions, dirty clothing and dirty bodies. The day before the school opened, the children were all taken for hair cuts, bathed and provided with clean clothes and new shoes. In spite of the media attention, the children appeared starved for education and at once entered the environment and began to explore the material within the environment, completely oblivious to the media hype that was taking place. So absorbed were these children that they did not even appear to notice the teachers in the environment. Helen spoke of how challenging it was in the first month, with nobody willing to work with the children. The children would often come across as abusive, rude and violent, using abusive and foul language at first.  It became obvious that  although the children had received physical nourishment, they were sorely lacking in psychic nourishment. With perseverance, the teachers noticed that after a month, the children were ready to begin receiving presentations of the materials in the environment. Within two months of the school opening, the media once again wanted to showcase the school and show what a difference the school had made. Helen was initially concerned as the children had not been working with material for sufficient time and although she could clearly see the changes in each child, she was worried that these changes would not be satisfactory for the media. To her surprise, the officials were so shocked by the drastic changes that they witnessed in the children, at first  not believing that these were the same children. Having had such a huge change not only in appearance but in happiness and confidence too. Helen shared the action plan for minority residential schools, with the focus being on setting up an elementary environment and training teachers. Helen left us with the thought that often we mistake education for reading, writing and responding when in a group, forgetting that education is also about peace and building up a peaceful community.

Edwina Mulcahy gave a presentation focussing on the Ballymun Community book project. On volunteering for a literacy program, Edwina was left deeply shocked by what she saw in disadvantaged schools. Her observation was that on the disadvantaged side of the city, children had no access to authors or books in their school programs. On the other side of the city where the more advantaged where, these things were readily available. Edwina gave some background context to the Ballymun community, consisting of large counsel flats that people were at first keen to reside in but soon lost interest as they realized that there were no options available for them there. The residential area then deteriorated at a rapid pace, with children being lured into selling drugs at an early age. Edwina played a short video clip where the challenges that the underprivileged faced in the community were highlighted. Edwina started the book project, consisting of an anthology of children’s writings and illustrations. Every child was a part of the book project, contributing by writing or illustrating. The children received many educational benefits from the book project, some of which were being included, literacy development, leadership, generation of ideas and hidden talents being realized. On a more social level, the whole school was involved, including parents and guardians.  Possibilities of receiving third level education became a reality to these children for the first time. Edwina is incredibly proud of what the boys have achieved and delights in sharing their successes with the world.

Late afternoon, the work groups spent some time focussing on their selected topics whilst Nati Beltran gave an offering for a Non Violent Communication workshop that participants were given the opportunity to attend. The evening festivities then kicked off with a drumming workshop where much fun and rhythm was created. After enjoying dinner together, the assembly was closed for the evening.