What’s it like to be a kid in Benin? Well it’s a lot different than in the United States. First of all, kids here do a lot of chores and errands for adults. They sweep the house and courtyard, they burn the garbage, they wash the dishes, do the laundry (by hand!), and run errands for any adult who asks them. I could go up to a kid and tell them to carry something for me and they would do it without payment. It’s what kids are for here.
Here is Lokossa, most kids go to school. They have summer vacation in July and August. When school starts, it is the students who come and clean the school. Again they sweep all the classrooms, clean the blackboards, and pull out all the grass on the yards. No one wants too much grass because it can attract snakes and scoripions. To go to public school here, families have to pay a fee and buy all the school supplies. There are no books in the classroom and there are between 50 and 70 kids in your class. If you misbehave at school, the teacher or principal can hit you as punishment. Some teachers keep a stick in their classrooms for that.
If you can’t pay the school fee, the principal will kick you out of school and send you home. So if you are from a poor family it can be difficult to go to school. In some parts of Benin, very few girls go to school or finish school. There is a volunteer who only has 8 girls in the high school she is going to teach in and there are over 600 students altogether!
It is in school that most kids learn to speak French. At home they probably speak a local language like Fon, Yoruba, or Bariba. The community I will live in speaks mostly Fon.
Kids like to have fun here too!!!! They love soccer (but call it football) and you can see them playing soccer all the time. My two year old host sister likes to send her day digging in the dirt and playing house with her baby dolls. I’ve even seen kids playing hoop and stick with an old tire and stick! Life is different here, but all kids like to have fun!