September 2014

Three years ago, I had set my mind on volunteering and helping children in need. One thing led to another and my research led me to the JAME organisation, which seemed to fit perfectly with my vision of tutoring. My first meeting was really conclusive: I felt that my passion to help was really shared.

A few days later, I was already sitting next to 6-year-old Kevin. Despite his heartbreaking family background, uncontrollable hyperactivity, deleterious nutrition and heartbreaking poverty, I began to open my arsenal of books for him. I soon realised that he had no interest in any of them and that my task would be a daunting one. After some trial and error, he deigned to pay attention for a brief moment, out of the corner of his eye, to a picture book about firemen. It bit", he said. He bit", I thought. Gradually, Kevin began asking for books about detectives, trucks, planes and pirates. Within a few weeks, Kevin was able to read a few sentences to me.

This year, JAME gave me the responsibility of little Sayan. A Quebecer of Bangladeshi origin, Sayan spoke a difficult-to-understand "English". He hated school. Several times a week after school, I tried to get him to like letters and books, but without success. So I invented word and letter games for him: he loved them and asked for more. To counteract his very disruptive behaviour in class, I motivated him with sports at the weekend. A full week of exemplary school behaviour deserved a new sport. Week after week Sayan discovered skating, sliding, hockey, baseball, soccer, badminton, cycling, in-line skating and swimming. In the space of only 4 months, Sayan is much calmer, more attentive, more motivated, more autonomous and above all very proud to tell us: "I got zero mistakes today!

Having experienced academic difficulties myself at the critical age of 6, I feel privileged to be able to contribute to the development of children (and parents) with academic difficulties. I am very proud to work with JAME who has always been there to support me.

Patricia, Svetlana and Audrey: you are building a better child at a time. Many thanks.

Harry Kougioumoutzakis

Volunteer, JAME