Anita Dohn, MD, MSc
Michael N. Dohn, MD, MSc
Anita & Michael Dohn are physicians who are serving as missionaries with SAMS (Society of Anglican Missionaries & Senders).
Anita is a Family Practitioner.
Michael is an Internist.
"Bible story, handicrafts, and a sandwich"
We first met with about 12 children in a patio along the street pictured below. We would go there immediately after work on Tuesdays. We read a story from an illustrated Spanish children's Bible, did a handicraft related to the story, and gave each child a sandwich and a drink.
Children in this neighborhood loved the illustrated children's Bible. Books are expensive and even their churches did not have Bibles like this one. After reading the story, the older children would pass the Bible around, looking at the pictures and identifying characters and stories.
Handicrafts ~ Over the years, the crafts ranged from coloring pages to gifts for Mom to making puppets to constructing Christmas baskets to origami. One of the more fun crafts was coloring little cut-outs of Joseph (in his coat of many colors ) and his brothers, and also constructing little wells into which the brothers could toss Joseph. The children loved that craft, but the group got some strange looks from people passing by on the street when they heard all these children shouting: "Help me! I'm stuck in a well", "Please, please, don't do it!" and the most popular "AGGHHH!" as Joseph was plunged over the edge. That was a rowdy craft day.
As far as doing origami with children, try explaining in Spanish and showing small children how to make all those folds. Fortunately, as the group grew, we always had older children who helped the younger ones.
The price of success ~ Additional neighborhood children rapidly swelled the numbers in attendance. Within a few months, we regularly had from 100 to 120 children each week, as well as a collection of mothers and infants who came for the fun. The larger group had several effects.
First, we were too big for the space. The patio appears in the picture below; imagine 120 children and dozen adults all trying to listen to a Bible study and do a craft on that patio. The numbers meant that we had overflow in the street. This was the main road in this neighborhood and traffic included very fast motorcycles as well as large trucks.
Second, craft materials and food for 120 weekly was getting expensive. We had a patron after we got started (those funds lasted about 18 months) and occasionally others who knew what we were doing contributed toward the cost. However, after more than two years, we could not sustain the activity.
In the end ~ Ending this ministry was difficult for us. We loved the children and had fun. It was something entirely different than our clinical medical work and community health promotion. It provided at least an hour or so of healthy diversion for the children in a neighborhood that did not have much else to offer them along those lines.
Some of the mothers told us that the sandwich we gave to the children were the first food that some of them had received since breakfast. Children of single parents and those with two working parents might be fed breakfast, but were then left with a neighbor (if very young) or on their own until the parents returned in the evening.
After several years, we brought this ministry to a close. Even now, we occasionally meet a young person who introduces himself or herself with "I used to go to your Bible study with the sandwiches!"