UGRAD Alumna Organizes Competition to Help Orphans Develop Teamwork Skills in Azerbaijan
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On July 7, 2009, 25 children at the Gunash Evi Orphanage #3 in Baku gathered to build birdhouses in a friendly competition, enjoying the creative activity and developing valuable teamwork skills in the process. Vafa Huseyinli (UGRAD 2005-2006) organized the event with the help of an ECA Project Smile grant and 12 volunteers.
The children were divided into five teams, with adult volunteers interspersed amongst the teams, and were asked to build a birdhouse. Additional volunteers were used as judges, closely observing the team spirit, cooperation and communication skills used by each team. At the end of the day, the participants were awarded certificates based not only on their birdhouse carpentry skills, but also on their team problem-solving, cooperation, time-management, brainstorming and critical-thinking skills.
As the project organizer, Vafa aimed to foster teamwork skills in the children. “It was extremely interesting to see how they worked as a team and inspired each other to have the best bird nest, which was a sign of their will to work as a team and develop this skill. Each team member was helping the other and brainstorming on how to accomplish the task perfectly,” she reflected.
The project proved not only to be beneficial for the environment, but for the children and volunteers alike. “It was really hard to leave them when they were literally begging us saying, ‘Please, don’t leave.’ Nevertheless, this is a very strong motivating factor for all of us to improve our work and do more than we did before,” Vafa said. One of the volunteers expressed that she had always dreamed of working with children at an orphanage but had not been able to for various reasons until this Project Smile activity. “I want to see at least those five kids from my team as intellectual, well-educated Azerbaijani youth with a strong vision for the future,” she wrote.
“The children helped me to feel happy and realize that in order to celebrate each day, we should serve others in some way,” Vafa concluded.