Dreaming Deeply: the Luxury of Nap Time

Note: Two of the crèches operated by the Betsy Elizabeth Trust are on the sea coast where it’s very warm. This article is about those crèches. In the high hills where the other three crèches are, it’s often cold enough for a blanket, as in the photo on the left.

After a busy morning, after a big lunch, after face and hand washing, and a drink of water for all the children, the teachers gather up the straw mats and begin to lay them out on the cool, polished cement floor at the crèches. Some of the younger children are already waiting for the mats so they can lay down. They fall asleep while the older kids trickle in, settle down and work out the last of their fidgets. Within a quarter hour seventy children are asleep side by side in two long rows. The still heat of the afternoon settles over them, their breathing, rustling, and quiet murmurs between staff the only sounds.

Almost all the children live in one-room grass or mud huts. At home they sleep on mats as well, usually on the swept-hard dirt floor. Their neighbors’ huts are within a few feet and every sound can be heard. Talking, radio, TV, motor bikes, coughing, arguing and fights, laughter and sighs send a child to sleep, sometimes late into the night. Huts often share a wall with the family’s animals, who are restless in the hot night. Creeping and flying bugs add their own notes and torments.

Naptime stretches to two hours or more at the creche because the children need it, even the older ones. The safety, peace, and quiet are, for many, the best chance to let go of all tension attendant to growing up in poverty. They know that when they wake refreshed, there will be a good snack of fruit and time to just play like the little kids they are before going home.

Reach high, for stars lie hidden in you. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.   — Rabindranath Tagore