„Laba” is an action that began in February 2021 and consists of weekly creative meetings of Alka Nauman with six Polish children living next to each other in Crete – Aga (6 years old), Emilia (17 years old), Jeremi (4 years old) and Maciek (13 years old) as well as Kuba (7 years old) and Zosia (13 years old). Alka has wanted to work with this particular group because she is one of their closest neighbors in a similar pandemic and emigration situation. Besides, as a little girl, she also lived abroad and knows how important and supportive it is to have one’s own group of friends. During the meetings, Alka sees her role primarily as a companion who is supportive to children by being present, following their games, and helping them to build relationships and their self-agency. She also feels that she has received a very important opportunity in life, that is, to enjoy having fun uncompromisingly and radically.
At the beginning of the meetings, the children hardly knew each other. However, they have quickly formed a harmonious group of friends which they called „Belielementa”. The name was chosen by children in a contest that took place in order to name the group. It is a combination of two words „beli” and „elementa”, which were invented by the youngest member of the group, Jeremi (4 years old). One of the goals of the project is to create a group of friends that could help them to survive the difficult and lonely time of the pandemic. During the classes, Alka and the participants mainly devote themselves to LABA which means being together and doing whatever you need and feel like doing. That’s why the classes do not have any predetermined program but are planned together with children each and every week. To the „Belielementa” group, the most important values are fun, spontaneity, freedom, tenderness, care, respect, and solidarity. In this difficult and uncertain time, which is the pandemic, the „Belielementa” group allows creating a space where children have control and agency over their world.
The group meets in a so-called „park” located between the houses, where swings, bars, and ladders were installed spontaneously by a neighbor from Sweden at the end of February. Thanks to fun games such as running, dancing, chasing, painting, talking, building robots from cardboard boxes from nearby Lidl, picking flowers, climbing trees and, most of all, hanging out – the „park” is full of life. Other children from the neighborhood also started to come there, for example, children from Greece, Sweden and Hungary. Even the local mayor paid a visit and said that he had never seen so many children in this place.
Apart from the weekly meetings, which usually last about three hours, the children meet together in the park almost every day.
During the first class, the children chose the following rules for the group:
1) We address another person as they wish
2) We do not exclude anyone
3) We do not use vulgar language
4) We can talk about anything
5) We do not shout when we want to say something
6) We do not judge others unless they ask us for it
7) We appreciate laughing very much
8) We do not tease others
9) We always ask for other person’s consent
10) We do not fight
11) We do not feed animals
12) We take care of each other
13) We clean up after ourselves
14) We do not litter
The latest action is „Paczka dla paczki” (it is a play of words which means “Packages for a bunch of friends”), which involves making packages for friends living in Poland. As the packages are supposed to be surprises and it is not known when they are expected to be delivered, the children decided not to reveal all the elements that are in the packages.
Below you will also find the soundtrack entitled „Sounds of Friendship” recorded by the youngest children – Jeremy, Jakub and Aga. We recommend listening to it as often as possible.