Announcing an exciting new artistic collaboration!

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Art is the highest form of self expression, it transcends all boundaries and speaks to the heart and mind in mysterious, magical ways. It comes in many forms: music, graphic, plastic, literary, etc.. It breaks down barriers and communicates in a transcendental way messages that we might never dare speak. This magical language belongs to everyone, and children are the foremost beneficiaries of it. Children speak to us through their art all the time, their scribbles, drawings and plays (acting, with puppets, figurines, and virtually anything they can get their hands on) is their form of expression. It is through it that we get to see their inner souls, and if we listen carefully, we can understand what they are still too verbally inept to communicate in words, we can get to know what they like, what they want, what they love and what they fear, without a single word being spoken. Magically, also, they get to realize that their feelings are being heard and taken to heart, even when they are unable to name them. At Caterpillar Cafe we hope to allow for such communication to flourish, be it through open ended play, free style painting and drawing, puppet theater or craft making. It is with this in mind that I have approached a remarkable local artist, who was very excited to have the opportunity to share her expertise with young learners and has agreed to host every last Thursday of the month’s Craft session at the Caterpillar Cafe. I am elated about what this will mean for so many and can’t wait to see the children’s excitement when they get their first work of art taught by a professional artist in her own right! I hope this will be a memory to be cherished and carried on for many years to come!

Here is a preview of what this inspiring artist does on a regular basis: http://www.amiramade.com/

Friendship

Ezdien and Suhaib

Friendship is what makes life magical, it’s sharing what is special and valuable with someone who is happy to see you happy. It’s a unique bond, brought about through regular, meaningful interaction. For kids this might mean playing together, sharing toys, meeting frequently enough to create lasting memories. As we grow and become more sophisticated and in tune with the outer world, we start relating friendship to loyalty and commitment and these traits will pour over into adulthood. These bonds often happen haphazardly in school, playgrounds, neighborhoods, or within families. But what if you just moved to a new country, don’t have any neighbors or have no family close by? Or what if the neighbors or family that you do have, don’t share the same language or simply play significantly differently or spend all their free time studying? Kids go to school for 4-5 hours per day, 5 days per week and spend most of that time glued to desks, listening to the teacher.There is very little time to bond and share, and these relationships are often relegated to the school grounds, since kids live so far apart and don’t spend extra curricular time together. Then at home it can be all the more complicated to feel safe sending kids out into the yard, not knowing who might pop by, or what might be flying overhead. Supervised play may be available, but limited to bouncing around for an hour while moms get gocked at or even harassed, and in such environments, kids engage in physical play that doesn’t necessarily require interaction with other kids. They might see each other, exchange a word or two, such as “move” or “careful” and there you have it, play time is over and no bonds were created, no links made.

Friendship is characterized by mutual sympathy, honesty, altruism and understanding and is fostered by time spent in each other’s company, in the pursuit of enjoyable activities, feeling free to be oneself and make mistakes, without feeling judged. This becomes increasingly important as kids grow into young adults, valuing each other’s viewpoints and relish being a part of a bigger whole.

If at first geographical closeness might be the determining factor, parents can facilitate a more sophisticated outlook by seeking out further alliances with parents who share more than location, perhaps a philosophy, a way of life, a world view. These friendships can then blossom into life long relationships that can enrich one’s life in countless and invaluable ways. Making friends is a process, and it is facilitated by proximity, regular interaction and opportunities to share ideas, feelings and moments with each other. The Caterpillar Cafe aims at being this catalyst for moms seeking out meaningful interactions to enrich their kids’ lives as well as their own. But before you toss this blog to the side as a meager attempt at self promotion, let me share with you that I am in the same boat, a mom, seeking meaningful interactions for my kids and with like minded moms in this city that we now call our own. I know I am not alone, but after years of waiting for someone like me to make this opportunity available, I decided to facilitate it myself, and invite you to come along and see for yourself if it’s as valuable for you as it is for us.

Why Caterpillar?

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Some of you may be wondering why a Cafe would be called Caterpillar? What does a bug have to do with that sumptuous, delicious hot drink? Actually Caterpillar came to me long before Cafe did, in fact Cafe was an incidental last minute addition! A Caterpillar is a bug that comes from an egg and after growing sufficiently, wraps itself into a cocoon and eventually turns into a butterfly. I love the idea of the various stages it undergoes in order to become something beautiful and admirable. This is how I see childhood, and this is what I would want for my kids, a healthy upbringing, complete with all that makes life whole (love, play, community, friendship, sharing, laughter, strong morals and a proper education along with healthy nutrition, sleep and physical activity), so that they can then go out into the world and make it a better, more beautiful place. For me, growing up in Switzerland, was amazing in many ways, but there was a magical place, where kids could meet other kids and play with intelligent toys they either didn’t own or had nobody to play with at home, I took this place for granted as a child, but when I had kids of my own I realized how many toys I could remember playing with, but never owning. Here we learned responsible handling of toys, because if we ruined them we’d have to pay for them, and it all came out of our allowance, this place was called Ludoteca (library of toys). When my oldest son was born I lived in Montreal and I liked to take him to a very similar place called the Joujoutheque (same name, same idea, but it also offered a wide variety of courses related to parenting and running an efficient household). I realized quickly after moving to Libya that good quality toys were practically non existent here and the social structure is such that comfortable socializing for women with young children is extremely difficult. I yearned for a place where I could take my kids to play with quality toys and socialize with other kids like I did growing up and my oldest son did as a toddler. I yearned for a place where I could sit and actually talk to their moms without feeling stared down by anyone and without having to worry about my kids getting bored or hurt. So I got busy and collected as many toys and books as I could carry and brought them here, found a place, made a plan and got going. I cannot give my kids my childhood, but a ludoteca, joujoutheque, or something like it, I can, this is something I can offer them, and with them other kids in the area who might also be yearning for such an outlet. This is an exercise in sharing for my kids, but surprisingly enough they were all to glad to do so, if it meant they’d make some friends. So Caterpillar is a description of childhood (including my own kids’), but also an idea that wants to help make this a better and more beautiful place, it’s a small project in its infancy that wants to open new horizons and opportunities for children and mothers alike. In many ways, it’s everyone’s story, it’s everyone’s potential, it’s a hopeful approach in a place where hope is a lifeline fueled by optimism, and what is more hopeful than childhood? And… of course anything looks and feels better over a nice hot cup of java!

HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!

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At the Caterpillar Cafe we would like to thank you all for your support and enthusiasm and wish you a very successful, happy, healthy and prosperous 2014! May it be better than 2013 and open doors to a brighter future for all our kids and for Libya into 2015 and beyond!

REGULAR HOURS BEGIN

Please refer to the Schedule tab to find out what is happening on the day you wish to come, or when the activity you are looking for will be held next. To find us you can zoom into the satellite picture in the About and Contact tabs, or simply follow the directions on the side of this page from Nasr Str. You will also find some pictures in the Pictures tab and a brief explanation of what to expect for each session in the Price tab. Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the rules as well, they are under the aptly named Rules tab! All sessions other than Freeplay are to be booked in advance, to allow for adequate preparation and avoid overcrowding, you can either fill out the form here, which you will find in the Application Form tab, email me, contact me from the Contact tab, pm me on the FB Caterpillar page or sms me on my cellphone, which is listed here on the Homepage and on the FB page. I thank you and look forward to meeting you and your kids soon!