I love kids. Especially when they are overly inquisitive and brutally honest. 

A fabulous teacher in the Netherlands stumbled upon photos we took during our stay with the Suri tribe on the border of Ethiopia and South Sudan. Being the stellar teacher that she is, she contacted us and asked if she could share the pix and our stories with her young class so they could learn about Africa, culture and diversity.

Lara Bominaar’s students are aged between 4 and 10-years-old and live in the city of Breda, in the southern part of the Netherlands. 

As part of their special project, the kids spent a few weeks looking at our photos and learning about Suri life – no electricity, little clothing, nomadic living and a love of face and body art. As you can see from the photos below, the Dutch youngsters were then ready to have a go at painting themselves – Suri style. They used a mixture of mud, flowers and store-bought paint.

Lara tells us the kids had lots of questions throughout the process. ‘They wanted to know why members of the Suri tribe wear body paint and are normally naked, when people in the Netherlands all wear clothes. They began to understand that it is culture which makes something weird or normal.’

Like many adults, the kids were also intrigued by the saucer-sized lip plates Suri women aged over 16 must wear. ‘They wondered how they were even possible and whether they were heavy. They wanted to know if Steph and Ben would like lip plates and whether they found it difficult to communicate with the people they met,’ Lara says.

‘Skin colour was also a big topic. The students wanted to know why some people have dark skin while others have light skin. The first reaction was, "Because we live in the Netherlands!" But with two kids in the class having an African dad, who was born and raised in the Netherlands, a discussion was inevitable. "That can't be true! Look at us. We are a little brown too! And we live here!" The kids looked at them and started thinking.’

‘The thing I like most about kids is that they are so honest. They don’t judge and don’t think anything is different or weird. When this comment was said, they all looked at the kids with the dark skin as if that was the first time they noticed they didn’t all have the same skin colour. The kids are smart enough to know they look different, but they do not actually see it.’ 

How cool is that!

Stephanie Hunt