Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tuesday, June 11

This morning we woke up to frost on the ground. Um, what?? We are in Africa, how is this happening?

Our schoolyard, with frost!

I went to the Day Care today (as I do every Tuesday) and they were all cute in their their scarves and hats and gloves, something that you would expect to see in Africa.

When I came back to school I got to play with one of our school volunteer's baby. Esther had found some children from our school wandering the streets today while she was doing some house visits, so she updated me on that and a prior case.

I watched grade 1 and 2 outside today until their older siblings got out of school, and then walked home with Magda, Mpilo, Thulani and Rachel. The Irish volunteers were back at the house and we talked outside (it was a lot warmer then) and then came inside and ate ice cream.
Monday, June 10:

This morning at school we had no electricity again. I talked with Colm about the school and showed him my office and he asked me if he would just be throw into a classroom, and I said that he wouldn't be. So 5 minutes later, as I am walking with him to find Sister Theresa and explaining things to him, we meet Sister Theresa and she said “You're not a teacher by any chance, are you?” and got thrown into the grade 4 classroom, since their teacher was absent. He is a teacher, at least, but I felt bad telling him one thing, and then two seconds later...

Because there was no electricity, I had to go to our little kitchen trailer for hot water. The lady inside was very nice, and was cooking oatmeal for the students for breakfast in the biggest pot I have ever seen.

Today I interviewed many children so we can see what the children need, and their background situations. And also to have proper case studies and files for them. One of the boys said that he liked coming to school and learning because he wanted to buy his family a bigger house. That was heart-breaking to hear.

I also found out that one of the children here had the opportunity to walk onto the field at a World Cup soccer match with a player. He will definitely remember that for the rest of his life, and he was all smiles when he spoke about it. He said it was very loud.

At the end of the day I watched the grade 1 and grade 2's outside while they were waiting for their siblings to get out of school.

The Priests and “Brothers to be” (and Colm who is staying with them) all had no power tonight, and we tried to get them to come over to at least have a hot drink, because it was absolutely freezing tonight. But it did not work out. All of us girls (there are now 6 of us) ate dinner together and watched Miss Congeniality under lots of blankets.  

Sunday June 9:

This morning we attended mass in Finetown, where a lot of our children from school live. Mass is held on the same property as the day care that the Sisters run, and where I go every Tuesday. Actually, our elementary school was first started in Finetown, and they used the big church building for all of the classes. We then went to the Sister's house, and while waiting for the new Irish volunteers, we all watched one of the soccer matches on tv. It is really funny seeing the Sisters all watching soccer and getting excited for it. The new volunteers came, and actually one of them, Mary Theresa, is the grand niece of Sister Margaret. There is also Amanda, Mary Theresa's best friend, and Colm who lives in the same community as them. 

Saturday June 8:

It was a boring day today, as it was just a day to sleep in. Later in the afternoon Magda and I went to the Sister's house for internet access. I also did some work from home. Magda, Anezka, Rachel and I all had dinner together, and we were expecting some new volunteers from Ireland to come tonight, but we finally got a call to say that they were coming tomorrow.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Friday June 7:

Apparently (How am I just finding out about this now?) every morning in our big hall, there is a session for any “Skills” student who wants to attend, which is run by Father Mbongasani (from Africa) and Father Sean (from Canada). We sang the national anthem and I was happily surprised that the four verses are in Zulu, Sutu, Afrikaans, and finally English. Luckily there were lyric sheets to look at and to try to follow along. Then we had a talk by Father Sean about riddles in the Bible, and Father Mbongasani does a talk each day about life skills. Then we put the chairs away and did Zumba. Seriously. There was a man who was up at the front, and we were all in lines, following along with him and some dance music. I'm not sure if they do Zumba every morning, but it was really fun to see 20 some guys and only a few girls dancing.

We found some more case notes yesterday in our office, so I typed up some more today.

Anezka and I went for bread, and because there wasn't that much, they actually gave us more today from the back. These loaves of bread were not cut properly in the machine, so some of them had holes in the bags, but only because of this reason.

While sitting at the gas station, getting gas, we saw a car accident on a corner nearby. What was really weird is that a firetruck came really soon after, like under 2 minutes. We are pretty sure it was just a coincidence. We don't think there was anyone severely injured, and it's a good thing the driver sits on the other side of the car, as if they were on the left side, they probably wouldn't have made it.

Today at Oratory after school, a couple girls decided to braid my hair in tiny braids, and one of them gave me a back massage at the same time. Hard life here, huh?


I had purchased a football at a grocery store the other week, and the children were happy to play with it, but I had to teach them how to throw it, as they had never thrown one before. (Dad, are you proud of me for passing on this important skill you taught me as a child?)

After Oratory, many children were going to walk over to the SOS Children's village's soccer fields, so they all piled into the back of the truck, and we traveled like that. Again, really unsafe, but perfectly legal here, and so much fun!

Just chilling in the back of the truck, driving down the highway a tiny bit over a bridge, and then a side street:

We had the Fathers and “Brothers” over tonight, one last time before Anezka and Magda go home next Saturday. We had South African beer (which tasted like watered down beer) and South African wine. The Brothers stayed longer to watch powerpoint presentations the girls made of pictures throughout the year, and we played music and talked.  

Thursday June 6:

Today Esther and I went to visit the SOS Children's village, which is right down the road from our school. One of the social workers toured me around the facility, which was really beautiful. They have houses for children to live in who have been orphaned or cannot be taken care of (due to sick parents or are orphaned and their grandparents cannot take care of them anymore). They are placed into these houses and are raised as families by a “mother” figure and an “aunt” figure. I think this is a wonderful idea, as each child has their own family to grow up in, with brothers and sisters. The children are sent to school around the community, or are placed in their own kindergarten programs. When children become older, they help lead younger youth in programs. They also have family strengthening programs where they work with families and communities to empower them to effectively protect and care for their children. I really enjoyed visiting, and I will be working there on some Saturdays to come. They have SOS villages all over the world, which could mean job opportunities!

When we came back, Sister Theresa was talking to Esther about a brother of some children here who passed away from a drug problem. This is a big problem in the area, and this turned into me saying that I can run a drug-free/ healthy choices program that I had designed for my final undergrad social work project.

I helped again in the lunch room today, and the doctors came today, as they do every Thursday, and I helped over-see that.

At the end of the day, two girls were playing with my hair. Children here really like to touch our hair and they always say how soft it is.

Wednesday June 5:

Today was just a day of catching up on typing case notes that I have done.

At the end of the day today, I found a child with a University of Michigan Sweatshirt on, so I took a picture of him to post to my sister on her birthday tomorrow. What a nice coincidence! 

I made a birthday card for Laura and had many of the children sign their names during recess time. They went crazy over this, and everyone wanted to sign it.  I was surprised how full it was at the end of the day with so many names.  

Tuesday June 4: Today Esther and I were waiting for Sister Geovanna to pick us up to take us to the Kindergarten/child center, but she was busy, so we walked over there (about a half an hour walk) and we did a home visit along the way. The family lived in a small, one room shack for the 4 of them. The two little children, probably about 2 and 3 years old came outside and were eating apple and smiling at me.

When I arrived at the child center, I played with the children outside in their big playground area. And then I “read” the children the other African book I had brought from home, meaning we just looked at the pictures and I would say some English words and they would repeat them.

They ate pap for lunch, made of corn meal, (which looks like mashed potatoes) and gravy overtop with some potatoes in it. I ate some as well when it was offered to me. They eat pap with just their hands here, and they use utensils when they eat rice.

Anezka picked me up to get bread, but there was very little for us to pick through, and most of it had holes in the bags from animals that had gotten inside. We then stopped for ice cream at a BP gas station where we normally fill up the little truck we use (I was surprised to find BP and Shell gas stations here!). When we got back, I went to the lunch room, and helped there as well.

Then I was in the Crafts Skills class for a long time, as I really like being there, and because one of the ladies had brought African place mats that she had made for me to look at and purchase. I was also talking with some of the ladies for a long time.

At the end of the day, I wrote down more about the community and the difficulties here, as well as notes from prior home visits. I must keep track of these things for my Learning Objectives for my school.

Monday June 3: Right before I left to come here, Sister Jeannine in Toronto sent with me reusable grocery bags. Today Sister Margaret had me deliver them to the grade 6 class, because they had come up with the idea to start a recycling project and be the ones in charge of it. They were all really happy to receive them.

Esther and Sister Margaret and Theresa were dealing with the police today, so I was on my own, writing up my own case notes that I have done this past month, as well as other notes that I have taken.

I went for bread with Anezka, but there was none today.

Here is the bread factory and what the bread looks like in a pile on the steps: 

Sunday June 2: Today we went to mass, and then Rachel arrived at night. We spent a long time with her telling her about everything and giving her an “orientation”. She is from Alabama, and just got her masters in early childhood education.

By the way, here is a picture of the volunteer house where I live:

Saturday June 1

Today Anezka, Magda and I went to Southgate mall which was a really nice mall. However, it was very busy as it was payday yesterday. While waiting for Magda and Anezka by a store, I ran into one of the teachers at the school here, and she waited with me until she saw them and then snuck up on them and scared them. It was really funny. I bought a light winter jacket because it is so cold in my office in the mornings, and because the weather is just going to get colder. There are some cracks inbetween the bricks in all of the buildings, and since all classrooms and most offices lead to the outside, it can get cold inside of them.

After we got back, we started cleaning our house since it needed it, and because a new volunteer is joining us tomorrow from the United States for 6 months. While cleaning, I discovered a 5th huge bedroom in our house. I guess I thought that the door went outside or something since it has always been closed up. It used to be the chapel here when this house was lived in by Sisters.