Monday, May 20- Wednesday, May 22:
This week we were preparing for the opening of our school, so Esther and some of the volunteer cleaning ladies (who have children in our school) cleaned out the library, which meant putting books on the shelves, and sorting out clothing and shoes that was stored in the library and giving some away to students who needed it the most.
The teachers have been taking exams this week at the University, so we were short-staffed a lot this week.
My new job is to go with Anezka to pick up loaves of bread that a local bread factory “donates” to us. This means that we drive the 20 minutes to the factory, and we get to pick through the unwanted bagged bread that is a day old or hasn't been cut into slices. Because it is just thrown in a corner outside on the platform that the trucks come to, we must look at each loaf to make sure it isn't moldy or has holes in the plastic bag by rats or other animals. We take the loaves back to the school and other Kindergarten center for the children to take home a loaf of bread each day. (That is, if there is any good bread for us to pick up, as sometimes we get there and there is none).
Esther is also the disciplinarian of the school, so throughout the weeks we have had children in our office if they are in trouble or have been late to school.
Tuesday I went to the Kindergarten Center and I walked with one class and their teacher to a trailer that has toys in it. It's a community development project run by the government (I believe) for children to come and play on the playground and inside. So the children played for a long time inside, and then outside before we went back to their classroom. Then I “read” them one of the African books that I brought from home, meaning that I showed them the pictures and said the animal names, as they don't really understand English. For lunch, all of the children ate “pap” with spinach, and I helped to pass it out and then ate some when it was offered to me to try. It was salty, but it was ok. After trying to get bread with Anezka (there was none for us to take on Tuesday), I helped Anezka with the afterschool care of the younger grades because they get out earlier and are waiting for their brothers and sisters to take them home. This was a very chaotic experience, as the younger children do not speak very much english, and the teachers were not there to translate or help them to calm down. I eventually read to them the book I read to the Kindergarten, but again just said the animal names to them.
On Wednesday, the students were allowed to wear their “normal” clothes, to get their uniforms ready for Opening Day. This was good for Esther and I, as we could see who needed to receive donated “new” clothes and “new”shoes, and I was in charge of the shoes. As the children walked to the lunch room, I was looking at their shoes to determine which ones were falling apart.
Also on Wednesday, any old empty boxes from the library were burned behind our school. So Esther, a volunteer and I brought them out in the empty field to burn them. It was really weird, but they burn the fields a lot here to clear them out. Sometimes the smoke from them is really thick and I am scared that they will just get bigger, but they always seem to die out by themselves.
Wednesday I met a volunteer from the University of Johannesburg who came because he didn't have any classes that day and “couldn't just sit around doing nothing”. So we unwrapped brand new chairs for the main office, bookcases and shelves.