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Kim’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 02 Aug 2007

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

MapSo sorry for the long delay in words and chapters but a) there has been a breakdown in internet here and b) I am exhausted!!, so here goes

The day starts at 7.45 when we are collected and taken to school. This is in the District 6 area that I spoke about earlier and has a huge catchment area. Most of the children are up about 5.30 in time to get to school, so the day is very different in structure to that of an English school. After chapel, class starts and the average size is between 40 - 45 children ranging in age - the widest gap in one class in 3 years aas they hold children down for a year if they do not make the grade. Most lessons are done by roto (?) and the old fashioned way of chanting tables and spellings. There is very little time for a one to one seesion and the children that need the most support are often left behind - no a fault of the staff or methods but just sheer size of class. They then have a break at 10.00 - 10.30. This is lunch as you can imagine most children ate very early and for those families who cannot afford, a meal is given to the kids but seems mostly to consist of bread and scrap. Lessons then carry on until 12.15, another break is had for 15 minutes and then until school closes which is 2.30 four days a week and 2.00 on a friday.

The school is very strict with the children and uniform must be worn along with strict guidelines concerning hair and face. Toilet paper is given out by the staff when needed - some of this takes a little getting used to and seems very petty but there is so little money to spare, what to us is a matter of a few pence, to them is sometimes the difference between dinner or not. You find yourself getting into the same mind set and waste is unheard of. Sister Mary who runs the school is I think the only nun that I have met that wears bikers boots!!

I have not been helping in the classrooms at the moment as there were so many others, so instead I have been organising resources and general admin issues - and yes I can hear you all saying, that sounds about right. At the moment, the school has no library, so I have found a room and today started on forming one. I have no idea what the end result will be but it has to be better than all these books that I have found not being used or looked at. The school has many resources at its finger tips but the staff are so busy that they have no time to use what they have and at present are trying to get the children ready for exams and to make up for the time that was lost over the general strike that bit into three weeks of the last term.

The Orphanage is a different kettle of fish, not really what we would call an orphanage but more of a safe or halfway house. Many of the children have family but either they cannot afford to look after them or there are family issues. Once again, this is run by the church but it makes it much easier to call Father, Father as he is one. Once the children have finished school, they leave the care of Lawrence House and go to Italy to stay with a family associated with the church and take courses in various forms of tourism. They are much lucker than many of their class mates but being humans, are not aware. We start work there at 4.00pm four days a week to do either homework or play and arrive back at the lodge just before 6.00 as it is not safe to walk the streets here in anything approaching darkness. The kids are all personalities in their own rights but all so demanding for love and attention. They will think nothing of crawling onto your lap to write a story or hanging their arms around your neck whilst trying to do long division and yes, my brain has had to remember and without the use of a calculator!!!!!

This country is so much more wealthy than others I will be going to visit but sometimes you cannot help but feel a pang of do-gooder - are you making any difference to any of these children or their lives? ( This keyboard is very sticky, so please forgive the spelling errors), so days are very busy and sometimes exhausting and with the general cold and damp of Cape Town in the winter, bed normally calls about 8.30. At least I am then awake in the morning before most of the others and stand a chance of getting a warm shower - but then the shower curtain might attack you in a suprise move and that is not pleasant when you are still half asleep. So that is the general day had here, nothing earth shattering but still a full day and then to top it all, you have to cook for yourself here - Please bring back Off Beat and being spoilt. I have decided to go away for the weekend to Zambabwe as I am so close and my visa needs to be renewed, so I might be mad but I would like a chance to see it before it implodes in on itself, so am flying out on Friday and back on late Monday - hopefully with some good pictures of the falls - until the next installment -------