Friday, 19 August 2011

Review of week 5

Review of week 5
Over the half way mark now, none of us can believe how little time we have left!
In celebration of Women’s day on the 9th, Monday and Tuesday of this week were public holidays so the schools were off. So we had 2 free days! On the Monday, we headed to the beautiful Nandoni Dam which is situated 45mins out of Thohoyandou. The dam has lots of space to sunbathe, a swimming pool, boat rides, barbeque spots and music blaring from a DJ (well, a guy with a laptop and a Lady GaGa cd...) We had a great afternoon just chilling out in the sun and watching the sun set over the water. On Tuesday we had a wee sunbathe, then headed into town to try and book our Cape Town flights, but everything was closed apart from supermarkets, so we got our shopping and went home!
Wednesday 10th August
Great morning teaching at Jumbo today! We had to leave at 11.30 so that the volunteers could head off to their respective Love Life sessions and resource centres for the afternoon. At night, we watched the film Neds to remind us of home, ha!
Thursday 11th August
Had a chat with Suzi at Vhutshilo today about more ways we can be involved at the school. We decided that as of next week, volunteers will go into the classes at 9.30 on Mondays and Thursdays to observe and participate in the lessons, then computer literacy and reading will take place as usual at 11am. We arranged to hold another ARV workshop this Saturday, and one the week after so that we will be able to see the first performance of their HIV play before we leave. Also, we arranged to visit a local secondary school a week on Monday, as they asked us to come along and talk to their pupils about careers, why studying is important and generally give them some motivation.
Friday 12th August
Jumbo! Lots of practice for Phiphidi’s Got Talent today! Definitely got the superstars of the future in our classes! Mercy announced today that she’d had a phone call from the government inspectors that we met previously who said that due to our groups happiness with the school, she is getting another sum of money and we are to have lunch with the inspectors on Thursday! Great news! So on Thursday we are having a traditional Venda meal at Mercy’s house with all the teachers and the government officials - pretty exciting! After school we headed into town and (after quite a kerfuffle) booked our flights to Cape Town for the end of the project-can’t wait! We’re going to have 6 days in Cape Town seeing the sights, before flying home.
Saturday 13th August
Early morning to meet the ARV workshop kids again which we’ve all been looking forward to, they are such a great bunch of kids! We needed to add some songs and dancing into their play, so we spent the morning making up dance routines to Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) by Shakira, and Umbrella by Rihanna which are performed at appropriate times in the play. Such a fun morning, we were all shattered by mid day! We’re already looking forward to next weeks workshop to put the play together!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Double Whammy!

Week 3 AND week 4's reviews here-finally up to date!

Week 3 Review

Again, late with this one! Only getting to the internet once every 4 days or so.

Monday 25th July

Vhutshilo day! Stayed on site today, did activities with the children at break. When they were in class, all the volunteers planned their lessons for the coming week at jumbo! We got a visit in the afternoon by the head teacher of a local secondary school who is good friends with Suzi, and helped her get the Vhutshilo school up and running in its current form. He told us how much of a struggle it was for Suzi to start the school here for various reasons. It was very inspirational to hear how hard she fought for the school. He also told us all about the problems with the education system in this area. The big problem is a lot of the kids don’t know why they are even at school, they don’t receive any career guidance. So they may say they want to be a doctor when they grow up, but have no idea of what that actually entails, and what subjects they need to study. In addition to that, they stay in school until they have passed their exams, so in a grade 5 class which should be children around the age of 9, you could have a 12 year old, or older! We agreed to visit his secondary school and do a few talks on careers, and why studying is important! They hope that by hearing it from young people like us, it will have more of an effect than hearing it from teachers.

Tuesday 26th July

This morning we began our day at Jumbo by calling a meeting with mercy and the other teachers of Jumbo school. We all felt the behaviour of the children in the first week of teaching had been unacceptable, and we could not control the younger classes without a teacher. Mercy completely understood and took it all on board, there will now always be a teacher in the two younger classes, which we were very happy with. Mercy then went on to tell us that after 10 years of writing to the government asking for financial help for the school, she had finally been given a lump sum! Brilliant news! She had plans of how to spend the money, however we felt it could be better used in a different way so called a volunteer meeting after dinner and wrote up an alternative budget for the money to show to Mercy tomorrow.

Wednesday 27th July

We called another teacher-volunteer meeting this morning to discuss how to spend the lump sum she had been given by the government. They listened to how we thought the current plan was a bad way to spend such a generous sum of money and they totally agreed with us! Mercy said that she trusts our advice on money over anyone else’s so we agreed that she could leave the construction of a new fence (what we felt needed urgent attention on safety grounds) in our hands. Calum and Sam headed into town to go round all the construction shops to get quotes while the rest of us got down to teaching! After a productive morning at jumbo (the behaviour has VASTLY improved) we headed to the bus station to meet Sharon of the CPC (Centre for Positive Care) who was taking us all to a resource centre which we will be working with every Wednesday afternoon for the rest of the project. After a sweaty bus journey we arrived and met a large group of OVC’s (orphans and vulnerable children) and their care workers. We had a great afternoon of playing games then headed back home!

Thursday 28th July

Vhutshilo day! Matt and Calum taught their first computer literacy class to the older children this morning which was great! In the afternoon we met Sharon again to go and visit anther resource centre that is run by the CPC. This one wasn’t as far away, but had over 200 kids! It was great fun. We split up into different age groups. Julie, Sam, Calum and myself took the large group of young children aged 2-5 who we read with, sang songs, and played a lot of games! Matt and Hannah took a maths lesson with older children, and Rebecca, Katie, Erin and Ruth did a life orientation lesson on puberty. We all really enjoyed visiting this centre and the care workers there do such a great job to provide for so many children!

Friday 29th July

Jumbo day! Full day of teaching today which went really well in all classes! As it was my birthday on the 30th, all the classes made me birthday cards as their art activity for the day, which was wonderful! Lots of bits of paper to take home! Mercy also told us today that the government has agreed to subsidise Jumbo school in the coming future which is more great news! Mercy had arranged a meeting with the parents who all told her that they would like the new classroom for grade R’s to be built before we do the fence, so that’s the plan! Grade R is the grade in between pre school and Grade 1, and it is growing week on week! So they really need a classroom of their own. It’s wonderful to see Jumbo school growing so much! Only problem is there is no space for new pupils. But this new classroom will change that! Mercy took our new fence quotes, so she will use the government subsidy to build it once the new classroom is all finished!

A very positive week J

Non project stuff

We had a great weekend celebrating my 21st! Ended up in the VIP section of a local music festival on the Saturday listening to one of my favourite bands, perfect birthday!

We finally gave in and had our first junk food binge on Friday for dinner. 12 large pizza’s between 9 of us! Big yum. (ps. 12 large pizza’s only cost the equivalent of £56! Bargain)

We learnt how to dance, Venda style, and can’t wait to whip out the moves in Glasgow!

Having watched 2 Julia Styles movies in the past week, we can confirm she is a terrible actress.

“Is that an elephant?” “No it’s a cow”

Thinking you’re tanned, then showering and realising it was actually just dirt is so depressing.

That’s all for now!


Week 4 review


Monday 1st August!

This morning Sam and Ruth headed off to their first Love Life session, organised by the CPC. Love Life is a nation wide programme in schools which educates the children about life issues, mainly HIV awareness. Sam and Ruth met with Lufuno (who runs the programme on a daily basis) and visited a local secondary school for a couple of hours! Back at Vhutshilo, Hannah and Rebecca accompanied Khatu, Suzi and the American volunteers to the local HIV ward at Silom hospital. Monday is the day that the children go to collect their ARV drugs. The clinic was very busy so Rebecca came home, while Hannah, who studies medicine, stayed to talk to the doctor. At the school, Calum and Matt took computer literacy, while Erin, Rebecca and Katie took small groups for reading help while they were waiting to get on the computers. A quiet day!

Tuesday 2nd August

Full day of teaching at jumbo! Matt’s not very well so me and Julie took his place in the grade 1 classroom with Erin today, very tiring! A new teacher, sent by the government, started today at Jumbo! He is there purely to teach maths to the two older classes which is great, the kids seem to really enjoy it! Julie and Hannah headed off to Love Life today and came back feeling very positive! The one worry is that next week we will be teaching classes on our own, and the English level in some of the schools is not very good. It makes us realise just how good the standard of English is at Jumbo! We began practicing today for an event we’re running at Jumbo at the end of the project “Phiphidi’s got talent”. It’s going to be a sports day/ talent show day at the school which will be a lot of fun! We practiced some races in the morning with the oldest class. Then in the afternoon we tried to get them to make up acts for the talent portion of the day but that ended up with the whole class (and us) up dancing to Party Rock Anthem (everyday i’m shuffling...) The children are all so good at singing, dancing, and rapping! We can’t wait to see what they’ll pull out the bag in the coming weeks.

Wednesday 3rd August

We had a great morning at Jumbo today! Erin and Calum left at break to go off to their Love Life session. Ruth’s unfortunately coming down with tonsillitis, but luckily she has antibiotics with her so she took the day off to get some badly needed rest. We’re dropping like flies!  The government inspectors arrived today to have a look round the school before they give jumbo the subsidy. They were very nice people and we spoke to them about our continuing work with Jumbo and how the money would make such a difference! Our sweet talking must have done the trick as they agreed to give Mercy more money in September to fix the fence! The good news for Jumbo just keeps coming! Over the moon!! In the afternoon Hannah, Matt, Katie and Rebecca headed off to the resource centre, while Sam, Julie and myself had lunch (Nando’s – amazing) and got the group shopping and headed home for a yummy stir fry dinner. We’ve come to realise that we spend 90% of our day talking about food, even while eating our dinner!

Thursday 4th August

Everyone woke up full of the cold today! Suzi says it’s due to the switch from the winter season to the summer season. This morning Calum and Matt taught their computing class and the girls took small groups for reading. Katie and Rebecca headed off to their Love Life session, then in the afternoon Sam, Erin, Ruth and Calum headed off to the Ngoudza resource centre! Busy busy. A past volunteer from the 2009 group, Eilidh, arrived today to stay for a few days! Nice to have a visitor! Tonight we discovered that soy mince is definitely the way to go. Another recipe we can add to our collection “How to feed ten people, 3 meals a day on £1 per head”

Friday 5th August

As it was Mercy’s birthday yesterday, we bought a big cake to take in today as a surprise! We went straight into teaching in the morning. We witnessed a rather hilarious lesson being taught by one of the school teachers to grade’s 4 and 5 on puberty. They had to draw the male and female body, oh my goodness I wish I could have taken photos of some of the stuff they drew! At break time we sang happy birthday to Mercy- she cried! Then tucked into yummy cake before activities time where we got the classes to practice for some of the races for sports day. With the grade’s 4 and 5 we were trying to come up with an act for the talent show, despite their determination to do Justin Bieber, we found out that Ruth knows the dance to the chorus of bad romance by Lady Gaga! We had such a fun afternoon teaching them it! They all got right into it-even the boys!!  Grade’s 6 and 7 practiced singing for the talent show and came up with the plot line for a drama they will perform.

We had a 4 week evaluation meeting tonight after dinner as I wanted the group to fully evaluate everything they had done in the past 4 weeks at Jumbo, CPC, and Vhutshilo. It was a very productive meeting, and the conclusions we came to were that all our current projects are running well, and no changes need to be made apart from finding something more to do on Monday afternoons. We then celebrated with a halfway through project cake! (we love cake)

Monday, 1 August 2011

Week 2 review! (a bit late)

Due to lack of internet access/pen drive difficulties, this week 2 blog is very late-sorry!

Another busy, tiring and sweaty week in Venda!
Monday 18th July - HAPPY NELSON MANDELA DAY! The big guy turned 93 today, a great day to be in South Africa! Today we stayed at Vhutshilo to talk with Suzi, the founder of the school about how she would like us to help her. She’s asked us to help out in a variety of ways! Firstly, we are helping out the ARV workshop group, which is a group of around 14 HIV positive young people who are all on ARV medication. As mentioned in a previous blog, they are going to be putting on a play at the local HIV clinic. Suzi also would like us to teach computer literacy to the children, and also to a local women’s support group. In addition to this, we are going to be helping out with Vhutshilo’s income generated projects which we will have more info about soon! After the meeting, we met all the kids at the school for the first time and spent all afternoon playing! We met another 2 volunteers today, Nancy and Tricia from the US. Nancy runs the great Hope For Limpopo website and has known suzi for many years. They gave us lots of great advice and help with lesson plans!
Tuesday 19th July - FIRST DAY OF TEACHING AT JUMBO. Tough day... All of us are shattered after our full first day teaching! The first day is always hard though when you’re trying to gauge the level of English in the class. And you’re also trying to work out what they know and what they don’t know about their other subjects like maths. Resounding sense of trepidation in the camp tonight, about the week ahead.
Wednesday 20th July - The original plan for today was to teach at Jumbo School until 12, then visit a Resource Centre with our NGO this afternoon, however the Caregivers at the resource centre were at training so we had the afternoon off! The teaching this morning went better than yesterday as the volunteers began to adapt to the situation. In the afternoon we just got the shopping then chilled out! I thought the volunteers deserved it after being dropped in at the deep end at Jumbo!
Thursday 21st July - VENDA TOUR DAY. Every year our favourite tour guide, Mr Fobbe takes us on two trips, a day trip around the historical sites of Venda, and a weekend in Kruger Park. Today we decided to do the Venda tour, as it’s one of the few days Fobbe was free, and we’re working on a Saturday this week so could take today off. It was a great day!! First stop was the Vondo Dam Viewpoint, up in the hills. Beautiful views of Venda and Mr Fobbe told us all about the political history of Venda, its place in apartheid and so on. Next stop was Lake Fundudzi, where we had to greet the lake the traditional way by turning our back to it, then looking at it through our legs! This is because in the olden days people only wore flaps of fabric on their lower halves, so the motion of swinging your head between your legs would lift the back flap up, exposing your bottom to the god of the lake, and making yourself vulnerable, as a sign of respect towards the god of the lake (who is a half man half snake by the way). Next on the tour was the Thathe sacred forest, which is home to a white lion god, and is the path by which the dead bodies of the kings are carried through before burial.  Last stop was the potholes, a very nice setting for our braii lunch. We headed down to the water while Fobbe cooked up a wonderful meal! a few of us braved the FREEZING cold water for a swim, but most were content just dipping out feet in!! After lunch we listened to Fobbe impart more of his endless wisdom(what a guy) then headed home.
Friday 22nd July - Unfortunately I took ill today so spent the day in my bed, but the volunteers all headed off to Jumbo for a day of teaching and activities! They are all getting into the swing of things with the teaching, and the kids all love them!
Saturday 23rd July - Wee lie in today! Then the ARV workshop kids arrived and we got started painting the backdrops for their play! we split into three groups for 3 backdrops, the house, the traditional healers house, and the hospital. The kids designed what they wanted to paint and set to it! We were so impressed! they came up ideas that we never would have thought of. We headed into the classrooms to paint, with lots of music blaring, it was a really fun morning!! Such a great bunch of kids. We then got given a massive lunch by the ladies at the school of rice, chicken, beetroot, butternut squash and coleslaw. Big yum. We had the afternoon off to clean up and catch some sun!
Sunday 24th July - sunshine! We all read our books, wrote our diaries and listened to music all day!
It’s been a great week!
Non- project stuff.
·         We’ve started racking up a fair few films watched with our movie nights. So far we highly recommend Precious, American History X and of course, Mean Girls.
·         Sam and Rebecca have developed an unhealthy addiction to the soft drink TAB.
·         We’re all getting really good at the accent out here- top of the impressionists is Hannah by far.
·         We’ve discovered that no fast food restaurant in Thohoyandou will deliver out to our accommodation.
·         We finally found something that almost resembles jam and we are single handedly doing great things for the peanut butter industry in South Africa.
·         Mosquito nets are a pain in the bum.
·         Katie should have her own tv show- “Katie says the funniest things”
·         I bought an “original venda hustler” tshirt on Wednesday-best 130 Rand i’ve ever spent.

That’s all for now!