Thursday, 1 September 2011

weeks 6 & 7

Week 6!
How time flies!
Monday 15th August
After chatting to Suzi we decided that the volunteers would start working in more of a teaching capacity at Vhutshilo Mountain School. So this morning, they sat in on the lessons being given to a variety of ages to gauge the abilities of the learners and were so impressed by the teaching standard and the excellent behaviour of the children! The weather here today was terrible! heavy rain and very cold-just like being in Scotland! The roads from our village to town were very dangerous, as some are dirt roads and the rain had turned them into mudslides! So we stayed in this afternoon all wrapped up in blankets and watched a DVD.
Tuesday 16th August
Still horrible weather!!  We headed off to Jumbo this morning (very nerve wracking journey in the rain) for a day of teaching! The miserable weather is no fun!
Wednesday 17th August
Today we were invited to have a special traditional lunch at Jumbo School with the government inspectors that deemed the school in need of government money, it was great! On the menu was : white pap (pap is a staple food in many African countries. It looks like mashed potato, but don’t be fooled, you could stick a fork into it and lift the whole bowl up. It’s a perfect example of “stodge” food), yellow pap, salad, samp and beans, cabbage, a delicious pap sauce, and last but not least Mopani WORMS. Eating them was quite an experience for the volunteers...not necessarily a good experience but hey! when in Rome! We had a lovely afternoon spending time with the inspectors and teachers.
Thursday 18th August
Today, Vhutshilo had another Scottish volunteers visiting! his name was peter and he was sent by the church of Scotland in Greenock who have generously supported the school for years. It was nice to have a new face around! Matt and Hannah taught an extremely successful Rights and Responsibilities lesson to the Grade 3 class today, while Erin, Sam and myself were designing and making thank you cards using our photos for Vhutshilo to send all around the world to thank organisations and individuals for their donations and support. Rebecca and Katie also had a very positive and rewarding Love Life session today! A good day all round!
Friday 19th August
Pretty standard full day of teaching at Jumbo! Our day to day activities out here seem so normal to us now, but im sure when we look back on it we’ll recognise that it wasn’t normal at all, but very special. We went into Thohoyandou after school to use the internet, then buy the group shop for the following week which is not very exciting at all, lots of bread, peanut butter and milk!
We had Saturday off, as the ARV workshop we had hoped to join in with was cancelled, so we had a very lazy day! On Sunday we headed to Jumbo school to do some painting! the classrooms were in dire need of a lick of paint so we spent the afternoon brightening up the classrooms. We even used a small part of the wall to commemorate our visit by putting our handprints and signatures on it! Very pleased with the results, we’re surprisingly good at painting!

Week  7
Second last week-scary stuff!
Monday 22nd August
What a great day! First thing this morning we gave a donation from our fundraised money directly to Suzi for Vhutshilo School. It is such an excellent cause, and we have all been inspired by the work done here by the teachers, the local volunteers, and especially Suzi and her assistant Khatu. We then got picked up and taken to Humbaleni Secondary school who had asked us previously to visit their school and try to motivate their pupils. When we arrived we greeted all the teachers and staff and were then put in front of an assembly of 500 pupils, some of which (due to the South African education system) were older than us! Rebecca did a great welcome speech, and they were especially impressed she said good morning in their language, Tshivenda! We then split up by subject groups, and were assigned to the teacher of that subject to follow for the morning. Sam, Ruth and myself chose to teach social science, which was great fun, we learned so much! and the kids were so keen to ask us questions about the UK! They have taken particular interest over here with how our government dealt with the UK riots, as riots are so common here and they see the UK government’s hard punishments as a great example of how rioters should be dealt with. We all had a tea break (with sandwiches) then visited more classes with our teachers. I was asked to invigilate a grade 11 English exam which was very interesting!
We were struck by how well behaved the learners were, and their level of English was excellent! Better than any I’ve heard in a secondary school in this area. We then got more food! they were so generous and grateful for our visit, and we had such a wonderful day. All of us saw definite potential for involvement in the school, and all felt that next years volunteers could work there in a teaching capacity.
Tuesday 23rd August
Jumbo jumbo! Lots of rehearsals today for our big Phiphidi’s got talent event that takes place on Saturday! Trying to organise it is proving stressful though! we had planned to stay late after school and paint the banner for the event but we were all so shattered for some reason! so we headed home for nap time, then painted the banner at night. We also decided on prizes for all the races, and made up a rough timetable for the day. Starting to get excited!!
Wednesday 24th August
Yet again, a lot more Phiphidi’s got talent rehearsals! the kids are getting sick of us nagging them to practice, but it has to be done! In the afternoon, some of the volunteers headed off to their last resource centre at Malavuwe while the others shopped for prizes and extras for Saturday. I went to meet Jenna who works at the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (TVEP) to see if they had any odd jobs they would like our help with! She took me to the Court in Sibasa to show me a Wendy House that she’d like us to paint! The wendy house is there for the children testifying in abuse cases to sit in before they going to court. There is 2 rooms, one for them to chill out and watch tv, and the other for them to prepare their case with the relevant authorities. It’s a great project which we are so enthusiastic about being involved in!
Thursday 25th August  
The volunteers taught lessons at Vhutshilo this morning, then held their usual computer literacy and reading class!  They then headed into town for their last visit to the Ngoudza Resource centre, which unfortunately due to transport issues, did not happen, so they all went shopping for more materials for Saturday!
Friday 26th August
Last minute preparations for the big day! Erin, Matt and Julie accompanied one of the teachers to the sports ground we have arranged to use on Saturday, but quickly realised there was absolutely no shade at all, and if it was hot weather, we would have a big problem on our hands! so they went into town to arrange the rental of a tent for the parents to sit under while watching the races and talent acts. We had a pretty stressful afternoon trying to get all the last minute chores done! While most of the group headed back to the house to paint the banner and make up the sandwiches for the event, Sam, Hannah, Calum and myself headed to Sibasa to buy paint for the wendy house, which we are painting on Sunday! We got a lovely shade of yellow called “bananarama”. By the time we got home, almost all the chores for the next day had been done! so we had a surprisingly relaxed evening!
Saturday 27th August
The day did not start well to say the least.. various things that were meant to have been done weren’t, and I think we all gained a few grey hairs that morning, but let’s not dwell on that, we had a wonderful day!!Around 40 parents turned up and lots of locals came down to see what was going on! We began the day with races - sprint, egg and spoon, backpack race(my personal favourite) and many more. The kids were great, and so well behaved! we then had some sandwiches and juice before football time! The first game was Scottish volunteers and teachers versus the parents which was crazy! we got beaten 2-1 L then it was Scottish volunteers versus around 50 pupils! not fair! but a lot of fun. We had snacks then moved onto the talent portion of the day! we began with Grade’s 6&7 (and me and erin) doing our dance to Waka Waka by Shakira, then Hannah, Ruth and Grade’s 4&5 doing their dance to Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. Next was The Grade’s 2&3 dancing to Firework by Katy Perry with Katie, Calum and Julie, and lastly the Grade 1’s singing twinkle twinkle little star (in great outfits!) with Sam and Rebecca. Then it was our turn! We performed our routine to Rihanna’s Umbrella which we made up with the ARV workshop kids at Vhutshilo, the kids loved it! Then we burst into the South African national anthem which we have been learning for weeks (it’s in 4 different languages-difficult!) The kids loved it!! At the end of the day we had a ceremony where we handed them certificates and presents and rounded off such a fun dayJ well worth the stress!
Sunday 28th August
No rest for the wicked! we have a 7 day working week this week!
We did have a bit of a lie in today, feeling a bit fragile from post Phiphidi’s Got Talent Celebrations...then we headed to sibasa and started painting the wendy house! We really are getting very good at this painting and decorating lark! We decided to pack it in at 4 and to finish it tomorrow afternoon! Home time for a chilled out evening. Well that was until we found a large rodent-type animal in one of the classrooms! we have no idea what it is! It’s the size of a large rabbit, looks a bit like a massive rat! We’ve named him Vhutshilo J