Apologies for not having written an update in quite a while- finding a moment where I have both time and energy is proving difficult. So what is it that’s keeping us so busy?
Half of our time is spent teaching English and 6 Bricks (a Lego development program); at first I was a bit sceptical of how valuable this was; why do they need to know English? But I’ve since learned that after Grade 4 they’re expected to write, learn, and take their exams all in English, and yet are taught very little of it in school. If the kids don’t have access to a TV (because a lack of electricity) their chances of knowing any English is slim, which means they are more likely to fail at school, and not get the education they are entitled to. Something so simple as teaching a few English classes a week does masses in terms of giving them opportunities for their future. The 6 Bricks program gives them a chance to practice memory and problem solving skills – again essential for future education.
When we’re not at the schools we tend to be working in the local community centre, running homework clubs, youth empowerment sessions, gardening, and painting; or at Wellspring Church making resources.
The area we work in is actually, in comparison, well resourced, it has access to electricity, running water, and community projects. The next village over is much worse off, but as much as we want to do more work in this area, it’s been increasingly difficult to do so. The village is three miles from where we’re based, and with only a couple of hours a day to spare, this doesn’t leave enough time to get there, do work and get back in time for our next session. There’s an initiative to set up a homework club there but, due to a lack of local volunteers, we’ve been unable to get it off the ground. Next week and the week after are the school holidays so we’re working on getting some work done up there during this time.
We’ve now passed our half way mark, we had our midterm review last week, where we had the chance to meet up with the other teams. It was so great to chat with the other team leaders about their experiences, and a relief to find that we had similar issues – it wasn’t a result of my leadership, but of the ICS program. Unfortunately it was only a couple of days long and we were soon headed back to Weenen.
We now have just four weeks left and there’s this weird pull of home, and yet a sense that this is the norm now. Our host families have treated us as one of their own and it will be a sad day when we have to say goodbye to everyone here. As the team pull together for the home run, I’m excited to see what work God has in store for us.
That the team make the crossover from colleagues to family.
That we can finish our work, and feel satisfied we’ve made a difference.
To start up sustainable projects in the next village over.