Trip Start Jan 13, 2003
32Trip End Sep 01, 2003
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Up early and off to the centre.
I stupidly inquired about the crèche.
So, first day in the crèche...
All the kids are aged 4-6 and they are from local families with at least one of the parents unemployed. As it's the start of the year, the kids are new to the crèche as well.
It was complete chaos. Terri knew how it worked, but she was the only one. Katie and I did our best, but the kids have no idea of the rules - such as 'no standing at the bottom of the slide when someone else is coming down it' - and are used to running wild.
So wild they ran. They don't speak English which adds to the general lack of control on my part. Afrikaans is such a hideous language. The whole thing is confused further by the twin girls. Identical twin girls. One is called Christina and the other Sabrina, but how to tell them apart I don't know. Terri stuck name tags on all of them and this helped immensely.
A lady arrived, called Mom Ester, and took a group of the kids to a separate room to do a 'lesson' with them. Terri also took a group and allocated me and Katie groups of 4 each. I took Ronalda, Mathis, Chaney, and Sandra. Katie had Bradley, Salim, Siyabonga, and ???????. Of course, the group members are constantly getting up and becoming honorary members of the other group. 4-5 year olds just can't stay in one place for very long and also like to show their masterpieces to anything that moves.
Bradley is very quiet and small, with an attention span to match.
Ronalda and Sandra get on well and stay seated for a relatively long time.
We were trying to get them to complete the faces that were already half drawn on the pieces of paper. This didn't really appeal to any of them, but I drew a flower for Ronalda and Sandra and instantly knew I was on to a winner. Ok: 2 down, 6 to go...
Mathis is similar to Bradley (with the exception of looking rather unhealthy) and only stays long enough to do what is required of him, ie. draw a line. Then he's off, and no amount of cajoling will get him or his interest back.
Chaney is very friendly and chatters none stop, unfortunately in Afrikaans. This required me and Katie to be adept at mime-reading so as to figure out what she's telling us. We also have to be pretty good at making realistic noises of interest and appreciation (you know, like the ones mothers all over the world use when their child talks rubbish).
Siyabonga is nice - he's a Village kid who's too little to go to the Bridging School. Because he knows us vaguely from the village and he's used to discipline, he's much easier to manage.
Then we have Salim. He's a nightmare! He's deceptively strong and has a violent streak a mile wide. His main aim in life is to destroy everything and hurt everybody. He will not listen and as soon as you are stern with him he approaches and tries to win you over by lying on you and sticking his bottom lip out.
Two other characters we've become acquainted with already [though fortunately they are in Terri's class] are twin girls, Christine and Sabrina. Identical twin girls. Afrikaans speaking and very naughty. Joy.
The parents came to collect their monsters at 1pm. Or at least they should have. Eventually we took Siyabonga up to the Bridging School where all the village kids wait for the bus to take them back. Most of the kids in the Village and centre go to various local schools: Lee Rand, Felicitas, Hans Moore, Northmead, Lesabe, ???????, ???????. Lee Rand is only round the corner so Terri goes and walks them back to the centre. The bus picks up from all the other schools and brings them back to the centre. When it stops, the kids from Lee Rand jump on before it goes to the Village.
We walked back to the village and did homework. My first solo lesson! It went fine, thankfully. I had to ring Sunshine to make Ralph send Siphiwe across. For the first hour I have: Zanele, Bethwell, Lindo, and Roger. The second lot are: Simphiwe, Siphiwe, Mava, and Busi.
Lindo is quite clever and a quick learner. He's very good at reading, in direct contrast with Zanele, who doesn't even know her alphabet. She was taught to say the alphabet like 'ay bee cee dee' and not 'ah buh cuh duh', which makes it so hard for her to phonetically work out words from their letter components. She is also horrendously lazy.
Bethwell works hard and is really friendly. He's disturbingly keen on being set Maths homework. I've not met a child who voluntarily asks for Maths.
Roger is at a higher level of schooling as well as being older. Most of his work is set by school so I can leave him to it, giving him help when he asks me.
Simphiwe and Siphiwe are some of the oldest kids in the village. They are typical teenage boys, but they do do the work when you give them encouragement.
Mava is a pain in the ass. He has a real attitude problem and the fact that he and Busi wind each other up doesn't help. They chatter constantly in Zulu.
Busi is also lazy (a distressing trait that seems to be mainly restricted to the girls.) However, unlike Zanele, she has low self-confidence and (I think) misses home badly.
All in all, not a bad first solo day. If only they still weren't having problems with my name...
As expected, we both slept well.
Highlight: Doing something vaguely more interesting and useful than the library.