Maud's Volunteer Journey pt. 7

At the daycare, I helped a boy pull up his pants, and saw that he had a green thread fastened around his hips. I asked the teacher what it was for, and she told me that it was a religious symbol, and meant that God would watch over him. Faith is very important for people in the township, and that was the first time I truly saw this.

Last week I showed the children a globe, pointing out where they lived, and where I and the other volunteers lived. We told them that the Netherlands is far away in another continent. We also showed them Zimbabwe, because more than half of the children in the crèche come from Zimbabwe. The families are here in South Africa because the parents can get better jobs than in their home country.  The Zimbabwean children speak English a little bit better than the others. The children then painted a picture of the Dutch flag with all the children, me and the other volunteer.

At the after-school project, the girls wanted another activity after playing catch for a while. I suggested that they play soccer, and they wanted to play with the boys. It’s customary in the township for the boys and girls to play separately, so most of the time the boys play soccer and the girls play netball. But I think it’s good for them to play together, as they can learn from each other. Last Thursday afternoon there was a really weird man on the field by the sports project. He was screaming that all our mothers were homeless prostitutes, and he put up his middle finger. I told the girls to ignore him. The man was intimidating!

On Thursday and Friday, we had swimming lessons. There were two different groups, each with three boys and three girls. One of the groups were coming for the second time, and the others for the first time – so the first-timers were very excited. They were curious about the swimming pool when they saw the pool for the first time. Some of the children were scared of the water at first and kept saying “Teacher, teacher, don’t leave me!’’. They got used to the water quickly and had a lot of fun.

After the swimming lesson, the volunteers went for a surfing lesson. We rented wetsuits and surfboards at the shop on the beachfront. Surfing is very difficult, and I was happy to be able to stand on my board for about two seconds - most of the time I was drinking seawater. There were plenty of good waves, so we could practice our skills. We did it for an hour, and that was long enough. When I was home I jumped straight into the swimming pool – I prefer the pool!

 

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