Maud's Volunteer Journey pt. 9

Simon is coming on so well with lessons this week and I am extremely proud of him! He is still learning how to write his own name. I alternated teaching his name with his wife’s name, and then numbers.  I didn’t want to overwhelm him with new information and make it too difficult for him. First of all I wrote down his name, so he could see how it looked. After that he had to write it by himself, but I gave him the letters. By the end he could write his name by himself. Although we have lots of practice to do, I was glad he could spell his name without my help.

In the literacy group, there were a few people who had a hard time learning to write; they could only draw circles and still couldn’t recognize the letters A and B. When you are older, it seems it’s more difficult to learn things like reading and writing. Some haven’t shown much progress. One of the women has a major disability. Just as all the children in the daycare love to high-five, this lady loves it too, or even more!

In a meeting with the Izizwe organisers, we spoke about the literacy group. What should we do with the people who can’t seem to learn to read and write? This was the central question when we spoke about literacy. The people are really happy when they come to us for each session, and the project states that each person gets ten lessons of writing, before new people join. In our meeting, we proposed that ten lessons weren’t enough. More lessons would give the opportunity for the students who had already completed their ten lessons, a chance to learn some more.

The new toilets in the daycare still weren’t working - but by then at least we could use both classrooms. This was a lot better, because now there weren’t so many distractions and it makes it easier for the two groups to learn. The children always have “story time” before they get lunch, and they all tell the same story, again and again. The story is about “tjakalas” – written phonetically, because I don’t know how this is spelled in the Xhosa language. The word means wolf. I always ask them if they can tell other stories, maybe about their weekend, family or friends. But they like the wolf story the most!

The children in the day care can’t read yet. We wanted to teach them to read a story using images from a book. Then they could tell the story with and to the other children, and it stimulates their imaginations.

At the afterschool sport project, we played rugby again because the children enjoyed this game immensely the last time. One time, I caught the ball and had to run for my life. All the children were running behind me, and one was hanging on me! Due to the sheer number of kids chasing me, I had to get rid of the ball fast. It was great to see how active they were, and how they enjoyed themselves.

It was King’s Day in the Netherlands last week. We celebrated King’s Night on Tuesday in another house with Dutch residents. We sang Dutch songs and had some beer. Some people were wearing our national color, orange. It was a cool party! The day afterwards was a day off from the project. In South Africa, the day was also a celebration and public holiday - the Day of Freedom. We went to Jeffrey’s Bay, a surf destination nearby. It was windy and cold so we decided not to surf. We ended the day in the cinema, watching the 3D movie “Jungle Book”. 


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